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Epidemiology and Statistics Program

The Epidemiology and Statistics Program (ESP) supports epidemiological (clinical) and population-based research studies in all seven mission areas of the NIDCD: hearing, balance, taste, smell, voice, speech, and language. Studies assess impairments of hearing and other communication disorders across the lifespan, including risks associated with other health conditions as well as behavioral, demographic, environmental, and genetic factors.

The ESP plans and participates in the development and implementation of epidemiologic studies on the incidence, prevalence, and determinants of deafness and other communication disorders. For example, the ESP funds community-based and nationally-representative health interview and examination surveys to advance knowledge of the prevalence and determinants of communication disorders. The ESP maintains research collaborations on national health interview and examination surveys with other federal agencies and with academic and private sector organizations via research contracts and/or interagency agreements. These studies address mission areas of the NIDCD, but may also overlap with the mission of other Institutes (e.g., the National Institute on Aging also supports research on age-related hearing loss). In addition, the ESP contributes to the analysis and interpretation of trends for Healthy People 2020 objectives related to the Hearing and Other Sensory or Communication Disorders topic area. Healthy People establishes and tracks science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. This major program activity is led by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office of the Secretary, Department of Health and Human Services.

The ESP collects and provides statistical information for the epidemiology and statistics section of the NIDCD website.


The NIDCD sponsored a Workshop on the Epidemiology of Communication Disorders in March 2005 in Bethesda, Maryland. The purpose was to review current epidemiologic knowledge in the field of communication disorders and to suggest ways to encourage more epidemiologic research. Findings from earlier epidemiologic investigations and reports on useful biostatistical methods were presented. Dr. Karen Cruickshanks, University of Wisconsin, presented the keynote address on the importance of population-based research studies for understanding the burden of communication disorders in society. She explained the critical role that epidemiologic research plays in the design and evaluation of interventions that may prevent or delay impairment and disability.

Workshop participants reviewed clinical and epidemiologic knowledge within each of the NIDCD mission areas and recommended priority topics where more epidemiologic research would be useful in extending our current knowledge and for suggesting prevention strategies. 

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