Cause and Effect in Epidemiology
Determining the cause of a disease or the positive effect of a health activity is an important part of decision-making in public health. But how do we know if something actually does cause a disease or improve our health? Inferring causality is a step-by-step process requiring a variety of information. In this course, Dr. Victoria Holt discusses seven guidelines to use in determining whether a specific agent or activity causes a health outcome. She illustrates each guideline with a public health example. This is part of a nine-part series on epidemiology.
After completing this course, you should be able to:
- Describe and distinguish between association and causality in epidemiology
- List and describe features of associations that support inferences of causality
- List the principal concerns in inferring causality
Public health professionals who want to increase their familiarity with the basic concepts of epidemiology. It is recommended that people are familiar with material presented in the following modules: What is Epidemiology in Public Health?, Study Types in Epidemiology, Measuring Risk in Epidemiology, and Data Interpretation for Public Health Professionals.
Web-based, Flash presentation. This online course has audio narration and interactive exercises and scenarios. This course should take about 0.75 hours to complete.
Victoria Holt, RN, MPH, PhD
Northwest Center for Public Health Practice
University of Washington School of Public Health
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This online training course is audio narrated. A print version is available in the Supplemental Material section at the bottom of this page. Please note that the print version does not include interactive exercises, quizzes, or the final assessment. To receive a print version of the quizzes in this module, or if you have any difficulties, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to obtain a print copy of the audio narration before beginning the course, download the course transcript below.