Cross Sectional Studies provide a snapshot of the frequency of a disease or other health related characteristics in a population at a given point in time. This methodology can be used to assess the burden of disease or health needs of a population, for example, and is therefore particularly useful in informing the planning and allocation of health resources.
In a cross-sectional study, data is collected on the whole study population at a single point in time to examine the relationship between disease (or other health related state) and other variables.
1. Cross sectional studies measure the exposure and the outcome at the same time.
2. Cross sectional studies estimate the prevalence of a disease or condition.
3. Cross sectional studies cannot establish a temporal relationship between the exposure and the outcome.
Cross Sectional Study Types:
Analytical cross sectional studies use data on the prevalence of both exposure and health outcome. The data is obtained for the purpose of comparing health outcome differences between exposed and unexposed. Analytical studies attempt to describe the prevalence of, (For example disease or non-disease by first beginning with a population base.)
Descriptive cross-sectional studies characterize the prevalence of a health outcome in a specified population. Prevalence can be assessed at either one point in time (point prevalence) or over a defined period of time ( period prevalence). Period prevalence is required when it takes time to accumulate sufficient information on a disease in a population, i.e. what proportion of people cared for by a public health clinic over a year have hypertension. These prevalence measures are commonly used in public health.
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