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Extra resources for Basic Epidemiological Methods and Biostatistics: A Practical Guidebook (Jones and Bartlett Series in Health Science and Physical Education)
Snow developed a testable hypothesis based on a characterization of the cases and population at risk by time, place, and person. He then tested this hypothesis with a more rigorously designed study, ensuring that the groups to be compared were comparable. After this study, efforts to control the epidemic were directed at changing the location of the water intake of the Southwark and Vauxhall Company to avoid sources of contamination. Thus, with no knowledge of the existence of microorganisms, Snow demonstrated through epidemiologic studies that water could serve as a vehicle for transmitting cholera and that epidemiologic information could be used to direct prompt and appropriate public health action.
Are people who more frequently engage in these behaviors at greater risk of the disease? What other risk factors can we identify? What common pathway might there be? Could AIDS be caused by some toxic agent (chemical) used by both groups? Could it be caused by an infectious agent transmitted by exchange of blood, like hepatitis B? Could it be caused by sheer immunologic overload? By addressing these questions and hypotheses with epidemiologic and laboratory methods, researchers identified the mode of transmission (and prevention strategies) and, eventually, the causative virus.
For their patience and assistance we are grateful. Lastly, we acknowledge those to whom this book was writtenthe readers. As students of epidemiology we hope that the pages that lie before you will help you develop an appreciation for epidemiology and the basic skills that will serve you in your health science career. Page 1 1 Introduction to Epidemiology Objectives On completion of this chapter, you will be able to: Define epidemiology Explain why epidemiology is the basic science of community and public health and its uses Define behavioral epidemiology Describe significant historical events in the field of epidemiology Describe the uses of epidemiology in community health and individual decision-making Describe how host, agent, and environmental factors interact in causing various diseases and health conditions and how an understanding of these factors can lead to effective prevention and control measures Describe the various stages of the natural history of disease and elements comprising the chain of infection Describe common source, propagated, and mixed epidemic patterns of disease Identify the functions of epidemiology in promoting public health Explain the importance of descriptive epidemiology What is epidemiology?