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December 24, 1955

ROLE OF THE EPIDEMIOLOGIST

JAMA. 1955;159(17):1636. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960340056013
Abstract

Since the epidemiologist is concerned with disease as it affects the whole population or some special segment of it rather than as it affects the individual, his role is often not appreciated by the practitioner, whose chief but not sole concern is the individual patient. In the past epidemiologists have used their talents primarily to trace the sources of infectious diseases, but, as the relative importance of this group of diseases has decreased, the epidemiologist has found that the methods of study he has developed over the years can be applied to various kinds of accidental injury and the chronic degenerative diseases.

Morris1 has described seven distinct uses to which epidemiology can be put. Historical studies may bring to light a trend indicating either an increase or a decrease in the incidence of a disease. Such studies give important intimations of the future behavior of the disease in a

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