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Johns Hopkins University

Data and Health Indicators in Public Health Practice

Johns Hopkins University via Coursera


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Epidemiology is often described as the cornerstone science in public health. Epidemiology in public health practice uses study design and analyses to identify causes in an outbreak situation, guides interventions to improve population health, and evaluates programs and policies. In this course, we'll define the role of the professional epidemiologist as it relates to public health services, functions, and competencies. With that foundation in mind, we'll introduce you to the problem solving methodology and demonstrate how it can be used in a wide variety of settings to identify problems, propose solutions, and evaluate interventions. This methodology depends on the use of reliable data, so we'll take a deep dive into the routine and public health data systems that lie at the heart of epidemiology and then conclude with how you can use that data to calculate measures of disease burden in populations.


  • Introduction and Problem-Solving Methodology
    • In this module, we will introduce the problem solving methodology. This methodology is a powerful tool that can useful when identifying a public health problem, building the case that there truly is a problem, suggesting interventions, and suggestions ways to evaluate the interventions and disseminate the findings of the evaluation.
  • Data Sources in Public Health
    • In this module, we dive deeper into what lies at the heart of epidemiology: data! More specifically, we will look at routine and public health data systems.
  • Measures of Disease Burden
    • In this module we will use data from routine and public health information systems to measure the burden of disease in the population. We will calculate crude mortality rates, and then apply direct and indirect age standardization methods.
  • Health Indicators
    • In this module, we'll discuss health indicators, which are important measurements of the health of a population. There are numerous health indicators that help us paint the picture of a populations health. We'll talk about characteristics of good health indicators to provide a little guidance on how to choose health indicators for the public health problem of interest. Then, we'll use the example of the health indicator of liver cancer incidence to explore descriptive epidemiology. We will stratify liver cancer incidence by person, place, and time, to build our skills in descriptive epidemiology.

Taught by

Keri Althoff


4.2 rating, based on 4 Class Central reviews

4.7 rating at Coursera based on 1176 ratings

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  • There is a lot of relatively new information here even for an intermediate-level public health worker, and I would recommend this course for those interested to get into graduate-level programs in public health.
  • Sama'ila Usman
    Frankly speaking before I have little background about epidemiology because I studied Microbiology (University Level) and I took a course with title of epidemiology of infectious diseases. Finally because of the above reasons I will like to take this course for helping my community in minimizing or control spreading of disease especially communicable diseases.
  • As I am working in an epidemic prone institution, refugee camp, I am interested to follow this course for better prevention of diseases.

    Best regards.
  • Izimba Juma
    I have not yet taken this steps of learning this course but I believe will be an exciting course
    I would like to dig it much deeper there after will give my take later on

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