The narrow construct of epidemiology as pertaining to epidemics has been broadened by its proper definition as the discourse or study (lógos) upon (epi) people (dēmos). Though by custom limited to the disorders to which the flesh is heir, one must also consider in this context the normal to recognize deviations therefrom. Thus epidemiology is concerned with the occurrence and course of disease within populations. It is diagnosis and prognosis of groups rather than individuals, the signs and symptoms being those features which differentiate the patient from his unaffected peer. Paul’s definition is that epidemiology is the field “concerned with measurements of the circumstances under which diseases occur, where diseases tend to flourish, and where they do not” (p. 4). In other words it is the study of the natural history of disease — including our attempts to alter the course by varied therapeutic measures. In this context epidemiology could be considered the basic science of clinical medicine.


Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Bronchogenic Carcinoma Hide Bias Context Epidemiology Epidemiologic Work 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin - Heidelberg 1969

Authors and Affiliations

  • John F. Kurtzke
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Georgetown University School of MedicineUSA
  2. 2.Neurology ServiceVeterans Administration HospitalUSA
  3. 3.National Naval Medical CenterU.S. Naval HospitalBethesdaUSA

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