You are on page 1of 3

Types of Descriptive Studies Study the distribution of a problem by cases or outcome, frequency in

population, exposure, time pattern or environmental factor (Studies without a control group can be used
for descriptive purposes!)
a. Case report/case series case report = detail report of a single Patient from one or more doctors
while case series =Characteristics of several patients
b. Correlative studies correlates general
characteristics of the Population with health problem frequency with several groups during the same
period of time
Time series analysis correlate within the same population a different point in time Ecologic
relations correlate relative to specific ecologic Factors as diet c. Cross sectional - a survey of a
population where participants are selected irrespective of exposure or disease status Retrospective:
(historic cohort) starts at exposure in past & moves forward to outcome
Prospective: starts a present exposure and moves forward in time to outcome
Attack rate the rate that a group experienced an outcome or illness= number sick total in that
group (Look for high attack rate in exposed & low rate in unexposed)
Exposed = a (a+b) = 150 180 = 80% Unexposed = c (c + d) = 50 220 = 20%
Relative risk = [a (a+b)] / [c (c+d)] = 80% 20% = 4
Relative risk estimates the extent of the association between an exposure and a disease. It estimates
the likelihood of developing the disease in the exposed group as compared to the unexposed group.
A relative risk >1.0 indicates a positive association or an increased risk. This risk increases in strength
as the magnitude of the relative risk increases.
A relative risk = 1.0 indicates that the incidence rates of disease in the exposed group is equal to the
incidence rates in unexposed group. Therefore the data does not provide evidence for an Association.
Relative risk is not expressed in negative numbers.
Temporality cause/exposure must precede effect/outcome
2. Consistency observation of association must be repeatable in different populations at different
3. Coherence, 1-1 relationship exposure is always associated with outcome/ outcome is always
caused by the specific exposure
4. Strength of association relationship is clear and risk estimate is high
5. Biological plausibility biological explanation makes sense
6. Dose/response (biologic gradient) increasing risk is associated with increasing exposure
Bias - systematic error in an epidemiologic study that results in an incorrect estimation of the
association between exposure and health-related event Confounding occurs when the effects of two
risk factors are mixed in the occurrence of the health-related event under study - when an extraneous
factor is related to both disease and exposure
Cluster - An aggregation of cases over a particular period closely grouped in time and space,
regardless of whether the number is more than the expected number
Outbreak - More cases of a particular disease than expected in a given area or among a specialized
group of people over a particular period of time.
Epidemic - Large numbers of people over a wide geographical area are affected
Pandemic - An epidemic occurring over several countries or continents and affecting a large proportion
of the population.
Surveillance - The systematic and ongoing collection, analysis, interpretation, and dissemination of
health data. The purpose of public health surveillance is to gain knowledge of the patterns of disease,
injury, and other health problems in a community so that we can work towards their prevention and
Plague - A serious, potentially life-threatening infectious disease that is usually transmitted to humans
by the bites of rodent fleas. It was one of the scourges of our early history. There are three major forms
of the disease: bubonic, septicemic, and pneumonic.
Fomite - A physical object that serves to transmit an infectious agent from person to person.
Risk - The probability that an individual will be affected by, or die from, an illness or injury within a
stated time or age span. Risk of illness is generally considered to be the same as the Incidence (see
below) and the terms are used interchangeably. Age-span is not usually a consideration in this usage.
Risk of death from a particular illness is expressed as the Case Fatality Rate (Number deaths due to a
disease/Number with the disease) or the Cause-specific Mortality Rate (Number deaths due to a
disease/Number in population). Age span is a more common consideration in this last usage.
Zoonosis - An infectious disease that is transmissible from animals to humans.
Incubation Period - Time in between when a person comes into contact with a pathogen and when they
first show symptoms or signs of disease.

