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Cross-Sectional Study

Cross-section of the Earth
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A cross-sectional study takes a sample from a defined population at one specific point in time. By collecting this data, the researcher is able to assess the frequency of a disease and perhaps associated factors. The researcher asks, "What's happening," in respect to the particular population being studied to catalog disease prevalence.
5 KEY FACTS
Observational
Observatory

A cross-sectional study is an observational study; the researcher cannot influence the outcome by changing variables.

(Asks) "What's happening?"
Confused researcher asks "What's happening?"

By taking data from a particular population, a researcher is able to ask, "what's happening?," in regard to features of the population. They are able to assess the frequency of a disease in a defined population.

Data at one specific point in time
Data sheet with specific time point

A cross-sectional study only takes data from one specific point in time. It is not longitudinal and does not follow trends of disease development or look for causative factors for disease.

(Finds) frequency of disease
Frequency waveform

The data collected allows the researcher to find the frequency of disease in a population at a specific time point.

MEASUREMENT
Prevalence
P-violets

Using a cross-sectional study, the prevalence of a particular disease or trait can be calculated. Typically prevalence is exhibited as a fraction, ratio, percentage or number of cases per 10,000 or 100,000 cases.

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