According to the WHO (World Health Organization), Epidemiology is “the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events.”1 More simply put, epidemiology is the study of disease patterns within a given population. It forms the foundation of public health and it provides guidance for public health policy as well as preventative medicine by identifying patterns, causes and effects of health and disease conditions. Thus, epidemiologists help with the design of population studies relating to health as well as the collection and statistical analysis of the relevant data set.
In this context, the study of Epidemiology can complement clinical research, public health research and basic scientific research, by developing the pertinent methodology as well as analyzing specific trends within the data collected. Major areas of epidemiology are etiology, screening, outbreak investigations, disease surveillance as well as the analysis of treatment outcomes in clinical trials. Although Epidemiology is considered an independent area of study, it draws upon concepts from Biology and Statistics to better understand the disease process, as well as making efficient use of data.
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