The course examines the methods used in epidemiologic research, including the design of epidemiologic studies and the collection and analysis of epidemiological data. Epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of human disease and health outcomes, and the application of methods to improve human health. Epidemiological studies are typically observational in nature, meaning that that the investigator has limited control over the exposure that study participants experience. Epidemiological studies are typically concerned about the health of populations, while clinical medicine is concerned with the health of individual persons.
Upon completion of the course, the student will be able to:
- Understand epidemiologic hypotheses, concepts and measures
- Describe epidemiologic study designs.
- Understand the strengths and limitations of various epidemiologic study designs.
- Design an epidemiological study.
- Identify sources of bias, confounding and effect modification in epidemiological studies.
- Analyze epidemiologic data using multivariable methods.
- Prepare and make an epidemiological presentation.
- Write an epidemiologic report.
- Write a proposal for an epidemiologic study.
- Critically read epidemiological literature.
Topics typically covered in STAT 507 include:
- Disease causation and epidemiological hypotheses
- Measures of disease frequency
- case definitions
- incidence and prevalence
- rates and risk
- direct and indirect standardization
- Measures of association
- odds, rate and risk ratios
- rate and risk differences
- population attributable risk
- Study designs
- Bias, confounding and effect modification
- Multivariable analysis
- Logistic, Poisson and binomial regression
- Sample size and power in epidemiologic studies
- Special topics:
- prevention and screening
- molecular epidemiology
- geographic variation in disease occurrence
- health disparities
Dr. Eugene Lengerich is the original author of these course materials. He is Professor, Department of Public Health Sciences, College of Medicine, and Director of Community Outreach and Education, Penn State Hershey Cancer Institute. The latest updates have been made by Allison Deal, a biostatistician with the UNC school of medicine.
Students will need to use software to calculate basic epidemiologic measures. This can be accomplished using a statistical software package such as SAS, R, Epiinfo, or Minitab. See the Statistical Software page for information regarding these applications.
- Essentials of epidemiology in public health (4th ed). (2020) by Ann Aschengrau. Published by Jones & Bartlett Learning. (ebook provided through Penn State libraries)
Readings from the literature will supplement the following texts:
- Epidemiology: Study design and data analysis. (2005) by Mark Woodward. Published by Chapman and Hall/CRC.
- Activities - 25%
- Literature Critiques - 15%
- Surveillance Project - 25%
- Study Proposal Project - 35%
3 credits in statistics, STAT 250 or equivalent.