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Descriptive and Analytic Epidemiology

Descriptive and analytic studies are the two main types of research design used in epidemiology for describing the distribution of disease incidence and prevalence, for studying exposure-disease association, and for identifying disease prevention strategies. Generally speaking, descriptive studies deal with the ‘what’ questions, for example, describing ‘what happened’ in terms of disease occurrence, while analytic studies ask the ‘why’ questions, for example, why some people develop disease and others don't.

Descriptive Studies

Descriptive studies are designed to describe data on health outcomes, such as disease incidence, prevalence, and mortality according to three variables: person, place, and time. Person variables describe the people who develop disease in terms of their personal characteristics, such as age, gender, race, marital status, blood type, immune status, occupation, socioeconomic status, and so ...

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