Modern Methods for Epidemiology


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Other methods are being developed, but are not common practice yet. Different fields in epidemiology have different levels of validity. One way to assess the validity of findings is the ratio of false-positives claimed effects that are not correct to false-negatives studies which fail to support a true effect. To take the field of genetic epidemiology, candidate-gene studies produced over false-positive findings for each false-negative.

By contrast genome-wide association appear close to the reverse, with only one false positive for every or more false-negatives. By contrast other epidemiological fields have not required such rigorous reporting and are much less reliable as a result. Random error is the result of fluctuations around a true value because of sampling variability. Random error is just that: random. It can occur during data collection, coding, transfer, or analysis. Examples of random error include: poorly worded questions, a misunderstanding in interpreting an individual answer from a particular respondent, or a typographical error during coding.

Random error affects measurement in a transient, inconsistent manner and it is impossible to correct for random error. There is random error in all sampling procedures.

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This is called sampling error. Precision in epidemiological variables is a measure of random error. Precision is also inversely related to random error, so that to reduce random error is to increase precision. Confidence intervals are computed to demonstrate the precision of relative risk estimates. The narrower the confidence interval, the more precise the relative risk estimate.

There are two basic ways to reduce random error in an epidemiological study. The first is to increase the sample size of the study. In other words, add more subjects to your study. The second is to reduce the variability in measurement in the study. This might be accomplished by using a more precise measuring device or by increasing the number of measurements. Note, that if sample size or number of measurements are increased, or a more precise measuring tool is purchased, the costs of the study are usually increased. There is usually an uneasy balance between the need for adequate precision and the practical issue of study cost.

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A systematic error or bias occurs when there is a difference between the true value in the population and the observed value in the study from any cause other than sampling variability. An example of systematic error is if, unknown to you, the pulse oximeter you are using is set incorrectly and adds two points to the true value each time a measurement is taken. The measuring device could be precise but not accurate.

Because the error happens in every instance, it is systematic. Conclusions you draw based on that data will still be incorrect. But the error can be reproduced in the future e. A mistake in coding that affects all responses for that particular question is another example of a systematic error.

The validity of a study is dependent on the degree of systematic error. Validity is usually separated into two components:. Selection bias occurs when study subjects are selected or become part of the study as a result of a third, unmeasured variable which is associated with both the exposure and outcome of interest. Sackett D cites the example of Seltzer et al. Information bias is bias arising from systematic error in the assessment of a variable. Confounding has traditionally been defined as bias arising from the co-occurrence or mixing of effects of extraneous factors, referred to as confounders, with the main effect s of interest.

The counterfactual or unobserved risk R A0 corresponds to the risk which would have been observed if these same individuals had been unexposed i. Some epidemiologists prefer to think of confounding separately from common categorizations of bias since, unlike selection and information bias, confounding stems from real causal effects. To date, few universities offer epidemiology as a course of study at the undergraduate level. One notable undergraduate program exists at Johns Hopkins University , where students who major in public health can take graduate level courses, including epidemiology, their senior year at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Although epidemiologic research is conducted by individuals from diverse disciplines, including clinically trained professionals such as physicians, formal training is available through Masters or Doctoral programs including Master of Public Health MPH , Master of Science of Epidemiology MSc. Many other graduate programs, e. Reflecting the strong historical tie between epidemiology and medicine, formal training programs may be set in either schools of public health and medical schools.

Some epidemiologists work 'in the field'; i. Epidemiologists can also work in for-profit organizations such as pharmaceutical and medical device companies in groups such as market research or clinical development. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For other uses, see Epidemiology disambiguation. See also: History of emerging infectious diseases.

Main article: Study design. Main article: Causal inference. Main article: Bradford Hill criteria. Medicine portal. A Dictionary of Epidemiology 6th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.


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