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MPH 615 Principles of Epidemiology


This course provides basic epidemiologic concepts and methods for public health practitioners, including an understanding of various measures of risk, disease, and mortality in populations. Students learn types of epidemiologic strategies used to examine associations between risk factors and morbidity and mortality and how to distinguish between a statistical association and a causal relationship. The course includes an overview of chronic and infectious disease epidemiology using historical and current public health challenges. In addition to studying various aspects of disease in populations, the importance and types of disease prevention are included.

Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Distinguish between a clinical and a population approach to risk factors and disease.
  2. Articulate biological and genetic factors that affect a population’s health.
  3. List major causes and trends in morbidity and mortality in the United States or other large population.
  4. Illustrate how globalization affects global burdens of disease.
  5. Calculate and interpret common epidemiologic measures (incidence and prevalence rates, relative risk, odds ratios) to draw appropriate inferences.
  6. Discuss how various epidemiologic studies (cross-sectional, case-control, cohort, ecologic, and intervention) are used to study statistical associations between risk factors and disease or death outcomes.
  7. Critically evaluate strengths and weaknesses of epidemiologic methods.
  8. Use an existing database to describe risk factor prevalence and morbidity and mortality rates for a specific disease in a specific geographic area.
  9. Differentiate between a statistical association and a causal relationship between a risk factor and a health outcome.
  10. Discuss the science of primary, secondary, and tertiary prevention in population health including health promotion and the use of clinical prevention services.
  11. Identify ethical and legal implications of epidemiologic practice.
  12. Interpret epidemiological data, evaluating the strengths and limitations of epidemiologic reports.
  13. Interpret results of data analysis in technical and lay language both in writing and through oral presentation.

To find out more about Saint Mary's online Master of Public Health and its curriculum, call 877-308-9954 to speak with an enrollment counselor or request more information.