This chapter describes the basic principles of epidemiology, emphasizing the aspects most relevant to studies of health effects from occupational and environmental exposures. Numerous examples are provided of how epidemiology can be used to identify and quantify the relations between recent or long-term exposure and health outcomes, such as prevalence or incidence of disease, injury, or mortality. The chapter describes the common study designs, including cohort studies, case-control studies, and cross-sectional studies, with examples of their application. Key aspects of exposure assessment and characterizing and quantifying exposure, are described. The three types of bias in epidemiology, information, selection, and confounding, are defined as well as the healthy worker effect, a potential source of bias unique in occupational studies. Study designs and analytic methods that can reduce or eliminate specific types of bias are also described. Finally, the chapter provides guidance on how to interpret the results of studies, with an eye toward causal inference.
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