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Prevalence

German: Prävalenz

1 Definition

Prevalence is defined as the presence of a disease or a symptom in a population at a certain point of time.

2 Calculation

The prevalence can be calculated from the ratio of the number of affected individuals of a population and the number of all the individuals of this population:

  • P = Qaffected/Qtotal (P = prevalence, Q = quantity)

When you only look at the number of newly affected persons, you talk about the incidence.

3 Classification

After the period that the prevalence refers to, you can further differentiate between:

  • Period prevalence: The prevalence over a certain period of time (eg. 1 year) or as life time prevalence referring to the total lifetime of an individual.
  • Point prevalence: the prevalence at a certain point of time (eg. at a certain reporting date)

The comparison of the point prevalence at different points of time is better suited for the assessment of the epidemiological dynamics of a disease than the period prevalence.

see also: pretest probability, positive predictive value, negative predicitve value

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