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CHAPTER 11 . CHAPTER 1. Descriptive Research in Physical Activity Epidemiology. Descriptive Research in Physical Activity Epidemiology. What is Epidemiology?. Epidemiology is “the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in

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Descriptive Research

in Physical Activity


Descriptive Research

in Physical Activity


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What is Epidemiology?

Epidemiology is “the study of the distribution and

determinants of health-related states or events in

specified populations, and the application of this study

to the control of health problems” (Last 1988, 141).

• Distribution

- Frequency: Prevalence, incidence, morality rate

- Patterns: Person, place, time

• Determinants: Defined characteristics associated

with change in health

• Application: Translation of knowledge to practice

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Development of Exercise


• Early studies

- Framingham Heart Study

- London Busmen/British Civil Servants

- Tecumseh Health Study

- Harvard Alumni Health Study

- Minnesota studies

• Healthy People 2010 (U.S. Department of Health

and Human Services)

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Purposes of Epidemilogic


• Quantifying the magnitude of health problems

• Identifying the factors that cause disease

• Providing quantitative guidance for the allocation

of public health resources

• Monitoring the effectiveness of prevention

strategies using population-wide surveillance


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Key Points in Exercise


• Observational versus experimental research

• Key terms in exercise epidemiology

- Distribution: Frequency and patterns

- Determinants

• Assessment of physical activity

- Direct measurements

- Questionnaires

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Epidemiologic Study Designs

• Descriptive epidemiology

- Cross-sectional designs

- Ecological designs

• Analytical designs

- Cohort studies

- Case-control studies

• Experimental designs: Randomized trials

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Design in Exercise Epidemiology

• Case-control studies: Select participants from a

group with a disorder and compare with cases

without the disorder

• Cohort studies

- Groups exposed to cause of disorder versus

those not exposed: Relative frequency of

exposure and nonexposure is known

- Sample of cohorts selected from population and

grouped into cases and noncases

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Types of Case-Control

and Cohort Designs

• Retrospective: Look back from effects to potential


• Prospective: Identify an event and follow cases

forward from that event for some period

• Cross-sectional: Measure causes and effects at a

certain point and look at relationships