© 2017, © 2017 World Stroke Organization. Observational epidemiological studies have the dual goals of measuring disease burden and assessing the association between exposures and outcomes. This report focuses on the first of these goals and provides an overview of design considerations of commonly used approaches, specifically community surveillance studies, cross-sectional studies, and longitudinal cohort studies. Each of these designs has strengths and weaknesses, with no study design being superior in all cases. Rather, these designs are complementary to achieve a better understanding of the burden of stroke.