Experimental epidemiology is a type of epidemiological investigation that uses an experimental model to confirm a causal relationship suggested by observational studies. It studies the relationships of various factors determining the frequency and distribution of diseases in a community.
There are three case types in experimental epidemiology: randomized controlled trial, typically used for new medicine or drug testing; field trial, which is conducted on those at high risk of contracting a disease; and community trial, in which research is conducted on an entire community or neighborhood. Randomized controlled trial determines the efficacy of a particular treatment, while other trials may be preventive intervention.
Experimental epidemiology employs prospective population experiments designed to test epidemiological hypotheses, and usually attempts to relate the postulated cause to the observed effect. Trials of new anthelmintics are an example. Intervention or experimentation involves attempting to change a variable in one or more groups of people. This could mean eliminating a dietary factor thought to cause allergy, or testing a new treatment on a selected group of patients. The effects of an intervention are measured by comparing the result in the experimental group with that in a control group.
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