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In many disciplines, there is often a need to describe the characteristics of some large entity, such
There are several advantages to using sampling rather than conducting measurements on an entire population. An important advantage is the considerable savings in time and money that can result from collecting information from a much smaller population. When sampling individuals, the reduced number of subjects that need to be contacted may allow more resources to be devoted to finding and persuading nonresponders to participate. The information collected using sampling is often more accurate, as greater effort can be expended on the training of interviewers, more sophisticated and expensive measurement devices can be used, repeated measurements can be taken, and more detailed questions can be posed.
The term "target population" is commonly used to refer to the group of people or entities (the "universe") to which the findings of the sample are to be generalized. The "sampling unit" is the basic unit (e.g., person, household, pill) around which a sampling procedure is planned. For instance if one wanted to apply sampling methods to estimate the prevalence of diabetes in a population, the sampling unit would be persons, whereas households would be the sampling unit for a study to determine the number of households where one or more persons were smokers. The "sampling frame" is any list of all the sampling units in the target population. Although a complete list of all individuals in a population is rarely available, an alphabetic listing of residents in a community or of registered voters are examples of sampling frames.
Author Info: PAUL J. VILLENEUVE, The Gale Group Inc., Macmillan Reference USA, New York, Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health, 2002This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your healthcare provider. Please consult a healthcare professional with any health concerns you may have.
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