The Healthy People 2020 initiative is a comprehensive set of objectives and guidelines designed to improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities in the United States. These objectives cover a wide range of health topics, from reducing chronic diseases to promoting mental health and preventing injuries. Epidemiologic methods play a crucial role in evaluating and monitoring the progress of the Healthy People 2020 objectives.
Epidemiology is the study of patterns, causes, and effects of health-related events in populations. Epidemiologic methods are used to gather data, analyze trends, assess risk factors, and evaluate the impact of interventions in public health. These methods provide the evidence base for designing and implementing strategies to achieve the objectives set by Healthy People 2020.
One example of how epidemiologic methods are used to evaluate Healthy People 2020 objectives is in the area of reducing tobacco use. Tobacco use is a major preventable cause of disease and death in the United States, and achieving the Healthy People 2020 objective of reducing tobacco use is a priority.
A descriptive study can be conducted to assess the prevalence of tobacco use in a specific population. This study’s primary goal is to measure the extent of tobacco use and determine its distribution among different demographic groups. The design type used in this study would fall under the category of a cross-sectional study, where data is collected at a single point in time.
The analytic component of this study can involve examining the association between tobacco use and various factors such as age, gender, and socioeconomic status. For example, the study may investigate whether there are differences in tobacco use prevalence between different age groups or income levels. Analytic methods, such as logistic regression, can be used to determine the contribution of these factors to tobacco use.
One advantage of a descriptive study design, such as a cross-sectional study, is that it allows for the examination of multiple variables simultaneously. This can provide a broad overview of the relationship between tobacco use and various demographic factors. Additionally, cross-sectional studies are relatively quick and cost-effective compared to longitudinal studies, which follow participants over time.
However, one disadvantage of a cross-sectional design is that it cannot establish causality. It can only identify associations between variables at the same point in time, but it does not provide information about the temporal sequence of events. For example, in a cross-sectional study, it is not possible to determine whether smoking leads to lower socioeconomic status or if lower socioeconomic status leads to higher rates of smoking.
In an actual study conducted by researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the prevalence of cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use was assessed among different demographic groups in the United States. The study used data from the National Health Interview Survey and analyzed the association between tobacco use and factors such as age, race/ethnicity, and education level. The researchers found that cigarette smoking prevalence varied significantly across demographic groups, with higher rates observed among males, younger adults, and those with lower education levels.
Overall, epidemiologic methods are essential for evaluating the objectives of Healthy People 2020. Through the use of descriptive and analytic study designs, epidemiologists can assess the prevalence of health-related behaviors and risk factors, identify disparities in health outcomes, and monitor progress towards achieving the objectives. These methods provide critical information for targeting interventions and designing strategies to improve the health and well-being of communities.