What is it about?

Epidemiology is fundamentally concerned with health events that occur within human populations. From a clinical perspective, its focus is often rooted in understanding the causes of and the natural history of diseases.This article sets out to demonstrate that many nursing research studies incorporate elements of as well as largely utilize epidemiological methods and that, consequently, much nursing practice is underpinned by such studies.This situation is reflected within many orthopaedic-related nursing studies. Nevertheless, epidemiology remains a relatively underused and misunderstood branch of research within nursing practice despite the fact that it offers huge benefit to the practice of all nurses, in all settings, and impinges on many aspects of our professional lives

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Why is it important?

This account sets out to offer the reader a ‘broad’ insight into what epidemiology is, what methods it uses and when and how it might be applied to orthopaedic nursing practice.


The uses for clinical epidemiology in orthopaedic nursing practice are extremely wide and varied, with the potential to be as wide reaching as one desires it to be. Small-scale epidemiological research can just as easily be applied to local practice and health policy decision-making, as it can to Regional and National health legislated policy issues. Whether we are aware of it or not, the case remains that much of our theory and practice is underpinned by epidemiological studies. If orthopaedic nurses are to keep abreast of the research approaches that underpin practice, as well as choose to undertake research, it is essential that they are aware of epidemiology’s usefulness and realise the impact that it has already had, and will continue to have, on our profession as a whole.

Dr Dean Whitehead
Flinders University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: The role of epidemiology in orthopaedic practice, Journal of Orthopaedic Nursing, February 2000, Elsevier,
DOI: 10.1054/joon.2000.0051.
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