In the most basic classification of epidemiological study designs, two major fields are to be distinguished: descriptive epidemiology and analytical epidemiology. Occasionally, a third category—experimental or interventional epidemiology—is added to this list. A common feature of all these studies is that they focus on populations rather than on individuals, cells or molecules. Figure 13.1 illustrates how descriptive, analytical and experimental epidemiology are interrelated and how observational studies contribute to the development of public health interventions.
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