Epidemiology is a tributary of medicine that deals with cause, distribution, and control of disease in a particular population at a given time (Conference Series LLC Ltd, 2019). Therefore, descriptive epidemiology focuses on identifying and reporting both the pattern and frequency of health events in a population (Naito, 2014). The descriptive epidemiology consists of three major pillars; person, time, and place. The person characteristic involves sociodemographic tactical such as age, occupation, marital status, susceptibility, or race. Place include geographic location, population density, and geopolitical location. For example, in the event of a disease occurrence, there is the importance of analyzing the political, social, and economic or health service environment (Pearce, 2012). This is a reflection of the rate/frequency of exposure, utilization, access, or effectiveness of the faculty present at a particular demographical area. Time characteristic includes redundant transition; different time range during an epidemic (Conference Series LLC Ltd, 2019).
Role and relation of descriptive epidemiology in nurse science
Descriptive epidemiology helps nurses search for trends by auditing traits of time, person, and place. The gathered data ease understanding and evaluation of health trends in the human population to provide basic ideas about the causation of the outbreak (Aggarwal & Ranganathan, 2019). The characteristic of person, place, and time helps to develop a hypothesis used to conduct surveillance on the disease in question-based on similarities, differences, and correlation. For example, an incidence of diabetes and obesity among pregnant mothers in the US and developing countries such as Rwanda, there may be an assessment of the substantial difference in elements like diet and demographics, which may perhaps be related to diabetes and obesity. It may pose questions like; does a poor diet makes an individual susceptible to diabetes and obesity? How social status is related to diabetes and obesity?.
The assessment of the character of the place, time, and the person is done not only to help the nurses to come up with clues of the causation but also to find the possible solution of how to solve the disease or outbreak in question. Additionally, this has help nurses to determine the necessary treatment that an individual under attack is supposed to get. For example, if the outbreak is based on the seasonal variation that is on specific occasions. For instance, seasonal infections may be ignited by facts like immigration, school year, or military development. For such cases, the health facilitators may recommend vaccination, anti-inflammatory, or even immunization. Therefore, descriptive epidemiology contributes to the prevention of disease (Conference Series LLC Ltd, 2019).
Descriptive epidemiology also aids in nursing studies by highlighting the measures necessary to control the disease. For instance, the incidence of cholera outbreak between two countries, such as Kenya and Nigeria, can be studied to support control or intervention. The frequency may vary depending on the factors related to the cholera causation-diet and social class. Access to the health facility and utilization of its sources may also be substantial factors that led the disease severity as seen in a study conducted to evaluate magnitude, pattern, as well as, the trend of a cholera outbreak that took place in Kaduna State in 2014 (Sule et al., 2017). For instance, the rural area is prone to suffer from cholera due to the poor hygiene environment compared to the urban areas. Descriptive epidemiology will intervene by assessing the place characteristic and coming up with possible solutions to control the disease so that the number of cases being reported at the health facilities can be managed. For example, improvising of health facilities and addressing how to handle patients who are a victim of the infection. This is counted as a control measure.
In addition, descriptive epidemiology aids in providing information on the burden of the illness. For instance, the nurses can conduct surveillance, which will involve finding the prevalence of uterine fibroids in women, which is one of the significant health complications associated with pregnancy (Sohn et al., 2018). As a researcher, the nurse can assess the women from different ages, ethnicities, geographical locations, and social backgrounds to determine if women of a particular age, ethnicity, or geographic location are prone to uterine fibroids than others (Pearce, 2012). By assessing the number of cases in different demographics, the information can be obtained to determine the frequency of a particular place and the initiative to be taken to control and prevent the disease. This may also help in creating strategies necessary to avoid future conditions for both the inter and intra-generation (Conference Series LLC Ltd, 2019). The identification of new outbreaks may also be determined by descriptive epidemiology. Overall, descriptive epidemiology plays a significant role in the prevention, definition, and control of disease, which is part of nurse studies.
Application of descriptive epidemiology in applied public health nursing
The primary aim of a descriptive epidemiological study is to acquire the answer to; What is the frequency with the disease occur? (Conference Series LLC Ltd, 2019). For a nurse concerned with public health, the nurse will have to access the people who acquired the disease that is the number of cases reported over a certain period and perhaps the size of the unaffected population. As we can see, the three pillars of descriptive epidemiology; time, place, and person. This entire process is referred to as disease surveillance. Most often, current knowledge is used to define the occurrence of a particular disease (Naito, 2014). However, changes may be applied to the definition when the cause of the disease is a portrait, or new diagnostic tests are prefaced.
