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The University of VermontPH302Epidemiology 1Brief SyllabusCOURSE:
PH302 Epidemiology 1
Matthew Thomas, PhD, Clinical Instructor, College of Medicine
No campus office
Epidemiology is the study of disease distribution and determinants in a given population,but it is also a specific way to think about cause and effect. Rarely do we observe a health determinant thatis both necessary and sufficient to cause a particular health outcome. Rather, the determinants of diseaseare often multifactorial with many of those factors hidden from current methods of identification. For thefactors that can possibly be identified (e.g., behavioral--smoking, diet, exercise; biological--presence or absence of a gene or virus; environmental--exposure to chemicals, radiation) we often cannot directlyobserve a true causal association in a population of interest.Epidemiological methods allow us to estimate how these determinants affect the health of the population,specifically by assigning a value of risk. These methods also attempt to control for factors that obscureobserving relationships between determinants and a health outcome. Through this course, you will learnthe principles and methods of epidemiology. In addition to these tools, you will learn to bring a newapproach to problems associated with improving population health.This course will be taught online and utilize online discussions with assigned readings and questionsspecific to each issue.Students will have short problem sets to demonstrate application of knowledge andcritical thinking. Students will be asked to critique peer-reviewed journal articles. Course grading will includeclass participation (online discussions 30%), problem sets and critiques (40%), a midterm exam (15%) anda final exam (15%).
The main text for the course is
Epidemiologic Methods: Studying the Occurrence of Illness(2003)
by TD Koepsell and NS Weiss. An optional text is
(4th edition, 2009) by L Gordis. Inaddition, readings may include articles from medical journals and other periodicals.
Module 1: Defining populations at risk and relationship to diseaseModule 2: Understanding personal and geographic characteristics in the context of disease variationsModule 3: Disease transmission models: case definition vs. clinical diagnosis, risk and susceptibilityModule 4: Frequency of disease: prevalence and incidenceModule 5: Understanding the difference between numerator and denominator dataModule 6: Basic components of surveillance, active vs. passive surveillanceModule 7: Strengths and weaknesses of various study designs

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