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 Statistics and mathematics in medical world—Epidemiology

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Hei865
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PostSubject: Statistics and mathematics in medical world—Epidemiology   Thu Sep 07, 2006 5:37 pm

Have you even thought of the use of mathematics in the medical world? It is called the epidemiology. It is a branch of medical science that studies diseases through the use of mathematics and statistics. It includes the studying of categories of persons and the patterns of diseases from which they suffer so as to determine the events or circumstances causing diseases. If a cause is discovered, then those responsible for public health policy can take appropriate steps to prevent the disease in question and to stop the further out-break.

In the epidemiological statistics, scientists and doctors are interested to find out the mortality and morbidity, aged-adjusted rate, standard mortality ratio (SMR), incidence and prevalence, etc.

Morbidity and mortality are medical terms for sickness and death. They are usually measured as rates per thousand or ten thousand or hundred thousand population. To decide on the most appropriate form of morbidity data it helps to classify the occurrence or existence of illness in the following four ways:
(a) those beginning and ending during the study interval
(b) those beginning during the interval and still existing at the end
(c) those existing before the beginning of the interval and ending during it
(d) those existing before the start of the interval and still existing at its end.

The sum of (a) and (b) is known as the incidence. It is a measure of the number of new cases arising during the study period. It is most useful for studying diseases that are having short duration.

To study chronic or long established conditions, prevalence is used. There are 2 types of prevalence. Point prevalence is the frequency or number of cases existing at a given point of time, e.g. on a particular day. Any person from the above categories will be included in the statistics as long as they are still (and alive) during the reference period. Period prevalence is the frequency of number of cases at any time during the period of interest. It is the sum of all the categories above, namely the sum of the initial point (c) and (d) and the incidence (a) and (b).

Scientists and doctors usually undergo 2 types of studies to obtain information: retrospective and prospective studies. Retrospective study is epidemiological investigation using the pre-existing data and formation of a hypothesis to be tested. These data can be obtained from World Health Organization (WHO), local Hospital Authority or Health department, local statistics and Census Department. We have to divide the data into, at least 2 groups, study group and control groups. Then, we can apply statistical data treatment, such as SMR.

Other the other hand, prospective study is artificial epidemiological study, where studies the effect of pollutant exposed to human (clinical trials)/ animal (animal experiment) under a control environment. However, this type of study brings up ethical and moral dilemma. Also, some scientists argued that response obtained from animals experiment might not be the same as human.

In the story of SARS in HK during 2003, epidemiological study have been proven to be a effective weapon for doctors to tackle out the Community Outbreak at Amoy Garden. Causes of outbreak were confirmed by retrospective study including questionnaires of patient, contact tracing, statistically analysis, etc. At the same time, prospective study such as home visits and environmental investigation were carried out, too.

After treating the data obtained from studies with different kinds of mathematical equations, doctors are aimed to find out the aged-adjusted rate and standard mortality ratio (SMR), etc. We are more interested about ratio and rate instead of actual number of death or sickness. The reason behind this is easy to understand: actual number is not very informative and is not useful for comparison, while mortality and morbidity are normally expressed as rates, which can be easily represented the risk in population. For example, SMR is defined as the actual number of death in the exposed or study population expressed as a percentage of the (expected) number of deaths in the study population if the study population has behaved as the standard population. So, it offers a way of assessing the comparative death rates for males over all age groups, the male population or other.

Although epidemiology is very useful in medical study, there are many factors affecting the accuracy of epidemiological studies: such as the difficulties in assessing the validity of data. These may include the problems with actual wording on death certificates, accuracy of diagnosis. Besides, morbidity data from hospital records is scarcely ever complete. Other difficulties include inadequate sample size and migration of sample in the population. That’s why doctors need to take extra caution when carrying out epidemiological study.

Extracted from the IS "PIONEER". Edited by Kelvin!!!
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bobvo84
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PostSubject: nice   Sat Sep 09, 2006 12:38 pm

this is very good subject,but we don't have epidemiology in our course ma!?and this is like more statistic,and for another people to do this survey... so...just for reference hehehe....but thz bro anyway cheers
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Hung
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PostSubject: Re: Statistics and mathematics in medical world—Epidemiology   Mon Sep 18, 2006 11:23 pm

Nice topic. I think you can register a new course for our school and you can be the lecturer lol! It's pretty good anyway. clap clap clap...... cheers
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