In many countries, epidemiological research is used by stakeholders in the health industry to undertake scientific studies of disease patterns or incidences among populations, communities, and societies in time and space (Blumenthal, Fleisher, Esrey, & Peasey, 2013). Research shows that epidemiological studies are faced with multiple challenges due to several reasons underscoring the poor replicability or duplication of these studies, some of which include inconsistent phenotypic descriptions, use of unrepresentative sample sizes, and interethnic variability (Grover, Gupta, & Kukreti, 2011). The main focus of the present paper is to explicate the three foremost challenges of conducting epidemiological studies in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
We will write a custom Essay on Challenges of Conducting Epidemiological Studies in the UAE specifically for you
301 certified writers online
One of the main challenges of conducting epidemiological studies in the UAE stems from what is commonly referred to as interethnic variability, or the differences that exist between members of diverse ethnic groups. Here, research is consistent that the UAE “is a rapidly developing country composed of a multinational population with varying educational backgrounds, religious beliefs and cultural practices, which pose a challenge for population-based public health strategies” (Loney et al., 2013, p. 34). Since ethnic differences are often described at the phenotypic and genetic levels, it is possible for epidemiological studies conducted in the country to fail in coming up with objective findings on disease incidence and/or prevalence because the UAE population is ethnically, culturally, religiously and genetically diverse. As such, there is no uniformity on how such a population is affected by public health issues requiring epidemiological research.
The second main challenge concerns the lack of sufficient data that could be used to ground the epidemiological studies. Here, extant research shows that “the unavailability in the public domain of sampling frames or master samples of the UAE population is a hurdle in the selection of representative samples of the target population” (Aw, Zoubeidi, & Al-Maskari, 2011, p. 1643). This challenge, it seems, is compounded by the population dynamics of the UAE, whereby foreign workers come to the country for a few years and then depart to their home countries. Such a predisposition, according to these authors, not only makes it difficult for researchers to collect sufficient data for use in epidemiological studies but also complicates the issue of long-term follow-up of patients. As postulated by Grivna, Eid, and Abu-Zidan (2015), epidemiological studies that are not based on sufficient data are likely to achieve biased and unrepresentative results that cannot be generalized to the wider population.
The third main challenge relates to the fact that the UAE is yet to develop a strong support for population-based epidemiological research due to existing stereotypes and perspectives that appear to be firmly anchored on the socio-cultural and religious aspects of the UAE population (Aw et al., 2011). For example, owing to the country’s hugely Islamic population, some individuals targeted for participation in epidemiological studies have shown marked reluctance to do so, citing religious convictions and personal beliefs. As demonstrated by Dohoo, Martin, and Stryhn (2010), epidemiologic studies can only be effective if they are supported at the base by respective populations.
This paper has discussed the three foremost challenges of conducting epidemiological studies in the UAE. Drawing from this discussion, it is evident that the three main challenges include interethnic variability, lack of sufficient data, and the inability of the UAE to develop strong support for population-based epidemiological research. Consequently, stakeholders in the health sector need to come up with policy directives aimed at addressing these challenges in order to make epidemiological studies in the UAE more effective.
Aw, T.C., Zoubeidi, T., Al-Maskari, F., & Blair, I. (2011). Challenges and strategies for quantitative and qualitative field research in the United Arab Emirates. Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 12, 1641-1645. Web.
Blumenthal, U.J., Fleisher, J.M., Esrey, S.A., & Peasey, A. (2013). Epidemiology: A tool for the assessment of risk. In L. Fewtrell & J. Bartram (Eds.), Water quality: Guidelines, standards and health (pp. 135-160). London, United Kingdom: IWA Publishing.
Dohoo, I., Martin, W., & Stryhn, H. (2010). Veterinary epidemiologic research (2nd ed.). Charlottetown, Canada: VER Inc.
Grivna, M., Eid, H.O., & Abu-Zidan, F.M. (2015). Epidemiology of spinal injuries in the United Arab Emirates. World Journal of Emergency Surgery, 10, 15-28. Web.
Grover, S., Gupta, M., & Kukreti, R. (2011). Challenges and recommendations for conducting epidemiological studies in the field of epilepsy pharmacogenetics. Indian Journal of Human Genetics, 17(1), 4-11. Web.
Loney, T., Aw, T.C., Handysides, D.G., Ali, R., Blair, I., Grivna, M.,…El-Obaid, Y. (2013). An analysis of the health status of the United Arab Emirates: The ‘big 4’ public health issues. Global Health Action, 6, 34-41. Web.