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Epidemiology in Evidence-Based Policy

June 12 - June 16, 2023
1:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
2 credits
Course Number: 340.636.11 (in-person)

                                  340.636.49 (online)

This is a hybrid course with both a synchronous online section (140.630.49) and an in-person section (140.630.11). You can indicate which option (either online or in-person) when registering in SIS.

"I loved this class even more than I was expecting to. Dr. Appel recruited some really amazing speakers and I was very impressed/engrossed in the varying discussions. I am very glad that I took this course and I got a lot out of it."—Student, 2019

"Wonderful structure of the class, with opportunity for discussion as well as lectures from experts in each topic."—Student, 2018

Course Instructors:


Course Description:  

Learn how science in general and epidemiology in particular are used to inform health and regulatory policies.

Distinguishes between good science and “junk science,” defines the role of scientists and epidemiologists in translating evidence to practice and policy, and examines how science fares in the legislative, regulatory, and judicial settings. Places special emphasis on contemporary cases in which the evidence is actively debated. Topics include nutrition recommendations (e.g. reductions in sodium, saturated fat), screening recommendations (e.g. mammography for women in their forties and screening for prostate cancer); gun-control; fraudulent research (e.g. purported link between autism and prior MMR vaccination); and legal and policy implications of class action lawsuits (e.g. lawsuits for breast implants and the Björk-Shiley mechanical heart valve). Faculty present examples with which they have been personally involved in order to share the “inside scoop” with students. Presents key methodologic issues, e.g. surrogate outcomes, use of systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

Student Evaluation: Exam

Learning Objective:

  1. Assess the contribution of scientific findings to the making of public policy.

  2. Assess the contribution of scientific findings to the making of clinical decisions and the development of practice guidelines.

  3. Differentiate between good science and junk science.

  4. Examine the legislative, regulatory, and legal perspectives of policymaking

  5. Examine the interplay among the various determinants of policy and clinical decision making

  6. Identify methodologic issues that affect the relevance of published evidence

Prerequisite: Knowledge of basic epidemiology is recommended.

Grading Options: Letter Grade or Pass/Fail

Course Materials: Provided in class and through CoursePlus