Epidemiological research methods. Part V. Follow-up studies
Follow-up studies (also called prospective or cohort studies) are used to determine the natural history of disease, to evaluate the role of risk factors in causation or association, to determine the prognosis of patients with existing disease, and to evaluate the role of drugs and other interventions in preventing disease or further complications. In follow-up studies sampling is prospective, because individuals are· followed up to see whether they develop the outcome of interest. These studies have become increasingly important in recent decades with the epidemiological transition that has paralleled population development from a high incidence of acute infectious diseases to a high ipcidence of chronic, non-infectious diseases in ageing populations.
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