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Epidemiology and the rheumatic diseases 

Epidemiology and the rheumatic diseases
Chapter:
Epidemiology and the rheumatic diseases
Source:
Oxford Textbook of Rheumatology (4 ed.)
Author(s):

Deborah P. M. Symmons

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199642489.003.0027

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease in populations. Clinical epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of outcomes in populations with a specific disease. The occurrence of disease may be described in terms of incidence (the number of new cases per 100 000 population per year), prevalence (the proportion of the population affected), and mortality. The distribution of disease may be influenced by person, place, and time. Risk factors for disease and disease outcome are generally divided into genetic and non-genetic factors. In order to determine whether a particular factor influences disease onset or outcome it is important to have an appropriate non-disease group as a comparison. This chapter describes the types of study design which are suitable for evaluating disease occurrence (cross-sectional and longitudinal studies) and risk markers for disease and disease outcome (case-control and cohort studies). The chapter presents a template which includes the incidence and prevalence of the most common musculoskeletal conditions by age and gender with a common perspective (presentation to primary care in the United Kingdom). It also includes a summary of the best recognized risk factors for disease onset and outcome. Finally there is reference to common pitfalls in interpreting statistics on risk.

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