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USES OF EPIDEMIOLOGY:

Mortis has identified seven distinct uses of epidemiology.

   1) TO STUDY HISTORICALLY THE RISE & FALL OF DISEASE IN POPULATION: Health & disease pattern in a community changes over short & long periods of time. Epidemiology provides a means to study disease profiles & time trends in human population.

Example- First CHD was an epidemic. Later accidents, cancer & diabetics were found to be epidemic. Old disease (small pox) replaced by new ones (Legionnaires disease, Lassa Fever, AIDS).

   2) COMMUNITY DIAGNOSIS: Community diagnosis refers to the identification & quantification of health problem in a community in terms of mortality & morbidity rates & ratios & identification of their correlates for the purpose of defining those individuals or groups at risk or those in need of health care.

   3) PLANNING & EVALUATION: Planning is essential allocation of limited resources- A) Planning facilities for medical care (no of hospital beds required, health man-power planning). B) Planning facilities for preventive services (screening programme, immunisation campaign). Evaluation is required to control or prevent a disease.

Example-  Hepatitis vaccine requires more than the demonstrations of its effectiveness in reducing disease frequency.

   4) EVALUATION OF INDIVIDUAL RISK & CHANCES: Make a statement about- Relative risk, attribute risk for a factor, incidence rate & specific rate.

Example- Risk for smoker & non-smoker for developing lung cancer.

   5) SYNDROME IDENTIFICATION: Medical syndromes are identified by observing frequency associated findings in individual patient.

Example- “Poverty” gradient differentiate gastric & duodenal ulcers.

   6) COMPLETING THE NATURAL HISTORY OF DISEASE: By studying disease pattern in community in relation to agent, host & environmental factors to fill up the gaps in natural history of disease.

   7) SEARCHING FOR CAUSES & RISK FACTORS: The concept of “Risk factors” gave renewed impetus to epidemiological research.

Example- Rubella is the cause of congenital defects of new born, Thalidomide is a teratogenic agent.

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