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Course Descriptions

Below are course descriptions for didactic courses offered by the MPH Program. Courses are offered once per academic year. Courses associated with the practicum and culminating experience are not listed.

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This course focuses on measures of disease frequency and association, observational study design, and diagnostic and screening tests. The course reviews the use of these tools and the role of epidemiology in measuring disease in populations, estimating risks, and influencing public policy. Study designs reviewed include cross sectional, ecologic, case-control, and cohort studies. This course is offered in the Fall term.

This course addresses basic concepts and methods of biostatistics, including data description and exploratory data analysis, study design and sample size calculations, probability, sampling distributions, estimation, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, nonparametric tests, analysis of continuous, categorical, and survival data, data analysis for cohort and case-control studies, relative risk and odds ratio estimation, and introduction to linear and logistic regression. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

This course examines the ethical dimensions of public health research, practice, and policy. Students will become familiar with the language and literature of public health ethics as they explore ethical dilemmas pertaining to the values, principles, rights, and beliefs that shape concepts of research and health care. This course is offered in the Spring term.

This course addresses the design of non-randomized studies and factors that are important in design selection. This includes the design of cohort studies, prospective and retrospective cohort studies, assembly and follow-up of the cohort, exposure measurement, outcome ascertainment, confounders, effect modification, calculation of measures of occurrence and effect, summary of multivariate statistical analyses for cohort studies; the case-control study, conditions necessary for validity of the case-control study, selection of controls, sources of bias in case-control studies, and multivariate analysis; as well as the ecological study, including when to use and when to avoid. The course includes didactic lectures and critical reading of important epidemiologic studies from the current medical literature. Prerequisite: Epidemiology I, Biostatistics II, Clinical Trials, or approval of instructor. This course is offered in the Spring term.

This course addresses modern multivariate analyses based on the concept of generalized linear models. This includes linear, logistic, and Poisson regression, survival analysis, fixed effects analysis of variance, and repeated measures analysis of variance. The course emphasizes underlying similarity of these methods, how to choose the right method for specific problems, common aspects of model construction, and the testing of model assumptions through influence and residual analyses. This course is required for students in the Epidemiology and Health Policy tracks of the M.P.H. Program. Prerequisite: Biostatistics I or consent of the instructor. This course is offered in the Spring term.

This course takes a deep dive into understanding measures commonly used to assess quality in health and healthcare. At the end of the course students will be able to critically assess, analyze, and communicate healthcare data. Pre-requisites: PUBH 5501 Epidemiology I and PUBH 5502 Biostatistics I, or instructor approval. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

This course provides an overview of qualitative and quantitative decision making with a dominant focus on quantitative techniques, using clinical and economic endpoints and their role in clinical strategies of care and health policy. Topics include: cognitive heuristics, Bayes’ theorem, ROC analysis, the study of diagnostic tests, meta-analysis, health states and utility measurement using expected value decision making, decision tree analysis, Markov processes and network simulation modeling, quantitative management of uncertainty, cost theory and accounting, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analysis. This course is typically offered in the Spring term.

This course will provide an overview of the role of informatics in public health practice, including the role of the public health informatician, health information systems used in public health, the role of the health care system in public health, and ethical considerations for the use of public health data. At the end of the course, students will understand the complexity of the data systems that underpin public health practice and the importance of informatics in data acquisition, analysis and use. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role of informatics in surveillance, including outbreak investigation. This online course is typically offered in the Fall term.

Public Health Practice will introduce students to key topics, concepts and methods in Environmental Health and Public Health Surveillance. Basic environmental epidemiology, use of evidence in policy and practice, along with an overview of the main environmental exposures will be explored. This course also examines an overview of public health surveillance as a lens to public health practice, in terms of how public health programs are organized, financed, and operated and what surveillance data are available to inform specific programs. We will review basic approaches to public health surveillance, including disease reporting regulations and notifiable diseases, surveillance for infectious diseases, chronic diseases, and adverse events, uses of surveillance data, and how surveillance data can inform public health program, policy, and practice. The course will be taught by a multidisciplinary group of faculty members using didactic and interactive elements of instruction. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

This course provides a foundation in grant writing for the early career scientist or public health practitioner. It includes core sessions, elective sessions (from which students must choose at least four), and a mock grant review experience. Core topics include an overview of funding agencies and award mechanisms, as well as how to identify funding opportunities, plan an application, construct an impactful research plan, develop a budget, and succeed at grantsmanship. Elective sessions discuss applying for specific types of grants including career development, global health, health policy, and programmatic awards; VUMC institutional awards and resources; VA grants; NIH biosketch development; research mentorship; and training in the responsible conduct of research. Students will also learn how grants are reviewed and scored, and participate in a mock grant review, choosing either career development award applications or programmatic grants. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

