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November 24, 1975

Ski Injuries-Reply

JAMA. 1975;234(8):807-808. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260210015007

In Reply.—  Drs Pope and Johnson have pointed out the epidemiologic differences between descriptive studies and analytic studies, and the value of the latter over the former in defining precise relationships between causal factors and, in this instance, traumatic events. However, they fail to point out that the importance of descriptive studies is to accumulate sufficient data with which causal hypotheses may be formulated. The major benefit of descriptive epidemiology is that studies of this type are inexpensive, do not require long-term follow-up, and can be carried out in a relatively short time by very few investigators. A complete discussion of the relative benefits of descriptive epidemiology, analytic epidemiology, and experimental studies may be found in either McMahon and Pugh (The Principles of Epidemiology) or Mauser and Bahn (Epidemiology: An Introductory Text), the two basic textbooks in the field.The study carried out by Gutman, Wolf, and myself was descriptive,