Epidemiologic studies have traditionally been categorized as having ‘descriptive’ or ‘analytic’ designs. Descriptive studies are viewed primarily as hypothesis-generating studies and usually take advantage of routinely collected data to describe the distribution of a disease in a population in terms of the basic descriptors of person, place, and time. Analytic studies are further divided into ‘observational’ and ‘experimental’ study designs and are viewed as approaches suitable for testing specific hypotheses about disease etiology or the efficacy of disease prevention strategies. The main categories of observational studies are the cohort, case-control, nested case-control, case-cohort, case crossover, and crosssectional designs. The most commonly employed experimental designs used in epidemiologic research include the classic randomized clinical trial and the quasi-experimental nonrandomized study design used to evaluate the effectiveness ...

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