This criteria refers to the presence or absence of a disease in an individual. If they have a disease, then they are positive for the disease. If they do not have a disease, then they are negative.
The x-axis along the top of the table has two categories; those individuals positive for the disease are placed under the first column, and those who are negative are placed in the second column.
This criteria refers to whether or not an individual has been exposed to a risk factor, or similarly has been intervened upon with treatment or testing. If they have ever been exposed to the studied risk factor, then they are positive for exposure. If they have never been exposed, they are negative for exposure.
The y-axis along the left side of the table has two categories; the exposed, positive risk factor individuals are sorted in the first row, but must also be placed under the correct x-axis column of whether they are positive or negative for disease. The same rule holds true for the non-exposed, negative risk factor individuals in the second row.
The value written in the top left box are the sick patients who are positive for disease and exposed to the risk factor.
The value written in the top right box are the healthy patients who are negative for disease but were still exposed to the risk factor.
The value written in the bottom left box are the sick patients who are positive for disease but were never exposed to the risk factor.
The value written in the bottom right box are the healthy patients who are both negative for disease and the risk factor.
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