A cross-sectional study is an observational study; the researcher cannot influence the outcome by changing variables.
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.
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.
The data collected allows the researcher to find the frequency of disease in a population at a specific time point.
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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