PhD - Population Health Science

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Course Descriptions

  • PHS 701. Applied Demography. A growing number of administrative, planning, and statistical agencies at all levels of government, public policy research organizations, and private industries are showing an interest in employing persons whose primary training and expertise is in the use and analysis of population statistics. This course will provide a basic understanding of the way the population's social and demographic structure changes is becoming increasingly important for addressing a variety of social problems and issues--and for business and government decision making. This course will provide you with a useful framework for evaluating how social change becomes transmitted over time. (3 credit hours). Prerequisites: PHS 702 – Statistical Methods in Research and PHS 703 – Epidemiology I (or equivalents).
  • PHS 750. Population Health Research Methods I. This course will introduce the major components in research methods including: levels of measurement, qualitative and quantitative study designs, selection of study populations, hypothesis formulation, sampling, measurement instrumentations, formulation of research questions, and study interpretation issues such as determination of causality and the effectiveness of clinical and community interventions. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 752. Population Health Research Methods II. This course is designed to provide graduate students with a solid and applied understanding of advanced research topics and methods used commonly in population health science research. It is designed to build on the research skills obtained in other fundamental research methods and statistics courses. Advanced topics in epidemiology, research design and statistical analysis will be discussed and students will be asked to lead discussions, apply their skills in class and for homework assignments. Participants will gain skills in the design of conceptually cogent and methodologically rigorous proposals and in manuscript preparation. (3 credit hours). Prerequisite: PHS 750. Population Health Research Methods I.
  • PHS 742. Advanced Statistical Analysis: Multivariate Regression. This course introduces the basic concepts and steps associated with multivariable statistical modeling. It integrates methods with performing the steps using data analysis tools such as Stata. Presents use of generalized linear models for quantitative analysis of data encountered in public health and medicine. Specific models include analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, multiple linear regression, logistic regression, and Cox regression. Applied linear regression involving hands-on data analysis will be emphasized. Students enrolling for this course should have taken at least one other graduate level statistics course and should be conversant with the basic fundamentals of statistical testing and estimation. (3 credit hour). Prerequisites: PHS 702 – Statistical Methods in Research and PHS 703 – Epidemiology I (or equivalents).
  • PHS 749.  Advanced Statistical Analysis: Longitudinal and Multilevel Models. This course covers statistical models for drawing scientific inferences from clustered/correlated data such as longitudinal and multilevel data. Topics include longitudinal study design; exploring clustered data; linear and generalized linear regression models for correlated data, including marginal, random effects, and transition models; and handling missing data. (3 credit hours). Prerequisites: PHS 702 – Statistical Methods in Research and PHS 7X03 – Epidemiology I (or equivalents).
  • PHS 743. Program Evaluation for Population-Level Interventions. This course is designed to cover a wide range of assessments including individual programs, institutional and governmental policies. Evaluators work with program staff and stakeholders to clarify a program’s operational theory and goals, develop information to help tailor an intervention to a specific audience, document a program’s specific activities, reach, and outcomes, and develop information about the impact of a program or policy on a specific community health concern. This practical course will cover the core knowledge and skills involved in program evaluation, provide hands-on experience in evaluation design, and provide exposure to some of the ethical and philosophical issues current in evaluation research. The course will be conducted entirely online. Course activities will be focused on giving students hands-on experience in the specific research skills and tools required for effective program evaluation. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 700. Essentials of Population Health Science. Introduction to how the multiple determinants of health (e.g., health care, socioeconomic status, genetics, the physical environment and health behavior, and their interactions) have implications for the health outcomes of populations. Characteristics of populations defined by geography, diagnosis, and/or point of care will be discussed. Avenues in which health care systems, public health agencies, community-based organizations, retail health organizations work together to improve local, national, and global communities. Students will also learn how to view problems from a population health and population health management perspective. Descriptions of how
