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Environ Health Perspect. 2003 April; 111(4): 593–597.
PMCID: PMC1241450
Research Article

A practice approach for identifying previously unsuspected environmental contributors to systemic lupus erythematosus and other complex diseases.


Existing medical records and health surveys provide insights into potential environmental contributors to complex chronic diseases. Those recognizable risks (e.g., workplace exposures and behaviors including smoking) do not, however, exhaust the domain of potential environmental contributors. Qualitative ethnographic investigation can be used to generate statistically testable hypotheses about environmental contributors to complex disease that otherwise would not be recognized as such. Consequently, we can empirically specify lifestyle beliefs and behaviors usually summarized by proxy identities such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, and culture. The investigation of potential environmental contributors to complex diseases may be particularly useful in confirming or disconfirming suggestive or established linkages and for indicating the kind of gene-environment interaction that may be involved.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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