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Fig. 2 | Emerging Themes in Epidemiology

Fig. 2

From: What’s more general than a whole population?

Fig. 2

In a whole population study, the sample (dashed circle) has become so large as to coincide with the population (solid circle). The use of confidence intervals, p values, or similar probability statements implies a claim to generalizability to some group beyond the study population: namely the target population, represented by the area outside the two circles. As in Fig. 1, presence or absence of a characteristic is indicated by darker or lighter shading. Authors of whole population studies often do not try to delimit their generalizability. In the figure, such indeterminacy is represented by the target population fading away from the original population: we may not know to what spatial or temporal range the findings may be applicable. Similarly, we may not be able to judge whether the prevalence of the characteristic remains similar in the target population, rather than increasing or decreasing (as it does to the bottom left and top right, respectively, of the figure)

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