    clinical and non-clinical data is used to measure health-related outcomes, analyze patterns, communicate results, and develop evidence-based intervention practices to manage of health of populations will be explored. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 714. U.S. Healthcare Organizations and Delivery. Focuses on the organization, financing, and delivery of healthcare in the U.S. Contrasts the private and public sectors and examines the effects of market competition and government regulation. Examines the ways that medical providers are paid, and explores the major issues currently facing physicians, hospitals, and the pharmaceutical industry. Also discusses several potential small and large scale reforms to the U.S. healthcare system and evaluates their likely effects on healthcare spending, quality of care, and access to care. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 716. Designing Interventions to Change Organizational Behavior. This course is designed to provide students with a conceptual framework addressing the strategic importance of managing change and organization development (OD) in various agencies, health care organizations, human service organizations, community organizations and other settings. Uncertainty, complexity and rapidly changing organizational environments create the necessity for organizations to respond to and effectively deal with turbulence and instability. The capability of an organization's human resources to adapt to such conditions, adopt and successfully use new practices, technologies and develop ways of performing organizational tasks is vital to proactive and sustainable human service organizations. Managing change and OD are essential to these processes. Students will also learn LEAN and six sigma methodologies as key tools for process improvement in healthcare settings that require the management of multidisciplinary teams. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 717. Principles of Classic, Modern, and Emerging Health Behavior Theory. This course will provide an overview of social and behavioral science theories and frameworks that are currently used to: 1) understand health related behaviors; and 2) guide development of interventions and policies designed to prevent, reduce or eliminate major public health problems. Population health is an interdisciplinary field built upon other disciplines such as sociology, psychology, economics, demography, and public health. As a result, this course will cover classic theories in psychology and sociology; the leading health behavior theories in public health, and emerging theories used in population health interventions. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 731. Economic and Social Determinants of Health. This course analyzes the social factors, such as inequalities in income and opportunities, and racial/ethnic disparities that influence the health of populations. The course examines the effect of economic, social, cultural, and environmental factors on population health. The course looks at how systematic variation in these factors lead to health disparities, and explores how economic, social and cultural conditions interact with other determinants of health such as human behavior and biology. The course also reviews the methods used in health disparities research and assesses relevant economic and social policies.
  • PHS 712. Introduction to Knowledge Translation and Science Communication. This introductory course is based on the premise that scientists, and increasingly, other practitioners and educators, are agents of change in creating research impact, promoting research utilization, and ensuring that research findings reach the appropriate audiences. Knowledge Translation as defined by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, as “a dynamic and iterative process that includes the synthesis, dissemination, exchange and ethically sound application of knowledge to improve health, provide more effective health services and products, and strengthen the health care system”. The major course objective is to provide a solid foundation for communicating complex scientific information and study findings to multiple audiences. The course will focus on the various contexts of science communication including interpersonal, small group, mass media, and organizational templates for message generation. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 713. Introduction to Implementation Science and Dissemination. This course is an introduction to implementation science and dissemination, with an emphasis on population health. Implementation science is the scientific study of methods to promote the uptake of research findings into routine healthcare in clinical, organizational or policy environments. The course will first highlight current challenges in population health and the role of implementation science in addressing them, including the development of practice-based research activities and the provision of technical support for program implementation. The course then will define current implementation research frameworks and active implementation frameworks and describe the interface between improvement science and implementation science. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 709. Population Health Management. This course will introduce students to the applied field of population health management through the use of case studies and key elements of population health management such as development of accountable care processes and infrastructure, payer relationships, care coordination, health and financial management systems, and leadership. Descriptions of how clinical and non-clinical evidence is used to measure health-related outcomes, analyze patterns, communicate results and identify best practices and implement effective interventions to manage the health of clinical populations. The importance of the translation of data and information into intelligence used for clinical decision-making will be emphasized, as well as the challenges of using this data in health policy decision-making. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 739. Advanced Science Translation and Communication. This course is designed to advance your knowledge of health and science communication theory, research, and practice. The major course objective is to provide a solid foundation for communicating complex scientific information and study findings to multiple audiences. The course will focus on the various contexts of science communication including interpersonal, small group, mass media, and organizational templates for message generation. (3 credit hours)
