Class Central is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Johns Hopkins University

Disease Clusters

Johns Hopkins University via Coursera


Do a lot of people in your neighborhood all seem to have the same sickness? Are people concerned about high rates of cancer? Your community may want to explore the possibility of a disease cluster, which happens when there is a higher number of cases of disease than expected.

When communities hear about cases of disease in their neighborhood, they are rightfully concerned. However, the results of investigations by the health department often find no evidence of a cluster.

This course will help you understand what a disease cluster is and how it is studied. The goal is to empower community (or citizen) scientists, and to help build better relationships between communities and health officials.


  • Introduction and What is Disease?
    • Welcome! We're excited to lay out the rationale behind this course and begin to talk about disease and it's study.
  • How is Disease Studied
    • Now we dive into the study of disease, looking at how we can break things down by place and over time. . . with a special focus on unusual disease events. The five question quiz asks about what we've covered up to that point.
  • Approaches to Possible Clusters
    • How do people working in health departments handle disease cluster investigations? Who else is involved? Module 3 starts off with some videos and a discussion. We look forward to engaging with you! At the end of the module, a quiz asks about material covered since your last quiz.
  • Why Are These Investigations Often Unsuccessful? (Suzanne Condon)
    • As we've mentioned, the tools available to public health often don't lead to the answers for which a community hoped. This module covers some of the reasons for that. Your final quiz asks about material presented in Module 4.
  • What can community members do?
    • Around the world, many communities grapple with disease clusters every day. Hear from an organization in the US working with those communities to help answer their questions. Your final assignment asks to you bring together everything you've learned to develop a plan for how you will (or would) handle a disease cluster investigation. We hope to see lots of innovative ideas!

Taught by

Dr. Megan Weil Latshaw, PhD and Dr. Ellen Silbergeld


4.7 rating at Coursera based on 310 ratings

Start your review of Disease Clusters

Never Stop Learning.

Get personalized course recommendations, track subjects and courses with reminders, and more.

Someone learning on their laptop while sitting on the floor.