Epidemiology and Primary Diabetes Prevention

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Epidemiology Paper

Mazurah Smith

University of Phoenix

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics, "[By 1993] death certificates listed diabetes as the fifth leading cause of death for Blacks aged 45 to 64, and the third leading cause of death for those aged 65 and older in 1990.” (Bailey, 2007). These statistics show how serious the problem of diabetes has become in the black community. Epidemiological studies can focus the efforts of the healthcare community to effective interventions aimed at lowering the prevalence and incidence of diabetes among African Americans.

This paper will explore the role of epidemiology in the surveillance of the incidence of diabetes in the morbidity and mortality of Americans of African descent. This paper will also discuss the definition and purpose of epidemiology, epidemiological methods, the epidemiological triangle and levels of prevention as they relate to diabetes in the African American community.

Definition and purpose of epidemiology

The definition of epidemiology is very important if one is to use the definition to describe its purpose. “A common definition of epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of disease frequency in human populations.” (Savitz, et al, 1999). Scott and Marshall (2008) do a better job when they describe epidemiology as “the analysis of the incidence and spread of disease within populations, with the aim of establishing causality.” The purpose of epidemiology is to find the causes of diseases that affect a population. The discipline of epidemiology influences the practices of both clinical medicine and public health. Epidemiology can be used as a major determinant of evidence based practice because the outcome of surveillance is often used to guide changes in how these disciplines practice. Epidemiological studies can also influence the types of services offered by community agencies if those agencies survey the types of services that would benefit the community.

Another purpose of epidemiology is to predict the occurrence of diseases in the future including where and under what circumstances diseases may occur and who will be affected. (Lukes, 2007). This type of foresight assists those serving that population to provide educational resources in order to avoid the negative impact of disease on that population. A sufficiently large group must be studied to provide reliable results in such an undertaking. Once this is achieved, the resulting information is a valuable tool in the prevention of morbidity and mortality in populations at risk for certain diseases or injuries.

Epidemiological methods

There are several methods that are used by modern epidemiologists. One such method is the morbidity survey. The morbidity survey is a gathering of morbidity data of both the sick and the well. One of the limits of this type of data gathering is that only general data can be gathered.

In San Bernardino County, one way data is collected is by use of a retrospective cohort study. Data is gathered from the participants then results are divided according to groups. Participants self report the data gathered so instances of diabetes in California may be higher than those reported. The incidence of a disease is compared to the prevalence. The incidence is the number of new cases of a particular disease over a period of time. The prevalence is the total number of new cases of that disease. The epidemiologist then compares the results of studies to determine the incidence of diabetes, identifies related trends, and suggests ways to control the morbidity and mortality related to the disease.

Based on the results of the California Health Interview Survey, San Bernardino County published a prevalence and risk factor report in 2005 regarding diabetes and county residents. African Americans had a prevalence rate of 6.15 % in...
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