Measuring and describing disease

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[A] Discussion Topic 1: Measuring and Describing Disease
This Discussion poses two simple questions, but does not have two simple answers.

  1. How do we measure disease?
  2. How do we describe disease?
    Provide examples to highlight your points.
    Your initial response to each topic should be at least 200

Measuring and describing disease

Measuring a disease is the best means used to prevent a disease from spreading and cure
infected group of people. There are numerous ways by which the occurrence of a disease can be
measured. Differences in the time of the disease start can be used to distinguish the frequently
used measures of incidences and prevalence. On the other hand, prevalence counts both existing
and new cases of the disease (Kanner & Schachter, 2008).
Typical outcomes for an epidemiological study, also known as the D’s of Epidemiology,
are as follows:
Results of Epidemiology:
 Destitution- Unemployment, poverty
 Death
 Discontent- Emotional response such as sadness and anger
 Discomfort- signs like itching, pain, among others
 Disease/Illness- Physical symptoms, laboratory aberrations
 Disability- impaired ability to do common activities
Death and disease are the most commonly used in the measure of a disease (Kanner &
Schachter, 2008). There are five types of epidemiological measures of a disease including:

Count- it refers to the number of people who attain the case definition. For example, in 2005,
there were 9188 cases of invasive colorectal cancer in Pennsylvania according to PA Cancer
Registry data (Joint Commission Resources, Inc., 2008). Calculating the degree of disease
occurrence with a count is simple and helpful in functions such as allocation of health resources.
Proportion- A/(A+B); a fraction in which the numerator (A) consists only of people who meet
the case description while the denominator totals the number of people who meet the case
description addition to those in the study population who do not attain the case description are at
risk (Joint Commission Resources, Inc., 2008). A proportion does not rely on time because
proportion can be expressed as a percentage or fraction.
Ration- A/B; a unique fraction in which the numerator comprise of only people who meet one
criterion a lone whereas the denominator comprises of only people within study population who
attain another criterion. A ratio does not rely on time. This is because a ratio has a measure of
disease frequency, in special circumstances. One case of colon cancer for every one case of
breast cancer is a good example (Joint Commission Resources, Inc, 2008).
Rate- this is where a fraction in which the numerator comprises of only people who attain the
case description whereas the denominator comprises of people in the study population who do or
do not attain the case description although could attain the case description. A rate is dependent
upon time. For example, in 2000, there were 44 cases of colon cancer for every 100,000
population in Pennsylvania (Kanner & Schachter, 2008).
Risk- this is the possibility of a person attaining the case description- individual-tine rate. Risk
depends on time. For example, 0.00044 colon cancer cases per individual-year, classically
obtained from a cohort study through which every at-risk individual is followed over time until
when he/she is no longer at risk (Joint Commission Resources, Inc., 2008).

Currently, there are numerous diseases across the world. In order to cure or prevent a
disease, health care providers always recommend that a doctor describe a disease. Doctors and
nurses can describe a disease through many ways (Balch, Der & Hall, 2008). The following
features are used to describe a disease:
Sign- this refers to an objective evidence of a disease like fever. This implies that patients can
assess and measure the sign (Balch, Der & Hall, 2008).
Symptom- refers to subjective evidence of an illness including pain or headache. This implies
that it can be measured or assed by the patient alone.
Syndrome- refers to a set of the symptoms and signs, which happen together as part of a certain
disease process.
Diagnosis- this is the identification of an illness. The process of reaching a diagnosis is called
diagnose (Balch, Der & Hall, 2008).
Differential diagnosis aka- rule out (R/O) – it refers to an effort to determine which one of many
illnesses can be generating the signs and symptoms that are available.
Acute condition- this refers to a disease, which has a fast beginning, and a very short period.
Chronic condition- this is a disease of long duration. Most chronic illnesses cannot be cured
although they can be controlled (Balch, Der & Hall, 2008).
The factors above are key features used in description of a disease. Hence, we can only
describe a disease based on those factors. For instance, high body temperature, vomiting and
fever are the description of malaria.



Balch, W. E., Der, C. J., & Hall, A. (2008). Small GTPases in disease: Part A. Amsterdam,
Netherlands: Elsevier Academic Press.
Joint Commission Resources, Inc. (2008). Disease-specific care certification manual: DSC.
Oakbrook Terrace, Ill: Joint Commission Resources.
Kanner, A. M., & Schachter, S. C. (2008). Psychiatric controversies in epilepsy. Amsterdam:
Elsevier/Academic Press.