Endemic Disease - Present at a continuous level throughout a population/geographic area; constant

presence of an agent/health condition within a given geographic area/population; refers to the usual
prevalence of an agent/condition.
Agent - A microbial organism with the ability to cause disease.
Portal of Exit - A place of exit providing a way for an agent to leave the reservoir. What serve as
portals of exit are often not terribly surprising, at least, once something is known of how and where a
pathogen replicates and enters new hosts. Respiratory infections tend to utilize the mouth and nose as
portals of exit. A more general portal of exit occurs when an infected animal is butchered or an infected
person undergoes surgery. The three most common portals of exit are the skin, gastrointestinal tract,
and respiratory tract.
Mode of Transmission - Method of transfer by which the organism moves or is carried from one place
to another; the transfer of disease-causing microorganisms from one environment to another,
particularly from an external environment to a susceptible individual. There are three general categories
of transmission: contact, vehicle, and vector.
Portal of Entry - An opening allowing the microorganism to enter the host; the route a pathogen takes
to enter a host. Just as with the portals of exit, many pathogens have preferred portals of entry. Many
pathogens are not able to cause disease if their usual portal of entry is artificially bypassed. The most
common portal of entry is the mucous membrane of the respiratory tract.
Susceptible Host - A person who cannot resist a microorganism invading the body, multiplying, and
resulting in infection.
Contact Transmission - sub-categories include direct (person-to-person), indirect (fomite), or droplet.
Vehicle Transmission - transmission via a medium such as food, air, and liquid, which are al routinely
taken into the body, and thus serve as vehicles into the body.
Primary prevention - early intervention to avoid initial exposure to agent of disease preventing the
process from starting
Secondary prevention - during the latent stage (when the disease has just begun), process of
screening and instituting treatment may prevent progression to symptomatic disease Tertiary
prevention - during the symptomatic stage (when the patient shows symptoms), intervention may
arrest, slow, or reverse the progression of disease
Quaternary prevention - set of health activities to mitigate or avoid consequences of
unnecessary/excessive intervention of the health system. Social credit that legitimizes medical
intervention may be damaged if doctors don't prevent unnecessary medical activity and its
Botulism-Form of food poisoning caused by a neurotoxin produced by Clostridium botulinum.
Sometimes found in improperly canned or preserved food.
Broad-spectrum drug-Chemotherapeutic agent that is effective across a wide range of different types
of pathogens.
Chemotherapeutic agentCompound used in the treatment of disease that kills or inhibits the
growth of microorganisms and does so at concentrations low enough to avoid doing damage to the host.
Contact transmission-Transmission of an infectious agent by direct contact of the source or its
reservoir with the host.
Disinfectant-Agent that kills, inhibits, or removes microorganisms that may cause disease.
Host-Body of an organism that harbors another organism. The host provides a microenvironment that
supports the growth and reproduction of the parasitic organism.
Intermediate host-Host that serves as a temporary but essential environment for the completion of a
parasite's life cycle.
Morbidity rate-Number of individuals who become ill with a particular disease within a susceptible
population during a specified time period.
Mortality rate-Ratio of the number of deaths from a particular disease to the total number of cases of
the disease.
Pandemic-Increase in the occurrence of a disease in a large and geographically widespread population.
Sometimes called a
-Organism that lives on or within another organism (the host). The relationship benefits
the parasite and harms the host.
Reservoir-Site, alternate host, or carrier that harbors pathogenic organisms and serves as a source
from which other individuals can be infected.
Source-Location or object from which a pathogen is immediately transmitted to a host.
Toxin-Microbial product or component that at low concentrations can injure a cell or organism.
Transformation-Mode of gene transfer in bacteria in which a piece of DNA in the environment is taken
up by a bacterium and integrated into the bacterium's genome.

Vaccine-Preparation of killed microorganisms; living, weakened (attenuated) microorganisms; inactive

or attenuated virus particles; inactivated bacterial toxins; or components (protein, carbohydrate, or
nucleic acid) of the microorganism that are administered to stimulate an immune response. Vaccines
protect an individual against the pathogenic agent or substance in the future.
Vector-Living organism that transfers an infective agent from one host to another.
Vector-borne transmission-Transmission of an infectious pathogen between hosts by way of a vector.
Virus-Infectious agent composed of a protein coat and a single type of nucleic acid. Lacks an
independent metabolism and reproduces only within a host cell.