I am currently supporting I-TECH South Africa and the University of Washington with the development of an applied epidemiology distance learning course. One of the main tasks it to provide technical expertise related to the South African clinical and epidemiology contexts.
For this project I am busy developing workbooks for two modules on applied epidemiology. Objectives were developped for both modules. The first module covers descriptive and analytical epidemiology including measures of frequency and association; outbreak investigations and surveillance systems; and measures of test performance. The second module includes the criteria for causality; the concepts of estimate, 95% confidence interval, hypothesis testing, and p-value; the different epidemiological study designs; bias and confounding; sampling; quantitative data collection; and research ethics.
Each workbook includes the following: theory; examples based on studies conducted in South Africa (e.g. Antenatal care HIV survey, HIV population prevalence survey, studies on diarrhoea, TB, measles); “stories” from fictional health worker characters that address situations that health workers could come accross in real life; and various exercises (multiple choice, matching, calculating) to test and apply knowledge. These workbooks together with answer guides can be used for self-study, but these are also turned into an eLearning course that includes mini-lectures and interactive exercises.
We also hope that this course will make some health care workers enthusiastic about epidemiology and will start with the South African Field Epidemiology and Laboratory Training Programme.