Introduction to Epidemiology

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Berg
Credits: 3
Day: B
Start: 15:40
End: 16:55
Field Work: Day 1 - Dublin - Friday, 20 September | Ireland
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

It has been said that epidemiology is “detective work without the risk of getting shot”.
Epidemiology, the study of the distribution and determinants of disease in populations,
provides evidence to guide health care decisions in specified populations at local through
global levels. The course will cover the scientific methods used to investigate, analyze,
prevent, and control health problems, and demonstrate how these methods can be applied
to improve population health and reduce health inequities. Basic concepts and methods of
epidemiology will be illustrated with key topics of health and disease in the areas being
visited by SAS, such as HIV, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections. The course
will also provide an introduction to various measures of health and disease, ethics in research
involving human participants, and sources of public health data.

Field Work

Country: Ireland
Day: 1 - Dublin - Friday, 20 September

The first stop for this Field Lab is the Public Health HSE (Health Service Executive) of Ireland. The HSE is responsible for the provision of healthcare and personal social services for everyone living in Ireland. We will have an opportunity to learn about the HSE’s efforts to improve how healthcare is delivered in Ireland, such as through the extension of care provided in the community, rather than in hospital, and also through the initiation of a various clinical programs. Key in this work is health protection services and health promotion initiatives. Next, we will visit with the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) for Ireland. This is the country’s specialist agency for the surveillance of communicable diseases. It collaborates and works in close partnership with health service providers within the country and sister organizations in other countries, to provide the best possible information for the control and prevention of infectious diseases in order to protect and improve the health of the Irish population. During our visit, staff at HPSC will explain how they carry out disease surveillance, epidemiological investigations and related research and training. The center contributes to the knowledge base about Ireland’s health by conducting research and data analysis on a range of issues, including the development of estimates and forecasts of the population prevalence of infectious diseases and their determinants and consequences. Aspects of many of these activities will be explained to us and we will have a chance to discuss the work of the institute from various perspective. The last few hours of the afternoon we will visit with the Gay Men’s Health Service (GMHS), which is a community service organization for gay, bisexual men, and men who have sex with men (MSM) and transgender people. It offers a range of services, all related to sexual health awareness, education and advice on the prevention on HIV, Syphilis, Hepatitis and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Staff from GMHS will describe epidemiology in practice: how they use surveillance and monitoring data to develop appropriate health services, and their outreach, research and related work to curb the spread of HIV and other STIs. Academic Objectives:

  1. Appreciate the range of activities undertaken by public health institutions in Ireland to investigate, analyze, prevent and control health problems.
  2. Describe and give examples of some of the surveillance systems in place in Ireland to protect and promote the health of the population.
  3. Discuss the pros and cons of various data sets used by public health institutions in Ireland.