  • PHS 745. Community Engagement and Community-Based Participatory Research. Community engagement strategies that affect health behavior are increasingly important for improving the health of populations. Introduces the principles and applied methods of community-engaged research, including defining the community and partnership models for identifying relevant research questions. The course will cover community assessment, coalition building, choosing community partners, ethical issues of community work and important methodological issues of community-based participatory research. It is intended to develop and expand the skills of population health professionals in designing and delivering culturally congruent health promotion program in community settings. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 706. Population Health and Consumerism. Hospitals and health systems are re-inventing themselves and working with providers and their communities to position their organizations for success in an environment that demands high-value, lower-cost and efficient health care. But as hospitals and health systems transition to value-based care, they must do so with an eye on the consumer. Patients, and their families, will be more informed and savvy in making health care purchasing decisions. This course will familiarize students with the growing movements in both healthcare consumerism and population health management. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 711. Health Care Quality and Safety. This course provides an overview of health care quality and safety. Students will learn quality improvement concepts and techniques and will practice the techniques in teams. Assigned readings, video talks and lectures, online discussions, individual writing assignments, small group activities, and team projects will be used. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 720. Population Health Informatics. This course will focus on the concepts, theories and practices of the evolving discipline of health informatics. Differentiation between approaches used in this field versus health information technology will be highlighted. Health informatics is defined as the method of acquiring, storing, retrieving, and using healthcare information to foster better collaboration among patients and health care providers. This evolving specialization links information technology, communication and health care to improve the quality and safety of patient care. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 721. Digital Healthcare. This course introduces students to the utility of information and communication technologies (ICT) within modern healthcare practice. Students will learn about a range of digital technologies and applications in the areas of clinical practice, education and administration that are fast becoming commonplace. The course fosters awareness of digital health at national and international levels; it examines the characteristics of digital health innovation, strategic vision and deployment in various countries such as Australia, US, Canada, Europe and the developing world. While evaluating the technological advances relative to patient-centered care, students will also study the potential pitfalls of the use of technology in healthcare. The course draws attention to the associated social, ethical, legal issues and workflow issues that must be considered when integrating digital health into clinical practice. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 705. Principles of Advanced Payment Models for Population Health Management. Alternative Payment Models (APMs) are approaches that reward providers for the delivery of high-quality and cost-effective care. Advanced Payment Models are a subset of APMs that let clinical practices earn more rewards in exchange for taking on risk relative to patient outcomes. This course will cover the range of alternative payment models in healthcare and the policies that undergird these advances such as the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA) and the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS). (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 761. Health Care Finance. This course covers key financial concepts and principles in the health care industry. Managerial and financial accounting, as well as financial analysis and strategic planning, are covered. Financial management under prospective payment and capitation systems, as well as product costing and pricing, will be emphasized. Risk-based contracting and other anticipated changes to financial management due to health care reform will be introduced. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 760. Health Economics. This course covers the theory of microeconomic analysis and its application to health and health services. It emphasizes the use of theory to understand problems of organization, delivery, and financing of health services; discrepancies in health levels among members of society; and the choices available to society regarding these issues. Doctoral students will be required to write a paper that identifies and discusses the major policy and research issues in one of the areas of health economics that is introduced in the course. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 762. Methods for Economic Evaluation of Health Programs. This course deals with comparative effectiveness research that takes cost into consideration. It covers the concepts and methods for the economic analysis of healthcare decision alternatives. Topics will include cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analysis, and other methods of decision analysis. It emphasizes the application of these methods to the evaluation of alternative health programs. (3 credit hours). Prerequisite: PHS 760 Health Economics.
