Introduction to Epidemiology

Donna K. Arnett, Steven A. Claas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Scopus citations


This chapter introduces the concept of epidemiology, which employs the tools of basic science (e.g., observation, hypothesis testing, statistics, correlation, and causal reasoning) to protect, promote, and restore health and well-being in populations. It discusses the fundamental principles of descriptive and analytic epidemiology. The goal is not to provide definitive descriptions of all elements of population-based medical research, but rather to explain the rudiments of the science of epidemiology and create a context in which topics presented in subsequent chapters can be understood. It defines the concepts of incidence and prevalence, outlines the basic epidemiological principles of risk and association, discusses the various types of studies used to conduct epidemiological research, and cautions against forces and factors that may threaten the validity and reliability of such studies. The chapter also considers the theoretical and practical constraints on making claims of causation in epidemiology. The text explores the differences between traditional public health epidemiology and clinical epidemiology. Finally, it discusses the role of the concepts of sex, gender, race, and ethnicity in epidemiology, and encourages health professionals to define and deploy these socially charged categories with care. Furthermore, the practice of epidemiology can be conceptually organized into two approaches-descriptive and analytic. © 2009

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClinical and Translational Science
Number of pages15
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Introduction to Epidemiology'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this