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November 23, 1940


Author Affiliations


From the Department of Hygiene and Preventive Medicine, State University of Iowa College of Medicine.

JAMA. 1940;115(21):1757-1760. doi:10.1001/jama.1940.02810470001001

Epidemiology has been defined by Hirsch1 as "a science which will give, firstly, a picture of the occurrence, the distribution and the types of the diseases of mankind in distinct epochs of time and at various points of the earth's surface; and, secondly, will render an account of the relations of these diseases to the external conditions surrounding the individual and determining his manner of life."

As applied to a small community, such as a general hospital, it is with this second phase that epidemiology is concerned chiefly. Among its primary objectives become the exposing of the transmission paths of disease, or the recognition of conditions which may affect adversely the health of this particular community. Although such studies ordinarily are prompted only by the occurrence of actual cases of illness, there is no necessary reason why this should be so. If the epidemiologic approach is to have preventive