May 2013

Social Epidemiology (Coursera)

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Social epidemiology is about how a society makes people sick and/or healthy. We address not only the identification of new disease risk factors (e.g., deficient social capital) but also how well-known exposures (e.g., cigarette smoking, lead paint, health insurance) emerge and are maintained by the social system.

This course is about understanding the determinants of health from a broad perspective. We focus on how social relationships and institutions -- such as familial relationships, national policies, and global economic forces -- promote or undermine the health of populations. The course covers existing evidence of health disparities, research methods, and theories relevant to the topic.

The course is interesting because it reveals the so-called fundamental causes of disease and health disparities recognizable within social groups. For example, we examine why a flu germ can affect whole groups of people differently. In short, the course challenges the notion that health is a narrowly defined medical problem.

Students in the course will listen to lectures, read provided materials, and complete quizzes and tests that examine comprehension and one's ability to synthesize ideas.

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