(1/552) Does risk factor epidemiology put epidemiology at risk? Peering into the future.
The multiple cause black box paradigm of the current risk factor era in epidemiology is growing less serviceable. This single level paradigm is likely to be displaced. The signs are that the growing strength of molecular epidemiology on the one side, and of a global epidemiology based on information systems on the other, will come to dominate epidemiology and segregate it into separate disciplines. At the same time, the links with public health interests grow weaker. A multilevel ecoepidemiology has the potential to bind these strands together. (+info)
(2/552) Disease patterns of the homeless in Tokyo.
In recent years, homelessness has been recognized as a growing urban social problem in various countries throughout the world. The health problems of the homeless are considerable. The purpose of this study was to elicit, with sociodemographic profiles, the disease patterns among Tokyo's homeless. The subjects were 1,938 men who stayed at a welfare institution from 1992 to 1996. Diagnosed diseases/injuries and sociodemographic profiles were analyzed. The disease patterns of the homeless were compared to those of the male general population. Of the subjects, 8.3% were admitted to the hospital; 64.0% received outpatient care. Their observed morbidity rates by disease category were greater than those of the male general population in both Japan and Tokyo. Comorbidity of alcoholic psychosis/alcohol-dependent syndrome to both liver disease and pulmonary tuberculosis were greater than the average (P < .01). Construction work brought a higher risk of pulmonary tuberculosis (odds ratio = 2.0) and dorsopathies (odds ratio = 1.4) than did other jobs (P < .05). Disease patterns among the homeless in Tokyo were characterized by alcoholic psychosis/alcohol-dependence syndrome; liver disease; pulmonary tuberculosis; diabetes mellitus; fractures, dislocations, sprains, strains; hypertension; and cerebrovascular disease. Although the sociodemographic backgrounds of Tokyo's homeless have become more diverse, the principal occupation of the homeless was unskilled daily construction work, which underlay the characteristics of their disease patterns. (+info)
(3/552) Primary hip and knee replacement surgery: Ontario criteria for case selection and surgical priority.
OBJECTIVES: To develop, from simple clinical factors, criteria to identify appropriate patients for referral to a surgeon for consideration for arthroplasty, and to rank them in the queue once surgery is agreed. DESIGN: Delphi process, with a panel including orthopaedic surgeons, rheumatologists, general practitioners, epidemiologists, and physiotherapists, who rated 120 case scenarios for appropriateness and 42 for waiting list priority. Scenarios incorporated combinations of relevant clinical factors. It was assumed that queues should be organised not simply by chronology but by clinical and social impact of delayed surgery. The panel focused on information obtained from clinical histories, to ensure the utility of the guidelines in practice. Relevant high quality research evidence was limited. SETTING: Ontario, Canada. MAIN MEASURES: Appropriateness ratings on a 7-point scale, and urgency rankings on a 4-point scale keyed to specific waiting times. RESULTS: Despite incomplete evidence panellists agreed on ratings in 92.5% of appropriateness and 73.8% of urgency scenarios versus 15% and 18% agreement expected by chance, respectively. Statistically validated algorithms in decision tree form, which should permit rapid estimation of urgency or appropriateness in practice, were compiled by recursive partitioning. Rating patterns and algorithms were also used to make brief written guidelines on how clinical factors affect appropriateness and urgency of surgery. A summary score was provided for each case scenario; scenarios could then be matched to chart audit results, with scoring for quality management. CONCLUSIONS: These algorithms and criteria can be used by managers or practitioners to assess appropriateness of referral for hip or knee replacement and relative rankings of patients in the queue for surgery. (+info)
(4/552) Prisoners of the proximate: loosening the constraints on epidemiology in an age of change.
