Part I


Welcome to this book which has been written with you (the student) in mind. I hope this becomes a useful tool for you to get a grasp to understand the field of epidemiology.

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‘Open book’, image from Wikimedia Open Clip Art Library, Public Domain.

For whom is this book for? Most books about epidemiology are written for graduate students but this book is especially designed for undergraduates, who are taking an introductory course in epidemiology, and especially for those students who want to know more about epidemiology. But not because it is directed mainly to undergraduates and not to graduate students the course has less rigour and quality, it is because the concepts are introduced, and presented in an easier and simplified form, so, the study of epidemiology becomes less intimidating. While teaching epidemiology for several years, I have found that some students don’t choose epidemiology as a career because the content seems too complicated, presenting the content in a practical manner, and simpler (although some epidemiological concepts are very complex); should motivate students to learn about this subject matter.

Main purpose of this textbook

The main purpose of this textbook is to introduce students to the field of epidemiology, especially for those student who may choose epidemiology as a career.

Why did I feel the need to write this book?
This book is written in response to the need to free open access resources that allow students to learn more about a subject area, in this case, epidemiology. A textbook is a must for an epidemiology class but I have several students who don’t have the financial resources to buy a textbook. It is accepted that having a textbook to do the readings is a tremendous help for a successful outcome in a college course.  Personally, I cannot imagine how to study epidemiology without having a textbook, and only relying in class notes, instructor’s power points, and some pieces of epidemiology found in the Internet. Those are the main reasons I am writing this book.

It is said that knowledge is power
The knowledge of epidemiology can be used to better understand medical and public health journal articles, especially the data and results section, which usually include numerical information layout on tables that contain statistical results, a basic knowledge in epidemiology can help with this.

Image “Knowledge” by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 Alpha Stock Images

A knowledge in epidemiology can also help to understand the concept of rates, ratios and counts and also prevalence, incidence, odds ratio, and relative risk that are the main concepts learned in an introductory course in the field. Once these concepts are understood, the data start making sense and the overall information contained in medical and public health journals can be used more efficiently.

What I think overall
I think that taking a basic course in epidemiology is a tremendous tool to make better sense of the information that is published in scientific journals, and even in a lot of popular readings and publications found in the World Wide Web. It is my hope that this small book will help you (the student) to becoming interested, and maybe passionate about the field of epidemiology and its role in medical and public health practice.


I want to acknowledge the support of the Minnesota State Higher Education system to allow me to participate in the Open Education Resources (OER) Initiative that intents to provide free access textbooks to its students in these current times in which textbooks have become so expensive.


Thanks also to Dr. Karen Pikula, who have been my mentor and facilitator at the Minnesota State OER Learning Circles in which I have participated in recent years, she believed in me that I was able to prepare this content and complete the work.


Also, thanks to the administrators in St Cloud University who has been supportive signing the OER Learning circles paperwork, and welcoming of the OER textbook’s Minnesota State initiative, which intents to close the equity gap that will make higher education available to all students in the system. To all, thanks,
Giovanni A.


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Principles of Epidemiology Copyright © by H. Giovanni Antunez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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