  • PHS 799. Doctoral Proposal Development: This course deals with both the theoretical and practical aspects of designing dissertation research and successfully defending the design in a proposal hearing. The purpose of the course is to assist students through the proposal and dissertation writing processes. This course covers the structure and content of a student dissertation research proposal, scientific writing conventions, strategies for conducting a literature search, critical evaluation and synthesis of literature, development of specific aims and research methods, procedures for writing and editing research proposals, and presentation of population health information. Students will be introduced to the process of acquiring and managing extramural funding for sponsored projects with emphasis on NIH research grants. Students will be encouraged to flesh out their doctoral dissertation proposal and to complete a pre-doctoral grant application during this course. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 798. Doctoral Dissertation Seminar. This is a seminar course for doctoral students in Population Health Science who are currently working on their dissertation. The seminar provides students the opportunity to present and discuss their work in a supportive environment. Faculty may also present ongoing research. (1-9 credit hours)
  • PHS 744. Bioethics and Society. This is a case-method course, consisting of discussion of the fundamental basics of bioethical theory. In this class, students will learn the fundamentals of bioethical theory and then apply this knowledge in developing a language and toolbox for making decisions when faced with dilemmas and ethical conflicts in a healthcare setting and in regard to issues of health and healthcare. The underlying concepts are vital to selecting and applying the appropriate frame to view these dilemmas and ethical conflicts. (1 credit hour). 
  • PHS 747. Qualitative Analysis. The purpose of this course is to provide the basic tools for analyzing ethnographic and other forms of qualitative data. The course will have three parts. Part I provides a refresher on qualitative research traditions and techniques as students begin to conceptualize and design their own research project. Part II involves fieldwork: students work in small groups or independently to carry out a field-based research project. Part III covers qualitative analysis and presents the students with the opportunity to learn coding and axial coding techniques using a common software for qualitative analysis. Different analytical approaches will be explored and examined. Students will explore the use of different types of analysis that are appropriate to the data project’s overarching theoretical approach and the topical focus of the study from which it was produced. Students will learn the basics of a software program for coding textual and visual data. The final paper will be the write up of their results. (3 credit hours). Prerequisite: PHS 750. Population Health Research Methods I.
  • PHS 748. Spatial Analysis and Geographic Information Systems for Population Health. Introduces the field of spatial analysis and its application to population health research and planning. Concepts are examined through the use of ArcGIS Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping software as a tool for integrating, manipulating, and displaying health related spatial data. GIS topics covered include mapping, geocoding, and manipulations related to data structures and topology. Introduces the spatial science paradigm: Spatial Data, GIS, and Spatial Statistics. Selected case studies are used to demonstrate concepts along the paradigm. Focus is on using GIS to generate and refine hypotheses about population health related spatial data in preparation for follow up analyses. (3 credit hours). Prerequisite: PHS 702 – Statistical Methods in Research or equivalent.
  • PHS 746. Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Evidence Synthesis. This course introduces the methods of systematic review and meta-analysis, including formulating questions, criteria for relevance and rigor in selecting primary studies, search strategies, coding protocols, tables and other formats for presenting data, qualitative and quantitative representations of effect sizes from individual primary studies, and analyses of groups of studies to estimate an average effect size and to explain variation. Each student works on his/her own project with the goal of producing a complete proposal/protocol and taking preliminary steps in all phases of the systematic review process. This course will include A STATA-based workshop in meta-analysis. The course will also provide an overview of evidence-based medicine and evidence-based public health practice. (3 credit hours).
  • PHS 790.  Special Topics in Population Health Science. The focus of this Special Topics course may vary by semester. It is designed to respond to contemporary issues in population health as well as to cover specific areas of faculty and/or students’ interest. (1-9 credit hours).
  • PHS 791.  Independent Study. This course is intended to meet special needs of individual students. Students who wish to learn more about a particular topic can approach a mentor to determine an advanced course of study for a particular topic. The structure of an individual course is decided upon by the individual course instructor with approval from the program committee. Traditional Independent Study (1-9 credit hours).