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Epidemiology; Global and Public Health

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Epidemiology: Global and Public Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control, "diabetes affects 25.8 million people, 8.3% of the U.S. population" (Center for Disease control and Prevention, 2012, par 1). Twice as many African Americans are likely to develop diabetes than Caucasian Americans. These statistics represent how serious diabetes has become for the black community. Epidemiology can focus healthcare efforts and interventions to help lower the incidence of diabetes of the African Americans. This paper will focus on the role of epidemiology in the observation of the frequency of diabetes in the morbidity and mortality of American of African decent. This paper will also include the definition and description of epidemiology, epidemiological methods, the epidemiological triangle, types of epidemiology, and prevention that is related with diabetes in the African American community.

Definition and Description of Epidemiology

Epidemiology is defined as, "the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to control of health problems." (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2012, p. 243). Epidemiology has provided an understanding of the factors, which contribute to health and disease, and the development of health promotion and disease prevention measures. The purpose of epidemiology is to find the causes of the disease that affect a population. Epidemiology has influences on both clinical medicine and public health practices. Outcomes from epidemiology are a major element of evidenced based practice; the outcomes of monitoring are frequently utilized to guide a change in the way nursing disciplines practice and perform.

Epidemiological Methods

There are several methods an epidemiologist can use when conducting a survey. Studies may include descriptions, analyzing, experiments, preparing reports, and evaluating results. A morbidity survey is the gathering of morbidity of both the sick and healthy. A morbidity survey limits the types of data collected; the data is typically only general and not specific. (California Diabetes Program, 2011)

In Riverside County, California, diabetic data is collected retrospectively, using a retrospective cohort study. The information collected from the participants is then reviewed and divided into groups, depending on the results. Participants of the study self-report the data so the occurrence of diabetes in Riverside County has the possibility of being higher than reported. The number of reported cases of diabetes is related to the prevalence. Prevalence is the total number of new cases of the disease, for this study that would be the diabetes of the African Americans living in Riverside County, California. The epidemiologist of Riverside County, compare all of the reported statistics to determine the incidence of diabetes, identify trends, and suggestions are made of ways to control the morbidity and mortality of diabetes for the African Americans living in Riverside County (County of Riverside Department of Public Health Epidemiology and Program Evaluation, 2011). The results are published for all residents to see the impact of diabetes within Riverside County.

Based on the results of the Riverside County research, diabetes contributed to three percent of all deaths in Riverside County in 2005. Prevalence is based on the clinically diagnosed, which is underestimated many more people are considered borderline diabetics who tend not to seek treatment until they suffer significant consequences. The prevalence of diabetes in the Riverside County adult population is estimated to be 6.1 %, slightly lower than the 6.6 % prevalence for the state of California. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90 % of the diagnosed cases in Riverside County. African Americans have a statistically stable mortality rate 37.5 death per 100,000 populations (County of Riverside Department of Public Health Epidemiology & Program Evaluation, 2006). Obesity, sedentary lifestyles, and poor nutrition continue to be risk factors for all African Americans who reside in Riverside County.

Epidemiological Triangle

The epidemiological triangle has three sides; the sides consist of the host, the agent, and the environment. The host is the person who is affected by the disease. The agent is the organism causing the disease. Lastly, the environment would be all of the outside conditions that make the host susceptible to the agent. One or more of these factors must be changed to prevent disease (The NCHS Biology Lounge, 2009). The agent interacts with the host and the environment to cause the disease. All of the outside conditions that make the host susceptible to the agent would be the environment. The health of the host is considered to be a condition of the environment. An example of this would be a host who is African American. The agent would be the diabetes, and the environment would be the risk factors. These risk factors would include: a family history, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and obesity. Simple modifications in just one portion of the triangle can influence the rate of the disease by increasing or decreasing a person's risk for disease (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008, p. 256).

Types of Epidemiology Used for Epidemiology Paper

Observational and descriptive epidemiology are just two types of research that are available for the study of diabetes. An observational epidemiology study is when the investigator observes events as they are or have been and does not interfere to change anything or introduce new factors (Medical Dictionary by Farlex, 2012). Observational studies have made important contributions to the knowledge and understanding of conditions studied. Large groups of individuals are required for an observational study, when studying diabetes the residents of the community are the studied. Observational epidemiology is used identify the relationship between the disease and exposure to that disease. Descriptive epidemiology is often considered to be the first stage of an epidemiologic investigation, focusing on answering simple questions of who, what, when, and why (Medical Dictionary by Farlex, 2012). Descriptive epidemiology asks questions about who gets a disease, and under what conditions is the patient likely to get the disease.

Population Characteristics Influence Vulnerability

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