Descriptive studies include the collection of data, analysis and dissemination of findings on disease incidence (new cases), prevalence, morbidity, survival and mortality. Analytic studies include case-control studies that compare individuals who have a disease with those who don't regarding their exposure to some potentially hazardous agent, and cohort studies, in which the disease experience of individuals exposed to an agent is compared with that of an unexposed population. Experimental epidemiology is restricted to the conduct of clinical trials.
Graduate school programs in epidemiology are offered at 10 Canadian universities: the universities of Alberta, Manitoba, British Columbia, Western Ontario, Toronto and Ottawa, and McGill University, Queen's University, Dalhousie University and McMaster University. Only two, McGill University and the University of Toronto, have long-standing PhD programs; other schools offer Master's degrees. Epidemiology programs are usually located within schools of Public Health or Community Medicine, and are often associated with biostatistics programs. Although there are no undergraduate programs in epidemiology, courses are offered as part of some undergraduate health sciences programs. Graduate students in epidemiology typically have an educational background in biology, statistics, medicine, nursing or social sciences.
Epidemiologic research is conducted by universities, governments and private industry. Federal and provincial governments (including provincial cancer agencies) are involved in disease surveillance and risk factor identification, whereas local health departments typically focus on disease surveillance and health promotion. The pharmaceutical industry conducts clinical trials to test the effectiveness of new therapeutic agents.
Until the 1960s most epidemiologic research focused on infectious disease outbreaks. The increasing importance of chronic diseases, coupled with methodologic advances, has led to a substantial increase in epidemiologic studies of chronic diseases such as CANCER and HEART DISEASE. These studies have highlighted the importance of lifestyle factors such as cigarette smoking and diet in the etiology of these diseases. The advent of AIDS and the resurgence of "old" diseases such as TUBERCULOSIS has resulted in a renewed interest in infectious disease epidemiology.
Author HOWARD MORRISON
Links to Other Sites
The website for Health Canada. This section contains an overview of Health Canada and provides you points of entry to many Health Canada-specific related topics.
The website for the INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier research centre, a leading-edge health-related research organization in Québec. Check out “Research Areas” for an overview of the Centre’s multidisciplinary programs and facilities, profiles of key personnel, and opportunities for graduate study. See also the “Canadian Irradiation Centre” and the link to colourful online exhibits at the “Armand-Frappier Museum.”
The fightflu.ca website provides one-stop access to online information and resources about influenza (flu). From the Government of Canada in collaboration with provincial and territorial governments.
Canadian Bioethics Society
The website for the Canadian Bioethics Society, an organization concerned with ethical issues relating to human life and health, biology, and the environment. Click on "Bioethics Community" to access their blog and other online resources.
Public Health Agency of Canada
Check this site for the latest news about current health issues. Covers chronic disease prevention, public health emergencies, infectious disease outbreaks, and other topics related to health hazards.