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Identify and describe the basic epidemiological variables: agent, person, place, and time

Two fundamental assumptions in all epidemiological investigations

Health states do not occur randomly in a population;
Human disease has causal and preventive factors.


One of four elements in epidemiology. An element of force that, under proper conditions (presence or absence), can initiate or perpetuate a health problem.

Five types of agents

Chemical, physical, infectious, nutritional, and social/psychological


One of four elements in epidemiology. An element which relationship of various characteristics of individuals to the health of the population.

Four types of person

Genetic(race, gender), Biologic (age, nutritional state), Behavioral (religion, habits), Sociodemographic and socioeconomic (marital status, level of education)


One of four elements in epidemiology. This can be on a global scale or any other geographic area.

Five types of Place

Climate, population density, terrain, ecology, and political boundaries.


One of four elements in epidemiology. 1) short-term, measured in hours, days, weeks, or months; 2) periodic, including seasonal or cyclic, or 3) long term, extending over decades.
Concern about Time also includes the natural history of disease. This includes incubation periods, length of symptomatology, length of epidemics etc.

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