A Day in the Life of an Epidemiologist

doi:10.1136/jech.2007.066290 2008;62;479- J. Epidemiol. Community Health   Juan B Bellido-Blasco   endemiologist) A day in the life of a local epidemiologist (and Updated information and services can be found at: These include: References This article cites 3 articles, 1 of which can be accessed free at: Rapid responses You can r
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  doi:10.1136/jech.2007.066290 2008;62;479- J. Epidemiol. Community Health   Juan B Bellido-Blasco endemiologist)A day in the life of a local epidemiologist (and Updated information and services can be found at: These include:    References This article cites 3 articles, 1 of which can be accessed free at: Rapid responses You can respond to this article at: serviceEmail alerting the top right corner of the article Receive free email alerts when new articles cite this article - sign up in the box at  Notes To order reprints of this article go to:  go to: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health  To subscribe to on 15 May 2008  jech.bmj.comDownloaded from   24.  Harnett R,  Thom B, Herring R,  et al  . Alcohol in transition: towards a model of youngmen’s drinking styles.  Journal of Youth Studies  2000; 3 :61–7.25.  Richardson A,  Budd T.  Alcohol, crime and disorder: a study of young adults . HomeOffice Research Study 263. Home Office Research, Development and StatisticsDirectorate February 2003. 9th Feb 2007).26.  WHO.  Global status report on alcohol 2004. Geneva: World Health Organization, 2004.27.  Coleman L,  Cater S. Changing the culture of young people’s binge drinking: Frommotivations to practical solutions.  Drugs: education, prevention and policy  2007; 14 :305–17.28.  McMahon J,  McAlaney J, Edgar F. Binge drinking behaviour, attitudes and beliefs ina UK community sample: an analysis by gender, age and deprivation.  Drugs:education, prevention and policy   2007; 14 :289–303.29.  Cabinet Office .  The alcohol harm reduction strategy for England  . London: TheCabinet Office, 2004.30.  HM Government . Safe. Sensible. Social. The next steps in the National AlcoholStrategy. London: Department of Health, 2007.31.  Kolvin P.  Licensed premises: law and practice . Haywards Heath, UK: Totttel, 2005.32.  Mullen K,  Watson J, Swift J,  et al  . Young men, masculinity and drugs.  Drugs:education, prevention and policy   2007; 14 :151–65. A day in the life of a localepidemiologist (and endemiologist) D E Lilienfeld has recently argued in favour of the need to putnew emphasis on the training of general epidemiologists. 1 In thepast, it was believed that epidemiology was a branch of medicine. 2 In Spain, however, epidemiology as an officialspeciality simply does not exist although, curiously enough,there are epidemiologists and some very good ones. According to my credentials, I am a doctor who is specialisedin preventive medicine and public health. This is not preciseenough. It is a speciality diluted by itself. Having said that, Ihave been working for many years in the epidemiology department of a local public health centre and, little by little,I have come to the conclusion that I really am an epidemiologistor something very like one. I must confess that I have alwaysliked the idea that I am a (modest) epidemiologist. When I say this at home, everyone in my family seems happy. My daughters like it.  ‘‘ My Dad ’ s an epidemiologist! ’’ , they tell theirfriends proudly.  ‘‘  And what do you do when there are noepidemics ? ’’ , they ask me.  ‘‘  Well, actually, I ’ m also anendemiologist ’’ , I reply in an effort to avoid this awkwardquestion.So, as you can guess, I was very pleased to read the articlequoted above. 1 The general epidemiologist is becoming moreimportant! I hope I am one of them. But perhaps there are somefurther details to be added.Traditionally, our work, and that of the regional epidemiol-ogist, 3 has been related exclusively to infectious diseases andsmall outbreaks. It is not like that now. A local epidemiologisthas increasingly to attend to a wider range of situations withspecial emphasis on environmental questions and  ‘‘ clusters ’’  of any kind of illness. Fortunately, in the age of information, anepidemiologist enjoys instant communication with fellowprofessionals all over the world. Perhaps the following featuresbest characterise the current work of the local epidemiologist: adoctor with special knowledge of field epidemiology; directcontact with people; the capacity to respond quickly; a widevariety of matters to be attended to; the need to resolve many of these matters with limited resources; local initiative and thepossibilities for research and data collection with initiative andimagination.It may be gathered from the above that one day  ’ s work may be very different from another. Even one day  ’ s work may bevaried, surprising and entertaining. I have the habit of recordingin a diary the most noteworthy incidents of each day  ’ s work.Perhaps one day I will be able to tell you about some of thethings I have recorded. I can assure you that there are somestories worth telling. In the meantime, let us remember theproper training for the local (peripheral) epidemiologist and notundervalue his work. Juan B Bellido-Blasco Correspondence to:  Dr J B Bellido-Blasco, Epidemiology Unit, Centre of PublicHealth, Avenida del Mar 12, Castello ´ n, Spain, 12100; Acknowledgements:  I would like to thank Charles Stedman who kindly translatedthe srcinal Spanish text. Competing interests:  None.  J Epidemiol Community Health  2008; 62 :479. doi:10.1136/jech.2007.066290 REFERENCES 1.  Lilienfeld DE.  The general epidemiologist: is there a place in today ’ s epidemiology?  Am J Epidemiol   2007; 166 :1 – 4.2.  Tuyns AJ,  Sohier R. Principles and definitions in epidemiology.  Rev Epidemiol Sante ´  Publique  1981; 29 :75 – 83.3.  Lewis DA.  The role of the regional epidemiologist.  CME Bull Med Microbiol  1999; 3 :15 – 17. Speakers ’  corner Public health past and present  J Epidemiol Community Health  June 2008 Vol 62 No 6 479  on 15 May 2008  jech.bmj.comDownloaded from 
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