Do you find the thought of interpreting public health data intimidating? This narrated course introduces the terms used to describe the public's health and provides a basic competency in reading and presenting data. If you've ever looked at terms such as confidence interval or p-value and wondered what they meant, this course is for you. This is part of a nine-part series on epidemiology.

Learning Objectives

After completing this course, you should be able to:

  • List at least three common data sources used to characterize health or disease status of a community.
  • Define and interpret basic epidemiology measures, such as prevalence, incidence, mortality, and case fatality.
  • Define and interpret basic biostatistical measures, such as mean, median, confidence interval, and p-value.
  • Read and interpret tables and graphs.
  • Determine the appropriate format for data presentation.

Intended Audience

Public health nurses, environmental health specialists, other front-line public health workers, and health educators who have not had epidemiological or statistical training but need to be able to read, interpret, and present public health data.

Epidemiology Series

What Is Epidemiology in Public Health?

Data Interpretation for Public Health Professionals

Basic Infectious Disease Concepts in Epidemiology

Introduction to Public Health Surveillance

Introduction to Outbreak Investigation

Study Types in Epidemiology

Measuring Risk in Epidemiology

Cause and Effect in Epidemiology

Screening in Public Health Practice


Web-based, Flash presentation. This online course has an audio narration and interactive exercises and scenarios. This course should take about 1.5 hours to complete.

Course Instructor

Janet Baseman, PhD, MPH
University of Washington School of Public Health

Technical Requirements

This course requires certain software and browser plugins to be installed. See our Technical Requirements.


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 course or any other difficulties, please contact

October 6, 2006
Accreditation & Quality Improvement
Infectious Disease & Immunizations
Self-Paced Course
1.5 hours
Competency Domains: 
Analytical/Assessment Skills