For example, in 1982, the CDC created an embryonic related simple surveillance for AIDS in an attempt to define the condition, but no conclusive definition (Curran & Jaffe, 2011). The explanation was not very clear and only describes the presence of diseases moderately indicative of the presence of cellular immunodeficiency in an individual without recognized cause (Wong & Chan, 2019). Later, a more specific definition became possible once the causative agent, HIV, was pinpoint and test for the discern of antibodies to the virus were developed. In 1987, the definition was expanded to incorporate clinical conditions that are indicative of AIDS (Wong & Chan, 2019). An amendment of the definition was done that attributes to AIDS. That is precedent pneumonia, pulmonary tuberculosis, or invasive cervical cancer. This led to the initiative of integration monitoring for both HIV and AIDS. However, the presence of severely depressed CD4 T lymphocyte count also attributes to AIDS. Therefore, the causation of AIDS was defined partially based on person characteristic (Wong & Chan, 2019). For instance, immunity where the lower the CD4 T lymphocytes count, the higher the chances of an individual to be susceptible to AIDS (Birmann et al., 2016).
Components used to analyze at-risk populations
Definition of the population at risk is essential to step in the control and prevention of disease since it aids in strategizing the necessary initiative for clinical improvising. The first component is the incidence. The incidence refers to the number of individuals in a defined population who develop a disease or health complication for the first time during a defined period in time (Aggarwal & Ranganathan, 2019). In determining at-risk population, the cumulative incidence and the incidence rate are determined to give incidence density. The second component is prevalence, which refers to how frequently a specific disease, health condition, or a particular risk factor is associated with a given a population at the defined point in time (Aggarwal & Ranganathan, 2019).
Overall, descriptive epidemiology has a crucial role in the medicine field. Therefore, it needs to be inclusive in nursing science. However, it should be noted that descriptive epidemiology intensely relies on the availability of resources and data for proper improvising of solutions for a positive effect.
Naito, M. (2014). Utilization and application of public health data in descriptive epidemiology. Journal of Epidemiology, 24(6), 435–436. DOI:10.2188/jea.je20140182.
Aggarwal, R., & Ranganathan, P. (2019). Study designs: Part 2 – Descriptive studies. Perspectives in Clinical Research, 10, 1.
Sohn, G. S., Cho, S., Kim, Y. M., Cho, C. H., Kim, M. R., Lee, S. R., & Working Group of Society of Uterine Leiomyoma. (2018). Current medical treatment of uterine fibroids. Obstetrics & Gynecology Science, 61, 2, 192-201.
Pearce, N. (2012). Classification of epidemiological study designs. International Journal of Epidemiology, 41, 2, 393-397.
Sule, I. B., Yahaya, M., Ummulkhulthum, B., Nguku, P., Sule, I. B., Zainab, A. D., Yahaya, M., … Aisha, A. A. (2017). Descriptive epidemiology of a cholera outbreak in Kaduna state, northwest Nigeria, 2014. Pan African Medical Journal, 27.
Conference Series LLC Ltd. (2019). 2nd International Conference on Community Nursing and Public Health. Retrieved on 30th October 2019 from https://community.nursingconference.com/events-list/epidemiology-nursing-and-impact-on-public-health.
Birmann, B. M., Bao, Y., Crous-Bou, M., De, V. I., Tworoger, S. S., Barnard, M. E., Bertrand, K. A., … Wolpin, B. M. (2016). Nurses’ health study contributions on the epidemiology of less common cancers: Endometrial, ovarian, pancreatic, and hematologic. American Journal of Public Health, 106, 9, 1608-1615.
Curran, J.W & Jaffe, H.W. (2011). AIDS: the Early Years and CDC’s Response. Supplements October 7, 2011 / 60(04);64-69. Retrieved on 30th October 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/su6004a11.htm.
Wong, K. & Chan, K. (2019). The basics of HIV medicine. Staging, classification, and monitoring of HIV/AIDS. Retrieved on 30th October 2019 from https://www.aids.gov.hk/pdf/g190htm/04.htm