Course Syllabus

Epidemiology: Swedish Case Studies

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Semester & Location:

Spring 2019 - DIS Stockholm

Type & Credits:

Elective Course - 3 credits

Major Disciplines:

Public Health, Pre-Medicine/Health Science

Faculty Members:

Nora Döring

Program Director:

Susana Dietrich

Time & Place:

Mondays and Thursdays, 8:30 - 9:50, 1D-509




Nora Döring

PhD in Epidemiology from Karolinska Institutet. MSc in Epidemiology and MSc in European Public Health from Maastricht University, the Netherlands. Research fellow in health politics at Maastricht University (2011-2013). From 2013-2018 doctoral student in the department of Public Health Sciences at the Karolinska Institutet with a research focus on the prevention and societal consequences of childhood obesity. Since 2018 post-doctoral researcher at the Karolinska Institutet. With DIS since 2017.


Course Description

This course focuses on the central concepts of epidemiology and the different study designs available. Students will analyze and assess epidemiological studies of health status in the Swedish population and explore the value of the renowned Swedish population-based registers. Throughout the course, students will discuss how epidemiology contribute to the large body of public health research and inform decision making in the field.


Expected Learning Outcomes

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Define and understand the fundamental concepts of epidemiology
  • Distinguish between types of epidemiological studies, and understand their ‘hierarchy’ with respect to research
  • Calculate and interpret basic measures of occurrence and association and interpret the results
  • Gain an understanding of the unique resources that Swedish health registers represent for epidemiological research
  • Apply epidemiological thinking to critically read and appraise articles in medical literature
  • Analytically asses collection and analysis of data, and evaluate the relevant hypotheses
  • Discuss the public health implications of epidemiological data and research

Teaching Methods

Different teaching formats will be used. The course may be a mix of interactive lectures, class discussions, group work, student presentations and peer feedback. Traditional theoretical knowledge acquisition will be combined with problem-based learning techniques. A major part of the course will be based on debating issues, and students are expected to engage actively in oral presentations, discussions, group work and exercises.

Evaluation and Grading

To be eligible for a passing grade in this class all of the assigned work must be completed.

The factors influencing the final grade and the proportional importance of each factor is shown below:





15 %

Presentation and Report (Group work)

30 %

Individual Presentation

15 %

Midterm Exam (In class)

25 %

Individual Assignment

15 % 


Participation in class requires arriving on time and being prepared in relation to readings and other assignments. Your participation grade reflects the importance of being active in this course, which relies in great part on the reflections, discussions, and exercises in class. Active participation is essential in both the classroom, on study tours, and in group work. Attendance is mandatory.

Group Report and Presentation

As a group, you are expected to prepare a report (max. 20 pages, 1.5 space, font 12) in which they (1) describe the burden of a disease of their choice, (2) outline an epidemiological register-based or register-supported study. In addition you are expected to prepare a 5 min presentation. Report is due 02. May 2019. Further detailed guidelines will be provided in class.

Individual Presentation

You are expected to give a 3 min pitch presentation on a scientific article that applies one of the study designs discussed in the course. The presentation should entail a summary and description of a scientific article of your choice. Further detailed guidelines (including dates of presentation) will be provided in class.

Mid-Term Exam

On 28. February 2019 you will have a mid-term quiz which will cover topics from lectures 1-10.You are allowed to have 1 A4 page of notes with you.

Individual Assignment

You choose/receive a scientific article that you should critically assess applying one of the assessment tools introduced during the course. You are allowed to discuss with your classmates, the report (max. 5 pages, 1.5 space, font 12) has to be written individually and handed in the latest 05. May 2019. Further detailed guideline will be provided in class.

 Detailed assignment descriptions will be made available on Assignments on Canvas and/or in class.

Expectations of Students & Code of Conduct

  • Laptops may be used for note‐taking, fact‐checking, or assignment in the classroom, but only when indicated by the instructor. At all other times laptops and electronic devices should be put away during class time.
  • Reading must be done prior to the class session; a huge part of the class is dependent on discussions in class.
  • Students need to be present and participating to receive full credit. The final grade will be affected by unexcused absences and lack of participation. Remember to be in class on time!
  • Classroom etiquette includes being respectful of other opinions, listening to others and entering a dialogue in a constructive manner.
  • Students are expected to ask relevant questions in regards to the material covered.


Field Studies

Department of Communicable Disease Prevention and Control of Stockholm County: How to respond to a disease outbreak? This is an important question, and epidemiologists can help to answer it. During the field study students will learn about outbreak preparedness and Sweden's strategies in responding to disease outbreaks. 

R Workshop: If not out in the field, the main task of an epidemiologist is to analyze data. Students will receive a hands-on workshop on how to use R. Knowledge of statistical software is essential for epidemiologists. During the workshop students will learn about how to use R for basic data management and analysis.


Academic Regulations  

Please make sure to read the Academic Regulations on the DIS website. There you will find regulations on:

 DIS - Study Abroad in Scandinavia -

 DIS Contacts

Mark Peters, Academic Coordinator, 
Bettina Hornbøll, Science & Health Assistant Program Director,
Susana Dietrich, Science & Health Program Director,

Required Readings

The textbook will be the students’ main reading for the course. Chapters will be assigned for individual lectures. In addition, students will read peer-reviewed scientific articles, which are made available through Canvas. Students are expected to check the calendar. For each calendar event they will find information concerning the readings.


Leon Gordis (2013) Epidemiology 5th Edition, Elsevier

Selected peer-reviewed articles

  1. Sebastian Lundström et al (2015) Autism phenotype versus registered diagnosis in Swedish children: prevalence trends over 10 years in general population samples, BMJ 2015;350:h1961
  2. Murad et al (2016) New Evidence Pyramid, Evid Based Med 2016 21: 125-127
  3. Kuh et al (2013) Life Course Epidemiology, J Epidemiol Community Health 2003 57: 778-783
  4. Thern et al (2016) Long-term effects of youth unemployment on mental health: does an economic crisis make a difference? J Epidemiol Community Health 2017 71: 344-349
  5. Von Elm et al (2007) The Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) Statement Guidelines for Reporting Observational Studies, Epidemiology 18: 800-8004
  6. Maret-Ouda, John, et al (2017). "Nordic registry-based cohort studies: Possibilities and pitfalls when combining Nordic registry data." Scandinavian journal of public health 45.17_suppl: 14-19
  7. Lager, Anton, et al. "Cognitive and emotional outcomes after prolonged education: a quasi-experiment on 320 182 Swedish boys." International journal of epidemiology 46.1 (2016): 303-311.
  8. Hainer & Aldhoon-Hainerova (2013) Obesity Paradox Does Exist, Diabetes Care, Volume 36, Supplement 2, S276- S281

Web resources

Country specific data on the burden of disease in Sweden:

“Rethinking the mammogram guidelines”

Information about the Swedish Registers:

“Do Vaccines Cause Autism? Correlation vs. Causation” (1/2) Do Vaccines Cause Autism? Correlation vs. Causation


Course Summary:

Date Details