The aim of this course is to provide students with an overview of the U.S. health care system and key features of its financing and delivery. We will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of our health care system, historical trends, and how we compare to other countries. Moreover, we will discuss the major components of the Affordable Care Act and implementation challenges going forward. Drawing on materials from different academic disciplines, including economics, political science, and sociology, the course will place particular emphasis on analytic approaches to evaluate policy impact. The course will address a range of topics, including the structure of the delivery system, drivers of spending growth, quality of care, and long-term care. No disciplinary background is assumed, nor is any special familiarity with the field of health care required. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

This is a didactic and participatory graduate-level class. It is designed to introduce key concepts and skills in survey methodology and the application of those skills to public health research. The course includes content on survey modes, sampling, questionnaire development, and survey implementation. The student will develop a research question, recruitment materials, and a short questionnaire based on the theory and skills learned in the course. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

This course is designed to provide an introduction to qualitative research methods, with a focus on research in health behavior, health care delivery, and sociocultural norms that impact health and well-being, although these methods can be applied easily to other arenas. The primary skills we will develop include techniques of the case study method including interviews, focus groups, and observation. Introductions to mixed methods will also be included. We will consider strategies for validity and reliability, and the relevance of standard evaluative criteria such as objectivity, neutrality, and generalizability. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

This course will provide an overview of social and behavioral science theories that are currently used to (a) understand health behaviors; and (b) guide the development of interventions to prevent, reduce, or eliminate major public health problems. We will also explore how technologies (i.e., patient portals, mobile devices, and the Internet) are used to promote health behaviors, disparities in the performance of health behaviors, and how behavioral interventions attempt to address and reduce these disparities. This course is typically offered in the Spring term.

This course is intended to survey the major topics in Health Economics. Each class is organized around a topical theme: those themes include health reform, health insurance, health promotion and disease prevention, and the health care workforce. Each theme will be approached from an economic perspective using recent articles from the literature. This course is typically offered in the Spring term.

This course addresses the evaluation of changes in the health care delivery system, either through programs specifically implemented to achieve such changes or through changes in health care delivery/financing policies. The primary designs–before/after, concurrent/retrospective control, interrupted time-series–and their strengths and limitations. The course includes didactic lectures and small group critical reading/presentation of current program/policy evaluations published in leading medical journals. Prerequisite: Epidemiology II, Biostatistics II, or approval of instructor. This course is typically offered in the Spring term.

This course introduces students to principles of management and leadership of global health programs and organizations in complex and challenging environments. Students will explore diverse health systems, organizational behavior, health policy, program design, and core management techniques. This course is typically offered in the Spring term.

This course introduces students to core research, field tools, assessment and implementation techniques, and evaluation methodologies commonly used in the field of global health. Students explore theories and practices used to analyze issues and intervene in global health and they examine determinants of global health and development from an interdisciplinary vantage point. Health and developmental issues across nations and cultures that require collective, partnership-based action are highlighted. The course is taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members using didactic, interactive and practical elements of instruction. This course is typically offered in the Spring term.

This course introduces students to key topics, concepts and methods in global health, examining determinants of complex issues and multi-dimensional approaches and interventions with a particular emphasis on low-resource settings. Taught by an interdisciplinary team of faculty members, this course uses didactic, interactive and practical elements of instruction to address international and cross-cultural health and developmental issues. At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to discuss major topics in global health and design suitable projects that address global health challenges. This course is typically offered in the Fall term.

This course will introduce students to coronavirus in a case study format with student group discussion facilitated by faculty and trainees who have substantial front-line medicine training and experience. Faculty members will present representative case reports and lead interactive discussions on pathophysiology, epidemiology, disease transmission, clinical presentation, differential diagnosis, diagnosis, and management as well as public health surveillance and containment. This online course is typically offered in either the fall or summer term.

This course serves as an introduction to the field of dissemination and implementation research. Students will learn the foundations of D&I including its theoretical underpinnings as well as how to design and conduct an implementation study. Additional topics such conducting D&I in community and public health settings, policy settings, and the global context will also be covered. This course is typically offered in the Spring term.

This course is designed to promote increased awareness of ways in which social injustice imposed on sub-populations of individuals, families, and communities, as a consequence of “isms”, perpetuates disadvantage and disparities, with implications for mental, physical, and public health, through oppression and marginalization. Students are encouraged to apply course information in efforts to address issues of oppression, social injustices, and inequities in their professional and personal roles (whether teaching, research, practice, policy, and/or service). This course is typically offered in the Spring term.