What is Epidemiology?

Epidemiology: the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in specified populations, and the application of this study to the control of health problems. Simply put, it's the study of who gets sick, and why.

For a better understanding of where the word comes from, we can break it down. The word epidemiology is a Greek word -- three Greek words, actually -- epi, demos, and logos. “Epi” means upon, on or over. “Demos” means people or populace. Finally, “logos” can mean study, word, discourse, count, tell, say or speak. Logos is where the word “logic” comes from as well as the suffixes “ology” and “ologist.” So … Epidemiology is “the study of what is ‘upon’ the people,” “discourse about what is ‘upon’ the people,” or “counting what is ‘upon’ the people.”

Epidemiologists may study chronic disease, infectious disease outbreaks, intentional or unintentional injury, infant mortality, causes of mortality, demographic factors, and risk factors for any health events or conditions. For more information about tribal epidemiology, explore our site, or visit Tribal Epidemiology Centers. (external link)

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