Applications of Observational Epidemiologic Studies in Equine Medicine
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Observational epidemiologic studies are commonly encountered as a source of clinical evidence in equine veterinary medicine and offer many advantages over experimental studies. First, naturally-occurring cases of disease are studied in epidemiological investigations, with results directly applicable to similar cases encountered by veterinarians. Second, these studies are desirable from a welfare standpoint in that only natural disease is studied: disease need not be induced experimentally for epidemiological studies. Finally, for many equine diseases, improved methods of control and prevention of disease have a greater impact on the burden of disease than the treatment of individuals. Thus, understanding the epidemiology of a disease is essential for improving health. The first objective of this dissertation is to provide readers with an understanding of the design, strengths, and limitations of observational epidemiological studies so that readers may be able to effectively and appropriately critique and interpret the conclusions of these studies. For illustrative purposes, examples will be drawn for two important equine diseases, viz., Rhodococcus equi pneumonia and laminitis. The following chapters will provide the methods and results of two observational studies including a cohort study of Rhodococcus equi pneumonia in foals on a single breeding farm in Texas and a case- control study of pasture- and endocrinopathy-associated laminitis in horses. The final chapter will describe limitations and obstacles encountered in the design, conduct, and analysis of these two studies as well as the future direction of research into these clinically important diseases.
Coleman, Michelle Capri (2016). Applications of Observational Epidemiologic Studies in Equine Medicine. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from