Epidemiology is the study of the demographics of disease processes,
including the study of epidemics and other diseases that are common
enough to allow statistical tools to be applied. It is an important
supporting branch of medicine, helping to find the causes of diseases
and ways of prevention. It can, using statistical methods such as
large-scale population studies, prove or disprove treatment
hypotheses. Another major use of epidemiology is to identify risk
factors for diseases. Epidemiological studies generally focus on large
groups of people and relate to a target population that can be
identified. This allows statistics to be used to recognize trends and
possible causal factors.
The three major epidemiologic techniques are descriptive, analytic,
and experimental. While all three can be used in the investigation of
disease occurrence, the method used most is descriptive epidemiology.
Once the basic epidemiology of a disease has been described,
analytical methods can be used to study the disease further, and an
experimental approach can be developed to test a hypothesis.
In descriptive epidemiology, data that describe the occurrence of the
disease are collected by various methods from all relevant sources.
The data is then collected by time, place, and person. Four time
trends are considered in describing the epidemiologic data: secular,
periodic, seasonal and epidemic. A description of epidemiologic data
by place must consider three different locations: where the individual
was when disease appeared, where the individual was when he or she
became infected from the source, and where the source became infected...
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... * Medical Microbiology: Bacteriology: Epidemiology: Epidemic
Investigation. [Online]. Available:
* Smoking Related Lung Cancer. [Online]. Available:
* Wikipedia: Epidemiology. (2004). [Online]. Available:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epidemiology [Accessed: 29/04/04]
* Epidemiology of lung cancer. (2003). [Online]. Available:
* A long trail of evidence links cigarette smoking to lung cancer.
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