A Short Introduction to Epidemiology
by Neil Pierce
Edition: 2nd., 2005
Public health is primarily concerned with the prevention of disease in human population. It differs from clinical medicine both in its emphasis on prevention rather than treatment, and in its focus on populations rather than individual patients (table 1.1). Epidemiology is the branch of public health which attempts to discover the causes of disease in order to make disease prevention possible. Epidemiological methods can be used in other contexts (particularly in clinical research), but this short introductory text focuses on the use of epidemiology in public health, i.e. on its use as part of the wider process of discovering the causes of disease and preventing its occurrence in human populations.