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Soz Praventivmed. 2002;47(2):80-9.

Statistical methods in epidemiology: Karl Pearson, Ronald Ross, Major Greenwood and Austin Bradford Hill, 1900-1945.

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Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, London.


The tradition of epidemiological study through observation and the use of vital statistics dates back to the 18th century in Britain. At the close of the 19th century, however, a new and more sophisticated statistical approach emerged, from a base in the discipline of mathematics, which was eventually to transform the practice of epidemiology. This paper traces the evolution of that new analytical approach within English epidemiology through the work of four key contributors to its inception and establishment within the wider discipline.

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