Maintenance and restoration of health in collaboration with the prevention and treatment of illness is imperative to the health of the public. Contemporary medicine incorporates science, research, and technology not only to maintain and restore health, but also to prevent and treat illness. A holistic approach is necessary to the success of public health and must integrate epidemiologic theory and principles at the foundation (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008, p. 243). The search for information to ensure health and prevent illness begins with epidemiology. Vulnerability permits susceptibility to deteriorations in health and leads to illness. Recognizing individuals and populations with vulnerability allows development of interventions to assist with overcoming vulnerability. Vulnerable Population
Vulnerability is susceptibility to injury or disease (“Vulnerable“, ¶ 1). Teens face many concerns as they near adulthood. Adolescents live with a belief of invulnerability, but many face threats to their health, safety, and welfare (Fischhoff & Willis, 2001, p. 109). Due to their perceived invulnerability, many teens underestimate the risks posed by particular behaviors (Fischhoff & Willis). The potentially unsafe behaviors can lead to life altering choices such as drug use. Disease of Interest
Drugs are meant to cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent disease, but at times an illicit substance causing addition, or habituation (“Drug“, 2009). Drug use and abuse is a vicious cycle perpetuated by stress, loneliness, or depression. The key forces driving most adolescents to the decision of drug abuse are anger, peer pressure, and stress (Students Against Destructive Decisions/Students Against Driving Drunk and Liberty Mutual [SADD/ Liberty Mutual], 2002, p. 1). Epidemiologists look for information to determine the causes of drug use in adolescents and assist with development of intervention programs to alter the future of our youth. Epidemiology
Definition and Description
Epidemiology is the study of distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to control of health problems (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008, p. 243). Epidemiologists and health care clinicians are both concerned with the occurrence and control of disease; however, the epidemiologist are concerned about the collective health of the people in a community or population (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2006). Epidemiologic information is used by public health officials as a factual structure to assist with decision-making when developing, implementing, and evaluation of policies (CDC, 2006). Epidemiologic investigation of the distribution or patterns of health events in populations characterizes health outcomes in terms of what, who, where, when, and why (Stanhope & Lancaster, 2008, p. 244). An epidemiologist’s “patient” is the community and thus has different responsibilities than a clinician when confronted with an individual’s illness (CDC, 2006). “The epidemiologist focuses on identifying the exposure or source that caused the illness; the number of other persons who may have been similarly exposed; the potential for further spread in the community; and interventions to prevent additional cases or recurrences” (CDC). The epidemiologist focuses on identifying the source to prevent further contamination of the community. The epidemiologist plans their “treatment” of the “patient” around “solving” the problem at the source instead of treating individuals. By identifying the source of the infection in the community, the epidemiologist prevents further contamination and helps to treat the community by limiting the spread of the health concern, infection, or disease (CDC, 2006). Quantifying the level of a problem involves determining the incident rates, incidence proportions, and...