An approach to the study of contagious disease epidemics: conceptual model based on spatial and functional scales of epidemic progression

A new approach to the standardization of the study of epidemics is proposed. The approach proposed consists of a conceptual model where: (a) the epidemic components are integrated according to models used by geographers in the study of innovation diffusion. This attitude is justified by the isomorphism between this diffusion and dissemination of an infectious disease; (b) the model adopted takes into account the data to be collected in field work on epidemics. This permits a non-intuitive method for the elucidation of the mechanism of progression of epidemics, and (c) the relationship between the several components is made rationally because of the use of some spatial scales (static view) and some functional ones (dynamic view). The failure to identify the (basic) concept of scale has provoked much confusion and has impeded important progress in the study of epidemics. As a matter of fact, this failure to identify the scale unit has harmed standardization in epidemics.

Disease outbreaks; Communicable disease; Epidemiologic methods; Models, theoretical

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