Types, uses and features of descriptive studies

Types of descriptive studies

  • Case series studies
  • Community diagnosis or need assessment
  • Descriptive cross-sectional studies
  • Ecological descriptive studies
  • Epidemiological description of disease occurrence  

Use of descriptive Study

  • To measure incidence
  • To measure Prevalence
  • To generate hypothesis

The essential Features of descriptive studies are:

  • To describe present or past characteristics of persons with a particular outcome or a particular exposure and/or to determine incidence or prevalence of an outcome and exposure.
  • Only one group is studied. No comparison group is used.
  • No conclusion can be made about the association between exposure and outcome. Information derived from such studies may suggest possible associations which require further study using analytical design.
  • They may be prospective or retrospective in time.
  • Description study is limited to a description of the occurrence of the diseases in a population.
  • Description studies allow the generation of hypotheses; which can be tested by analytical or experimental design of studies subsequently-WHO.
  • It is often 1st step of epidemiological investigation (WHO-Park).
  • It includes the collection, analysis&interpretation of data. Both qualitative & quantitative tech may be used including questionnaires, interviews, observation of participants, service statistics & documents –WHO

This study involves the following three questions:-

  • Where the disease occurs? – Place distribution.
  • When it occurs? –Time distribution.
  • Who are being affected? – Person distribution.

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