Epidemiological Applications Unit




Multifactorial etiology refers to a shift in etiology in the 20thcentury that pertains to looking at the many factors or combinationof factors that contribute to diseases as opposed to looking at asingle causative agent. For instance, cardiovascular diseases areknown to be caused by a wide range of factors as opposed to a singlefactor. Therefore, Multifactorial etiology has a huge impact on thenatural history of disease, which is the progression of an untreateddisease over time in an individual, because different factors or acombination of these factors may affect the progression of thedisease (Norkin, 2015). Factors that influence the progression ofdisease therefore, influence the prevention methods used at each ofthe three levels. These levels are primary, secondary and tertiaryprevention. Nurses can incorporate these concepts in health promotionby educating the public on natural history of diseases and ways theycan participate in disease prevention by addressing the specificcausative factors. Community nurses thus should specify to clientshow individual factors affect health risk at each of the threelevels. A good example of public participation is management ofmeasles.

Measles is a highly infectious viral illness that can be severe andsometimes lead to serious complications. The disease is highlycontagious as it is airborne and sneezing and coughing can easilytransmit the infection. The early symptoms of measles are fever,runny nose, coughing, red eyes, and sore throat that develop withinthe first ten days of exposure. This is followed by a rash thatspreads over the body and spots in the mouth. The whole process canlast about ten in total.

Several states in the US have reported measles outbreaks since 2013.A total of 189 cases were reported as of November 2015 with 159 ofthem happening in 2013 with individuals who have not been previouslyimmunized against the disease being the most affected. Measlesrelated deaths are rare with only one case reported in the US since2003. The report on the contagious levels of Measles reported by CDCconcurs with the report by Schnirring (2015), which indicates thatmost of the reported cases of the outbreak were linked to Disneyland.The convergence of many people, especially kids in one placeincreases chances of infection of airborne diseases such as measles.Such knowledge in the public domain can help individuals participatein disease prevention.


Norkin, L. (2015).The Origin and Natural History of Measles Virus. Retrieved from

The Origin and Natural History of Measles Virus

Schnirring, L.(2015). Four measles outbreaks push US cases to 170. Retrieved from


CDC. Measles Casesand Outbreaks. Retrieved from,