The science of epidemiology and the methods needed for public health assessments: a review of epidemiology textbooks

Gouda, Hebe N. and Powles, John W. (2014) The science of epidemiology and the methods needed for public health assessments: a review of epidemiology textbooks. BMC Public Health, 14 1: 139.1-139.12. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-139


Author Gouda, Hebe N.
Powles, John W.
Title The science of epidemiology and the methods needed for public health assessments: a review of epidemiology textbooks
Journal name BMC Public Health   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication date 2014-02-10
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-14-139
Open Access Status DOI
Volume 14
Issue 1
Start page 139.1
End page 139.12
Total pages 12
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher BioMed Central
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Objectives: Epidemiology is often described as 'the science of public health'. Here we aim to assess the extent that epidemiological methods, as covered in contemporary standard textbooks, provide tools that can assess the relative magnitude of public health problems and can be used to help rank and assess public health priorities.

Study Design: Narrative literature review.

Methods: Thirty textbooks were grouped into three categories; pure, extended or applied epidemiology, were reviewed with attention to the ways the discipline is characterised and the nature of the analytical methods described.

Results: Pure texts tend to present a strict hierarchy of methods with those metrics deemed to best serve aetiological inquiry at the top. Extended and applied texts employ broader definitions of epidemiology but in most cases, the metrics described are also those used in aetiological inquiry and may not be optimal for capturing the consequences and social importance of injuries and disease onsets.

Conclusions: The primary scientific purpose of epidemiology, even amongst 'applied' textbooks, is aetiological inquiry. Authors do not readily extend to methods suitable for assessing public health problems and priorities.
Keyword Epidemiological methods
Population health metrics
Public health
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2015 Collection
School of Public Health Publications
 
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Created: Mon, 10 Mar 2014, 18:35:30 EST by Hebe Gouda on behalf of School of Public Health