Show Summary Details
Page of

Interrelated concepts in the epidemiology of disease: Natural history and incubation period, time trends in populations, spectrum, iceberg, and screening 

Interrelated concepts in the epidemiology of disease: Natural history and incubation period, time trends in populations, spectrum, iceberg, and screening
Chapter:
Interrelated concepts in the epidemiology of disease: Natural history and incubation period, time trends in populations, spectrum, iceberg, and screening
Author(s):

Raj S. Bhopal

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198739685.003.0006
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD MEDICINE ONLINE (www.oxfordmedicine.com). © Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Medicine Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 21 October 2020

The natural history of disease is the uninterrupted progression of disease from its initiation to either spontaneous resolution, containment by the body’s repair mechanisms, or to a clinically detectable problem. Related concepts include the changing pattern of disease in populations and levels of severity (spectrum) of disease. Often the number of cases identified is exceeded by those not discovered. An illustrative metaphor for this is the iceberg. The pyramid of disease develops this into a population concept. Screening is the application of tests to diagnose disease (or precursors) in an earlier phase of the natural history of disease, often in well people, or in a less severe part of the disease spectrum than is achieved in routine medical practice. The potential of screening is vast but there are important limitations, such as the inability to influence the natural history of many diseases.

Access to the complete content on Oxford Medicine Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.