According to Friis, epidemiology has to do with the distribution and determinants of health and diseases, morbidity, injuries, disability, and mortality in populations. It is considered a basic science of public health, because its studies are applied to the control of the various health problems in the population. Also, its methods are applied to various health-related fields such as health care administration and health education. Because its focus is on the amount of health and disease in the population, it is at times referred to as population medicine.
There are various uses and applications of epidemiology. Some specific applications of epidemiology that Friis did not specifically mention in lesson 1are genetic epidemiology, environmental epidemiology, and occupational epidemiology. Genetic epidemiology puts an emphasis on hereditary factors that may play a role in various human diseases in families and in populations. Research in this area is focused on the risk factors and traits of the genetic basis of diseases. Members of a Psychiatry department in Virginia completed a meta-analysis on the genetic epidemiology of major depression using relevant data from previous primary studies. They concluded that major depression is as a result of genetic influence, not alone, but along with environmental influence.
This conclusion was made on the basis of a review of family, adoption, and twin studies that met specific criteria for the primary studies. Environmental epidemiology studies the environmental exposures that are related to various diseases, illnesses, developmental conditions, disabilities, and deaths in populations. Some examples of these environmental exposures are air pollution, radiation through air, water, or food contamination, second-hand smoke, and hazardous waste. Health conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive problems are some of the effects of these environmental exposures. A local example of this is the pollution from the refineries here in Corpus Christi. People who reside near the refineries have a 17% higher cancer rate than the rest of the city. There are apparently many consistently sick residents in the area. They are called the ‘Black Thumb’ neighborhood, because the soil in the area is poisoned and contaminated by the pollution from the refineries.
The application of epidemiologic methods to populations of workers is occupational epidemiology. Studies on this topic involve various work-related patterns of disease and illness. They look at workers exposed to various risk factors such as heavy metals or chemicals and determine if these exposures result in adverse health outcomes. There is also a focus on biological and physical health effects as well. Occupational Epidemiologists attempt to study how often workers are injured on the job, what groups are most affected, and the reasons for these injuries. The results from these studies are used to find ways to prevent or reduce the risks of injuries and illnesses on the job. In conclusion, the various epidemiologic methods and studies are applied to the control of health problems in populations. Three specific applications of epidemiology are genetic epidemiology, environmental epidemiology, and occupational epidemiology.
Genetic epidemiology is concerned with the role of genetic factors in determining health and disease in families and in populations. Environmental epidemiology is concerned with the relationship between exposures from the environment and adverse health outcomes in populations. Occupational epidemiology studies work-related patterns of disease and illnesses. The existence of these various epidemiologic applications help to identify and prevent the causes of health and disease in our communities. Epidemiology provides us with necessary and beneficial information we need to live a healthy life. References
Corpus Christi’s Refinery Row. (n.d.). Retreived from www.txpeer.org/toxictour/corpus_christi.html Friis, R. (2010). Epidemiology 101. Jones and Bartlett Publishers. Kendler, K.S., Neale, M.C., Sullivan, P.F. (2010) Genetic epidemiology of major depression: review and meta-anyalysis. Am J Psychiatry. 157(10): 1552-62 Occupational Epidemiology. (n.d.). Heartland Center for Occupational Health & Safety. Retrieved from www.public-health.uiowa.edu/heartland/academic-programs/occ-epi.html