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Epidemiological bases of ecological studies

, : Epidemiological bases of ecological studies. Revista de Sanidad e Higiene Publica 40(3-4): 237-250

A comparative analysis is made on the advantages and drawbacks of Ecologic Studies, where the unit of analysis is the group, against observational studies (cohort and case-control studies) and experimental studies where, unit of analysis is the individual, underlying the aims of Ecologic Studies: to provide etiologic hypothesis, to verify them and to evaluate the effectiveness of health programs. Several designs of Ecologic Studies are reviewed: descriptive or exploratory studied, seasonal trends analysis, comparative analysis among several groups, simple ecologic correlation studies and studies of trends or time series. Generally, the risk of Ecological Fallacy is increased in Ecologic Studies where the aim is etiologic research, conversely, Ecologic Studies, where the objective is evaluation of health programs, are a very useful and suggestive tool for health planning.

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