Epidemiology is the scientific study of factors affecting the health and illness of populations, and it serves as the foundation and logic of interventions made in the interest of public health and preventive medicine. It is considered a cornerstone methodology of public health research, and is highly regarded in evidence-based medicine for identifying risk factors for disease and determining optimal treatment approaches to clinical practice.
Epidemiologists work on issues ranging from the practical, such as outbreak investigation, environmental exposure, and health promotion, to the theoretical, including the development of statistical, mathematical, philosophical, biological, and psychosocial theory. To this end, epidemiologists employ a range of study designs from the observational to experimental, with the purpose of revealing unbiased relationships between exposures such as tobacco, nutrition, biological agents, stress, or chemicals to outcomes such as disease, wellness and other health indicators. Defining the diseases, drawing disease causal chains, and formulation of health strategy are important aspects of epidemiology. Modern epidemiologists use disease informatics as a tool.
Epidemiologists work in a variety of settings. Some work in the community, commonly in a public health service, and are often at the forefront of investigating and combating disease outbreaks. Others work for non-profit organizations, universities, and larger government entities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Facts & Figures
Classification: Specialized Institution—Medical school or medical center
Locale: Midsize City
Size & Settings: 1,000-2,999