Epidemiology and biostatistics

Elena M. Andresen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

8 Scopus citations


Epidemiology and biostatistics are two of the foundations of public health science and practice (Institute of Medicine, 1988). Graduate and undergraduate degrees in schools of public health all include some level of training in these basic disciplines. As an epidemiologist, I consider the training to be vital to provide future researchers and practitioners of public health the analytic reasoning and interpretation skills to (1) understand and interpret research publications, (2) plan and execute research and evaluation studies, (3) provide scientific information about causal evidence, and (4) use information about risk factors and cause to shape programs and policies. For public health practitioners who are epidemiology specialists, the training and the skill set is more complex and expansive. When teaching the complexity of analytic reasoning in epidemiology, we often search for relevant, real world examples that permit us to impart both methods and broader public health content. Disability epidemiology provides a rich opportunity on both counts. It offers intellectually stimulating examples on issues that span the disciplines of both epidemiology and biostatistics. These issues, some of which are discussed in this chapter, relate to everything from pragmatic problems in field research to theoretical frameworks about the impact of risk factors across multiple levels of personal and environmental influences. Special populations, including people with disability (PWD), also offer an opportunity to examine and grapple with the public health challenge of disparities, and through that challenge, to help the disciplines of epidemiology and biostatistics to evolve. Unfortunately, there is an uneasy and even disrespectful relationship between the disability world and the world of public health, including epidemiology, when such an interface exists at all.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPublic Health Perspectives on Disability
Subtitle of host publicationEpidemiology to Ethics and Beyond
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages40
ISBN (Print)9781441973405
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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