Descriptive Epidemiology

HIV/AIDS was first recognized as an epidemic in the United States in 1981. At the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, the life expectancy for infected persons was less than 7 years. Today, because of research and new treatment options, people who begin treatment soon after diagnosis can expect to live a nearly normal life span (Cairns, 2010). The HIV/AIDS epidemic was identified through descriptive epidemiology.

Descriptive epidemiologic studies are often conducted as precursors to analytic studies. Epidemiologic concepts are used to gather data to better understand and evaluate health trends in populations. Data such as characteristics of the persons affected, place where an incident occurred, and time of occurrence are collected and analyzed to look for patterns in an effort to identify emerging health problems. In this Discussion, you will apply the epidemiologic concepts of time, place, and person to a specific population health problem.

To prepare:

Consider a variety of population health problems, and then select one on which to focus for this Discussion.
Identify a specific population affected by your selected health problem.
Research the patterns of the disease in your selected population using the epidemiologic characteristics of person, place, and time.
Explore three to five data sources presented in the Learning Resources that could aid you in describing the population and magnitude of the problem. Analyze the strengths and limitations of each data source.
Consider methods for obtaining raw data to determine the variables of person, place, and time for your health problem. Ask yourself: How would the methods I select influence the accuracy of case identification, definition, and diagnosis?
Write a one page cohesive response that addresses the following:

Evaluate your selected health problem in the population you identified by describing three to five characteristics related to person, place, and time.
Appraise the data sources you utilized by outlining the strengths and limitations of each.
Discuss two methods you could use to collect raw data to determine the descriptive epidemiology of your health problem, Determine how these methods would influence the completeness of case identification as well as the case definition/diagnostic criteria used.