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Population Health: Syndemics

Leiden University via Coursera


Do you wish to contribute to breaking cycles of ill-health in disadvantaged populations? And explore co-occurrence of diseases, such as substance abuse, infectious and chronic disease, and the relation with social factors (disparities)?
Are you disappointed in the poor effectiveness of interventions for combined social and medical problems?
Then this syndemics course might provide you with some answers.

In medicine, diseases are generally approached as distinct entities, in isolation from other diseases ánd the social contexts in which the disease occurs. However, in disadvantaged populations accumulations of risk factors intertwine with complex social problems leading to excessive burdens of disease and interventions with poor effectiveness.
For that reason, alternative approaches are needed that do not separate diseases from the contexts of inequality and health disparity in which they develop. The simultaneous presence of more than one disease is not treated as co-morbidity; a syndemic approach pays attention to the forces that tie afflictions together.

This course will learn you about the concept of syndemcs and how to explore these combined medical and social problems. It will cover different research methods (quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method research) that can be used in studying syndemics.


  • Welcome to Leiden University
  • Syndemic Theory
    • Welcome to Population Health: Syndemics! In this module you will get acquainted with the terminology used in this course, and gain an overview over the field of syndemics.
  • Interaction in Syndemics
    • In this module you will learn about how to assess whether health conditions and social conditions cluster and interact in a person or a population.
  • Context in Syndemics
    • This module introduces you to qualitative research. Qualitative methods will help you study the social conditions that shape a syndemic.
  • Mixed methods
    • This is the last module of Syndemics. You will be introduced to how to combine quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method research when studying a syndemic.

Taught by

Matty Crone and Ria Reis

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