Key Learning Points

Epidemiology provides a framework for determining the prevalence, incidence, and risk of pain in populations.

Measures of risk typically include the absolute risk, relative risk, and odds ratio.

The three principal observational designs used by epidemiologists are cross-sectional, case-control (or group comparison), and cohort studies.

Classical epidemiology approaches have resulted in the identification of subgroups that are at higher risk for pain (by sex, age, and ethnicity).

The new molecular epidemiology paradigm integrates the use of biological markers that indicate events at the physiological, cellular, and molecular levels.

The principal molecular epidemiology approaches are candidate gene, pathway-based, and genome-wide scanning approaches.

The statistical analyses performed in genetic association studies of pain follow traditional parametric and nonparametric statistical procedures. However, approaches such as pathway-based analyses and classification and regression tree analyses have gained considerable attention as well. Special considerations in the conduct of genetic association studies of pain include issues of multiple comparisons and population stratification.

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