Course review- Epidemiological Methods for Outcome Evaluation of Public Health Interventions
Happy New Year! This will be my last course review as we are now in the process of writing our thesis.
This course is a 10-credit course led by Professor Rosaria Galanti. We had the pleasure of attending lectures, as well as visiting different public health centers during 7 weeks.
This course highlights the importance of public health research beyond describing problems . The end goal of most public health research is to intervene on the public health problem, and as such, evaluating and implementing public health interventions are at the core of translating research.
The main objective of this course was to critically assess different evaluation designs, as well as to choose an evaluation design given an evaluation question. At the end of the course, we were able to identify procedures to evaluate an intervention study, type of data we need, as well as communicate the results along with their implications. We were graded based on a final report we wrote based on one of the three cases given to us. I chose to evaluate the effectiveness of a brief smoking cessation advice to women attending breast cancer screening in the Stockholm region.
The areas we focused on are listed below:
- Evaluation of equity in health- ‘The Rinkeby model’ by Bo Burstrom
- Rökfri Duo- an example of a complex intervention (included a study visit to the Centre for Epidemiology and Community Medicines at the Stockholm County to look at the student health portal and School-meal Sweden as an example of system level interventions) by Maria Nilsson
- The Alcohol Helpline in Stockholm (included a study visit to the Alcohol Help-line) by Rosaria Galanti
- Internet based cognitive behavioral therapy, Physical exercise, and Treatment as usual to treat depression- ‘The Regassa study’- by Yvonne Forsell
- Evaluation of impact of tobacco-preventive policies using a time series analysis (included a study visit to the tobacco quit-line)- by Nicola Orsini and Rosaria Galanti
- Evaluation of a counselling intervention by student health care to reduce overweight in Children- by Liselotte Schäfer-elinder
- Preventing Mother-to-Child Transmission of HIV (PMTCT) interventions evaluation- by Anna-Mia Ekström
- Evaluating the implementation of a community-wide New Father visit at the Swedish Child Health Centers- by Michael Wells
The course encompassed more than lectures and study visits. We had several workshops within each topic and were able to get a glimpse of evaluating and implementing interventions in different settings. There were different exercises and tests to keep track of our progress.
What you would be able to do after attending this course:
- Write an evaluation protocol.
The purpose of evaluating an intervention is to provide evidence to funding agencies, government, and any interested party to make an informed decision on whether they would implement it. This includes presenting the purpose of the evaluation and intertwining the theory that the intervention is based on. It is about formulating evaluation questions in an operative way and describing your methods in detail. Methods entail choosing a study design and defining your exposure, outcome, as well as procedures for recruitment as well as procedures for the allocation of the intervention to your group. It is writing on how you are minimizing bias in your assessment of outcome, exposure to the intervention, and how you will conduct your data analysis. Another major part is the statistical methods and data analysis. You will confidently know how to do sample size estimation in different study designs. You will be competent in data analysis, from data input to data management, which entails techniques to treat missing data, control confounders, and choose a model. As the ethical aspect is important in every study, you will learn how to assess benefits and risks from different perspectives. You will be able to describe how to report and disseminate your results to people.
- Critique an intervention study
After this course, I can confidently say that you would read intervention studies carefully. You will question every methodological aspect of their study, as well the different aspects that could have biased their results. I personally believe critically questioning what you read is one way of confirming that you have learned. The more you understand, the more you question.
This course is simply fantastic and one of my favorites!