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Objective: the end result a program, a project or an institution seeks to achieve. A specific end point, condition or situation one is determined to achieve. A measurable condition or level of achievement at each stage of progression toward a goal.

Observation: a data-collection technique that involves personally witnessed documentation of events.

Occupancy Rate: the percentage of a hospital's beds filled at a specific time (or in a specific period).

Odds Ratio (OR): An odds of an event is the number of events divided by the number of non-events. In epidemiology an event might be a disease studied in the exposed group versus the control group, e.g. lung cancer. An odds ratio is obtained by dividing the odds in the exposed group by the control group. The ratio of odds that an event will occur in one group compared with the odds that the event will occur in the other group. An odds ratio of 1 means that both groups have a similar likelihood of having an event.

Oligo: see -- oligonucleotide.

Oligogenic: a phenotypic trait produced by two or more genes working together. See also polygenic disorder.

Oligonucleotide: a molecule usually composed of 25 or fewer nucleotides; used as a DNA synthesis primer. See also -- nucleotide.

Oligonucleotide Primer: a short sequence of nucleotides that is necessary to hybridize to a DNA or RNA strand using the enzymes DNA polymerase or reverse transcriptase.

Oncogene: a gene, one or more forms of which is associated with cancer. Many oncogenes are involved, directly or indirectly, in controlling the rate of cell growth. Genes that regulate cell growth in a positive fashion (i.e., promote cell growth). Oncogenes include transforming genes of viruses and normal cellular genes (proto-oncogenes) that are activated by mutations to promote cell growth.

Oncogenic: an agent capable of causing normal cells to acquire neoplastic characteristics. The term is often applied to viruses, such as adenoviruses.

One-tail Test: a test to determine a difference in only one direction; for example, to determine if drug A is better than drug B.

Oocyte: an immature female reproductive cell, one that has not completed the maturing process to form an ovum (gamete).

Open-Ended Questions: free response questions that allow respondents to answer in their own words in either written form via questionnaires or expressed verbally to an interviewer.

Open Enrolment: a period during which an insurer may be required to take any new member or subscriber irrespective of their risk.

Open Reading Frame (ORF): the sequence of DNA or RNA located between the start-code sequence (initiation codon) and the stop-code sequence (termination codon). A sequence of DNA representing at least some of the coding portion of a gene that is transcribed and subsequently translated into a protein because it does not contain any internal translation termination codons.

Operations Research: also called intervention research; research that includes design, implementation, and assessment of a service-delivery or community intervention.

Operon: a set of genes transcribed under the control of an operator gene.

Opting-In: the process whereby people choose to participate in a -- usually public -- health plan that they would not belong to without their active decision to do so.

Opting-Out: the process whereby people choose not to participate in the -- usually public -- health plan they would be assigned to if they don't make an active decision.

Outcomes: a change to a situation resulting from an action. The effect the process has had on the people targeted by it. These might include, for example, changes in their self-perceived health status or changes in the distribution of health determinants, or factors which are known to affect their health, well-being and quality of life.

Outputs: the products or results of the process. These might include, for example, how many people a project has affected, their ages and ethnic groups or the number of meetings held and the ways in which the findings of the project are disseminated.

Out-of-Pocket Expenditure: in public health, especially in relations to national health accounts, the sum of all out-of pocket payment made by individuals.

Out-of-Pocket Payment: fee paid by the consumer of health services directly to the provider at the time of delivery.

Outcomes Research: evaluates the impact of health care on the health outcomes of patients and populations.

Outpatient: a patient who receives treatment without being hospitalized.

Outpatient Health Care Visits Ratio: the number of outpatient health care visits per every 1,000 inhabitants in a population, at a given year, for a given country, territory, or geographic area.

Output: the result of a process.

Overactive Bladder (OAB): condition characterized by involuntary detrusor contractions during the bladder filling phase, which may be spontaneous or provoked and which the patient cannot suppress.

Overflow Incontinence: involuntary loss of urine associated with over-distension of the bladder. Overflow incontinence results from urinary retention that causes the capacity of the bladder to be overwhelmed. Continuous or intermittent leakage of a small amount of urine results.

Overlapping Clones: see -- genomic library.

Oxygen Enhancement Ratio (OER): the ratio of the dose required for a given level of cell killing under hypoxic conditions compared with the dose needed in air.

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