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Genetic Techniques in Public Health

Applied Research

Public-health assessment relies on scientific approaches such as surveillance and epidemiology to assess the impact of discovered gene variants on the health of communities. Surveillance, which involves the systematic gathering, analysis, and dissemination of population data, is needed to determine population frequencies of genetic variants that predispose people to specific diseases. This information can be used to assess the population morbidity and mortality associated with such diseases. Surveillance can also be used to determine the prevalence and effect of environmental factors known to interact with given genotypes. Additionally, surveillance can aid in the evaluation of a genetic test in terms of its safety, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness.

Another example where surveillance can come into play in public health genetics is with infectious diseases and DNA fingerprinting. The ability to characterize pathogenic organisms phenotypically and genotypically can be a powerful approach that provides information important for an antimicrobial surveillance program. It also is a means of providing information that may be useful for understanding pathogenic microorganisms worldwide. With such a program in place, the clonal spread of multiresistant pathogens among patients can be identified.

Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events in populations and is used to investigate risk factors for various diseases and identify high-risk populations. Epidemiological information can be used to target populations that could benefit most from prevention and intervention actions. Epidemiology is also a tool for evaluating the effect of health programs and services on a population's health. Population-based epidemiological studies are increasingly needed to quantify the impact of gene variants on the risk of disease, death, and disability, and to identify and quantify the impact of modifiable risk factors that interact with gene variants.

Additional topics

Medicine EncyclopediaGenetics in Medicine - Part 3Genetic Techniques in Public Health - Public Health Approaches In Genetics, Applied Research, Evaluation Of Genetic Information And Tests, Development, Implementation, And Evaluation Of Population Interventions