Pub. date: 2008 | Online Pub. Date: November 27, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412953948 | Print ISBN: 9781412928168 | Online ISBN: 9781412953948| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
A case definition is a set of criteria used in making a decision as to whether an individual has a disease or health event of interest. Given that one of the goals of epidemiology is to quantify the magnitude of disease in a population, a case definition is an imperative step in this process because it establishes what criteria constitute a case of the disease. Case definitions are used both in ongoing public health surveillance and during outbreak investigations in field epidemiology. A case definition should include several key characteristics. It should be clear, simple, and concise so that it can be easily applied to the population of interest. A case definition ...