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Specialization in Epidemiologic Methods for Public Health Professionals


The timely detection, investigation, control, and prevention of outbreaks and major long-term public health problems require a well-trained and competent epidemiology workforce as a key component of a national public health infrastructure. The Epidemiology Workforce in State and Local Health Departments - United States, 2010 Weekly March 30, 2012/61(12);205-208

Epidemiology is an essential science of public health practice. The discipline aims to provide the scientific evidence for disease prevention and to promote the health of populations through the study of the occurrence and distribution of health-related states or events, including the study of determinants influencing such states.

Professional epidemiologic methods, defined as the application of epidemiologic methods to public health practice, entail the combination of analytical methods and applied epidemiology oriented to problem solving in public health. The principal areas of professional epidemiology include epidemiologic assessment of public health data, health situation and trend analyses, public health surveillance and health program impact assessment. These areas are closely linked to the essential public health function and services. This professional education program is intended to provide the concepts, methods and tools needed for the assessment of health situations and trends of population groups.

Upon completion of the core courses of the  professional education program, individuals will have gained specialized knowledge and skills on the application of epidemiologic concepts and methods to public health problems, as follows:

  • Understand the place of epidemiology in public health, specifically how epidemiology is used to identify determinant of health outcomes, identify populations at high risk for negative health outcomes, develop preventative methods and evaluate public health strategies.
  • Calculate and use basic epidemiologic measures of disease frequency, identify sources of data for measuring health outcomes, and identify key aspects of measurement problems,
  • Identify distinguishing features of health situation analysis and the role of ecologic studies and pre-post and quasi experimental studies. Students will be able to describe strengths and limitations of the different    assessment designs, and key sources of confounding and bias in epidemiological studies and
  • Interpret and use the evidence generated by epidemiologic studies.

With regard to the usual functions of public health agencies, students will be able to:

  • Identify the Problem Solving Framework for measuring the severity of priority health problems,
  • Recognize the role of routine and public health information systems in epidemiologic assessments,
  • Identify tools and measurements used to monitor the quality of performance of public health information systems,
  • Identify the main indicators for measuring the burden of diseases at global, national and local levels
  • Design health situation analyses: epidemiological profiles and community health status assessments,
  • Interpret measures of health burden, association and effectiveness,
  • Describe the framework of the public health surveillance cycle and sources of information,
  • Design, implement and evaluate disease surveillance systems,
  • Communicate epidemiological information and synthesis to policy makers, professionals, and lay audiences.