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Gaceta Sanitaria

Print version ISSN 0213-9111


SEGURA DEL POZO, Javier. Field epidemiology and social epidemiology. Gac Sanit [online]. 2006, vol.20, n.2, pp.153-158. ISSN 0213-9111.

Comparing field epidemiology and social epidemiology, we pretend to think about the no explicit images and meanings operating in both necessary convergent fields, about the obstacles present in epidemiological practice to fulfil its social function and about the necessity of changing epistemological, methodological and practice grounds, beginning with field epidemiologists teaching programmes. Field epidemiology would tend to act in an absent theoretical frame. On the other hand, social epidemiology would tend to prioritize theoretical developments (thinking and research about social determinants) without correspondent action, because of the limits to change public policies. Other differences are found at intervention level (micro-macrospace), its aim (outbreak control vs. inequalities control) and the way to communicate with society. They are similar in the methodological concern, the predominance of orientation based on positivism and framed through statistic methods, but in process of epistemological opening, the stress experienced between the alternative relationship to a virtual world of data bases or to the real society, their peripherical situation in relation of the political, social, institutional and professional system and the tendency to professional frustration. Finally, we ask ten questions to the field epidemiologists related with their present practice, in order to consider if they are developing social epidemiology, and propose some changes in epidemiologist teaching and practice.

Keywords : Epidemiology; Philosophy of science; Social science; Training.

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