Functions of Epidemiology
Define the core functions of epidemiology. Select one of the epidemiologic core functions and explain how the core function might be demonstrated in clinical practice by a master’s-prepared registered nurse.
The study of epidemiology helps in addressing community health issues. It comprises systematic research of frequency patterns and indicators of health and wellness affiliated states and occasions of such occurrences, the pool of individuals from which a statistical sample is drawn for a study and the application of information gained from the study to control health problems.
The main epidemiological functions include public health surveillance, field information gathering, research, assessment, and policy development (Benjamin, 2020). A team of epidemiologists carries out these tasks to promote and protect public health
Field investigation is usually done in response to acute public health problems. It is conducted after notification of a suspected disease outbreak from public health surveillance, laboratory tests, astute clinicians, or the media. A clear definition of the objective of the investigation must be made before the start of the investigation. (Levterova, 2020)
An investigation is usually conducted in steps (Beer & Rao, 2019). The first step is the preparation of fieldwork. It focuses on operational aspects, which include ensuring that the team unanimously supports the purpose of investigation and the requisite approvals for the information gathering are dully supplied. Secondly, confirmation or verification of the diagnosis ensures that the investigation addresses the issues reported and reduces the chances of misdiagnosis and laboratory errors. Implementation of diagnosis involves interviewing and clinical assessment of the victims, reviewing clinical information and medical records, and confirming laboratory test results.
The third step is establishing the presence of an outbreak. It helps determine the number of resources allocated for a full-scale investigation. It also serves in ruling out any spurious problems such as pseudoepidemics. Identifying and counting cases is another step that aims at ascertaining the number of cases. Descriptive epidemiology, where data obtained from the investigation is tabulated and orientated in terms of time, place, and person (Beer & Rao, 2019). These data help draw epidemic curves and spot maps and compare specific groups of persons. This information is vital in the development of hypotheses.
Epidemiologists must then consider the chance of applying control measures at that instant. It is always a norm to apply control measures before developing and testing hypotheses, though, in practice, a decision can be made at any step in the sequence. Hypotheses study helps determine the disease-causing agents, source of agent, and means of transmission of the disease. It is also essential to plan for future data-driven studies or investigations to improve the quality of information concluded in the investigation (Beer & Rao, 2019). Implementation and evaluation of scientifically reasonable control measures for the outbreak are done. Finally, the findings from the field investigation are communicated to the public and stakeholders.
Beer, E. M., & Rao, V. B. (2019). A systematic review of the epidemiology of human monkeypox outbreaks and implications for outbreak strategy. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 13(10), e0007791. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007791
Benjamin, G. (2020). Perspectives From the Field: Using Legal Epidemiology to Advance Public Health Practice. Journal Of Public Health Management And Practice, 26(2), S93-S95. https://doi.org/10.1097/phh.0000000000001108
Levterova, B. (2020). APPLIED EPIDEMIOLOGY – HISTORY AND FUTURE. Knowledge International Journal, 28(4), 1179-1182. https://doi.org/10.35120/kij28041179b