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Geography of Disease


The descriptive study of disease distribution, or the geography of disease, was formerly popular among pathologists and is often called geographic pathology. This type of study has often revealed real differences in disease distribution among nations and in regions within nations. It is a simple way to draw attention to the disease risks associated with particular environments, but is seriously flawed if it fails to take into account the other factors (social, genetic) that can influence disease distribution. The geographic study of disease, patterns of mortality, health care, and other health-related issues is useful when it reveals unusual distributions that can be further investigated and confirmed or refuted by appropriate epidemiologic and other studies.

John M. Last

(see also: Descriptive Study; Environmental Determinants of Health; Epidemiology )

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