Lack of physical activity, over-use of motorized transport, unsafe road design for cycling or walking, societal threats in outdoor environments, high energy intake, lack of monitoring, fast food intake, lack of education, overweight parents, etc.
Dust mites (predisposing household fittings), pets, cockroaches, rodents, environmental tobacco smoke, moulds, slow combustion heaters, ambient air pollution (ozone, pollen), cold conditions, exercise, etc.
Inadequate water filtration, poor water treatment management, diffuse faecal runoff from catchments with animals, poor human sanitation arrangements, poor washing facilities, poor handwashing behavior, lack of water and food hygiene education, lack of hygiene in institutions (prisons or daycare centres), anal intercourse, lack of emergency arrangements (boil water alerts), etc.
However, sub-factors for a hazardous lifestyle could also be studied (this almost amounts to studying the sub-risk factors behind a complex risk factor itself):
Lifestyle (a risk factor)
Poor dietary practice
Educational level, social and economic status, sex, age, employment, parental influence, health interests, distance from work (time spent traveling), etc.
Age, sex, educational level, type of employment, occupationally-related stress, social behavior, year of study (as a student), etc.
Safety-education received general educational level, age, sex, etc.
Solar protection practice
Age, sex, protective clothing, sunscreen usage, education, exposure, etc.
- A protocol is like a building plan in that it sets out what the project will be called, why the work is being carried out, the underlying objectives, who is to perform the work, when and where the work will take place, its duration, where the ideas behind the plan have come from, what type of design is to be followed, what analytical method will be used to assess the raw data, how it will be presented to one’s organisation, the scientific community and the public, what presentation methods will be used, which resources are available and which are still needed, what the literature says about the topic, the ethical constraints, how long the study will take and what budget is anticipated, plus any other details which may be relevant. The student should make it an objective to see that the Protocol addresses these requirements.
- A protocol as a planning tool must give a clear idea of what the investigator or researcher wants to do, in order that the feasibility of the intended project can be assessed and mistakes anticipated by “thinking through the problem” before valuable time and money is expended. Part of this involves working through the problem and its assessment on paper to identify, explore and address the potential pitfalls and problems before they happen.
- Just as an architect produces a plan or a model of an intended building, so the investigator produces a pro-tocol. Inspiration for a great building or for a great investigation or piece of research may initially be inspirational, based on the ability of an individual to think in an integrative way and to hypothesise, but at some time these visions must be brought back to reality in terms of known limitations which may already be found in the literature, or by visiting the actual place where the health issue exists. Successful implementation of visionary research ultimately relies on careful planning for the implementation of work in terms of a set of logical and pre-determined steps. In this regard, study of the literature (journal publications and sometimes books) can assist the investigator to avoid many of the pitfalls others have made and prevent them from attempting to ‘reinvent the wheel’.
- Repeating an existing research project in a new place to acquire information about local conditions is per-fectly acceptable and in this regard the literature will give vital clues as to tried and proven methodologies, or as to a study carried out in another place which could be locally repeated to assess potential local risk factors.
- The student should consider suitable topics for this assignment during the earlier part of the semester and attempt to include ideas acquired from a number of modules in the Protocol. Discuss feasibility of these ideas with the lecturer as they arise. Here some preliminary reading of the literature (papers secured using Scopus search engine, books from the library, institutional web sites, etc.) will be needed to give you an understanding of each disease and its likely risk factors.
- It is expected that the final assignment (Epidemiology Protocol) will be based on a real problem or setting, so students should identify the place where the problem might happen and carry out a certain amount of field visiting on their own, during which discussions would take place with available experts, to develop a feasible Protocol. In this