Epidemiological Methods for Studying Determinants of Health

I have really enjoyed reading my fellow Public Health Sciences student Mauricio’s thoughts on his first semester at KI. You can check out his recap here. He also posted a letter to the former director of his MBA program in three installments. Click here for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

As promised in my first post, I would also like to take the time to reflect on last semester. However, before I do that, I’d like to capture my impressions of the course in which we are currently enrolled before it ends this Friday. This course is called “Epidemiological Methods for Studying Determinants of Health” and is our second course in epidemiology (the courses we have completed so far fall into the categories Introduction to Public Health Sciences, Epidemiology 1, Biostatistics 1, and Qualitative Methods). Like the first course in epidemiology, the current course is held in the Institute of Environmental Medicine (or Institutet för miljömedicin in Swedish).


Most of the courses we have completed so far have required attendance almost daily from 9 to 4. Our current course, in contrast, has consisted of lectures for half the day, with a lot of individual work replacing some of the usual group work in the afternoons. This included an individual assignment with written and presentation components as well as a long take-home exam that we have been working on throughout the entire course. These are two books that we have been using as course literature:


In terms of content, we have expanded upon many of the concepts introduced during the first course. At this point in our studies, I feel like we are gaining a true appreciation for just how complex epidemiology is and beginning to really think like epidemiologists. We have been practicing this new way of thinking beyond the lectures. For our individual assignment, we are comparing two studies that investigate the same exposure and outcome using different study designs. During most group work, we apply new concepts to scientific articles by answering questions about the studies. In the photo below, we completed an interesting exercise: creating a concept map of a variety of epidemiological terms. I was surprised that all four groups came up with completely different ways of organizing the concepts, which in turn led to great discussions and a deeper understanding of the material.


At the end of every course, I am amazed at how much we learned in just five weeks. Next week we start our second biostatistics course. I’ll keep you posted!



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