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E is for Epidemiology

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Date Developed: 1/1/2005. Source: Center for Public Health Preparedness (University of North Carolina). Presenter(s): Amy Pickard Nelson, PhD, MPH. Type: Narrated Slide Presentation. Level: Introductory. Length: Series; various lengths.


This training set serves as an in-depth introduction to the field of epidemiology for non-epidemiologists. Each of the five sessions is broken into two, 30-minute modules. The first session describes public health and the history and application of epidemiology. Session two describes tools of epidemiology, identifies sources of data, gives an overview of data analysis, and introduces the role of the CDC. The third section describes the differences between descriptive and analytic epidemiology, defines key concepts (including case definitions, prevalence, and incidence), provides examples of study designs, and gives a brief overview of measures of association and tests of significance in hypothesis testing. Session four describes public health surveillance, its benefits and challenges, provides examples of surveillance systems, and gives more information on the role of CDC. Part two of session four also describes techniques for analyzing and interpreting surveillance data, describing differences between crude versus specific rates and outlining factors that may influence surveillance data. The fifth section describes specialties in epidemiology, specifically disaster, environmental, and forensic epidemiology, providing examples of their functions and application.

Learning Objectives

Section 1:

• Define the 10 Essential Public Health Services.

• Explain the science of epidemiology in the broader context of the ten Essential Public Health Services.

Section 2:

• Identify the diverse specialties in the field of epidemiology.

• Describe how epidemiological methods are applied by state and district public health professionals.

Section 3:

• List methods that can be used for epidemiologic assessment of a health problem.

• Identify ways that public health laboratories carry out epidemiologic functions.

• Identify ways that data can be collected during an epidemiologic investigation.

Section 4:

• Identify allied health and community partners.

• List ways in which epidemiologists work with the media.

• Describe how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) serves as a resource for training, technical support, and surveillance and reporting of epidemiological data.

Section 5:

• Define descriptive epidemiology.

• Calculate incidence and prevalence.

• List examples of the use of descriptive data.

• Define analytic epidemiology.

• List 3 types of observational study designs.

• Interpret risk ratios and odds ratios.

• Describe how a statistical test is used.

•Explain the surveillance “feedback loop” of data and information flow through local, state, and federal channels.

•Describe characteristics of three different types of surveillance: active, passive, and syndromic.

•List 5 applications of public health surveillance.

•List federal public health surveillance systems relevant to epidemiology programs.

•Discuss the major components of surveillance data analysis.

•Identify epidemiology methods that can be used regardless of epidemiologic specialty.

•Describe the Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) process.

•List 4 functions of environmental epidemiology.

•Define forensic epidemiology.

•State two uses of forensic epidemiology.

•Explain similarities and differences between law enforcement and public health investigations.

•List maternal and child health related surveillance projects.

Special Instructions

Registeration is required. Click on desired learning opportunity. Click on "Registration Form."

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UE8MC25742; MCH Navigator for $225,000/year. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.