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The potential impact of epidemiology on the prevention of occupational disease.

This presentation reviews occupational epidemiology as a foundation for workplace disease prevention activities. By examining descriptive, etiologic and intervention occupational epidemiology studies, a range of opportunities are illustrated where epidemiology has played, or could play a principal role in guiding preventive efforts. Descriptive studies presented include ones based on vital records, on epidemic investigations, cross-sectional surveys, and surveillance. Etiologic studies review the largely successful development of knowledge for lung cancer and asbestos exposure for pulmonary effects of isocyanate exposures. However, attention is also directed to the need for etiologic studies of work environment risks for both cardiovascular and musculoskeletal disease. Finally importance is placed on the too infrequent epidemiologic studies of intervention. Historical examples of control of large risks from nickel cancers and silicosis are balanced with more recent examples of successes at reducing smaller risks of cardiovascular disease and oil acne. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the importance of reintegrating the academic discipline of epidemiology into the application of study findings to prevention of workplace risks.[1]


  1. The potential impact of epidemiology on the prevention of occupational disease. Wegman, D.H. American journal of public health. (1992) [Pubmed]
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