"Modern epidemiology" has a primary orientation to the study of multiple risk factors for chronic noncommunicable diseases. If epidemiologists are to understand the determinants of population health in terms that extend beyond proximate, individual-level risk factors (and their biological mediators), they must learn to apply a social-ecologic systems perspective. The mind-set and methods of modern epidemiology entail the following four main constraints that limit engagement in issues of wider context: 1) a preoccupation with proximate risk factors; 2) a focus on individual-level versus population-level influences on health; 3) a typically modular (time-windowed) view of how individuals undergo changes in risk status (i.e., a life-stage vs. a life-course model of risk acquisition); and 4) the, as yet, unfamiliar challenge of scenario-based forecasting of health consequences of future, large-scale social and environmental changes. The evolution of the content and methods of epidemiology continues. Epidemiologists are gaining insights into the complex social and environmental systems that are the context for health and disease; thinking about population health in increasingly ecologic terms; developing dynamic, interactive, life-course models of disease risk acquisition; and extending their spatial-temporal frame of reference as they perceive the health risks posed by escalating human pressures on the wider environment. The constraints of "the proximate" upon epidemiology are thus loosening as the end of the century approaches. (+info)
(5/552) The effects of local spatial structure on epidemiological invasions.
Predicting the likely success of invasions is vitally important in ecology and especially epidemiology. Whether an organism can successfully invade and persist in the short-term is highly dependent on the spatial correlations that develop in the early stages of invasion. By modelling the correlations between individuals, we are able to understand the role of spatial heterogeneity in invasion dynamics without the need for large-scale computer simulations. Here, a natural methodology is developed for modelling the behaviour of individuals in a fixed network. This formulation is applied to the spread of a disease through a structured network to determine invasion thresholds and some statistical properties of a single epidemic. (+info)
(6/552) Food and nutrient exposures: what to consider when evaluating epidemiologic evidence.
Nutritional epidemiology is the science concerned with conducting research into the relation between diet and disease risk. The public has a great deal of interest in this issue. Much of that interest, however, is fueled by the publication of sensationalized, startling, and often contradictory health messages. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of confusion in both the scientific press and the public or lay press about the nature of nutritional epidemiology, its strengths, and its limitations. The purpose of this article is to discuss these strengths and limitations. It is hoped that clarification of these issues can help lead to a resolution of the research community's and lay public's misunderstandings about nutritional epidemiology research. (+info)
(7/552) Causal criteria in nutritional epidemiology.
Making nutrition recommendations involves complex judgments about the balance between benefits and risks associated with a nutrient or food. Causal criteria are central features of such judgments but are not sufficient. Other scientific considerations include study designs, statistical tests, bias, confounding, and measurement issues. At a minimum, the set of criteria includes consistency, strength of association, dose response, plausibility, and temporality. The current practice, methods, and theory of causal inference permit flexibility in the choice of criteria, their relative priority, and the rules of inference assigned to them. Our approach is as follows. Consistency across study designs is compelling when the studies are of high quality and are not subject to biases. A statistically significant risk estimate with a > 20% increase or decrease in risk is considered a positive finding. A statistically significant linear or otherwise regularly increasing trend reinforces the judgment in favor of a recommendation. A plausible hypothesis likewise reinforces a recommendation, although the rules of inference for biological evidence are highly variable and depend on the situation. Temporality is, for nutrition recommendations, more a consideration of the extent to which a dietary factor affects disease onset or progression. Evidence supporting these criteria provides a strong basis for making a nutrition recommendation, given due consideration of the balance between presumed benefits and presumed harms. Recommendations should make clear their breadth of application; a narrow recommendation involves a single disease or condition whereas a broad recommendation involves all relevant diseases or conditions. (+info)
(8/552) Diet and health risk: risk patterns and disease-specific associations.
Whether such epidemiologic descriptors as relative risk, dose response, and threshold points convey meaningful information is often the subject of debate. Thus, using these descriptors to juxtapose the many disease-specific effects of nutritional exposures becomes problematic. In this article it is argued that epidemiologic patterns of disease-exposure associations must be interpreted in light of the profound imprecision of exposure assessment that characterizes nutritional epidemiology. In general, this imprecision leads to substantial attenuation of disease-exposure associations, such that relative risk, dose response, and the extent to which there are thresholds in disease-exposure associations can be seriously underestimated. Linking disease-specific relative risks, especially when derived from different studies with different methods of assessing exposure, is made increasingly difficult. The most critical tasks for lessening bias in these epidemiologic descriptors are first, to lessen imprecision in measuring exposures, and second, to adjust association estimates for attenuation due to measurement imprecision. (+info)