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What Is a Population and What Is Population Health? 

What Is a Population and What Is Population Health?
What Is a Population and What Is Population Health?

Katherine M. Keyes

and Sandro Galea

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date: 05 August 2020

This chapter introduces step one: identify a population of interest. Epidemiologists ask questions about the health of groups, such as whether the illness is common or rare, why illness is more common in one group compared with another, and what the common causes of illness are within a population of interest. The first step in conducting an epidemiologic study is to conceptualize, define, and operationalize the population of interest. Eligibility criteria for study populations are in three main domains: geographic space and time; a characteristic, event, or exposure; or particular considerations needed to improve compliance and adherence to the study protocol. Although inherently dynamic with a constant influx and outflow of individuals due to birth and death, populations for epidemiologic study may be dynamic or stationary depending on these eligibility criteria. To be successful, epidemiologic studies rely on specific and predetermined criteria that characterize a population.

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