142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Epidemiology Education Student-led assessment of household disaster preparedness

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Jeffrey Bethel, PhD , College of Public Health and Human Sciences, School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR

Applied aspects of epidemiology courses are an important tool to enhance student learning.  Disaster Epidemiology is an emerging discipline and students in the Oregon State University, Master of Public Health (MPH) Program were offered a course in disaster epidemiology, in which students completed an applied project. The objectives of the class project were: 1) for students gain hands on experience in conducting a Community Assessment for Public Health Emergency Response (CASPER) and; 2) to describe the preparedness of residents in college town.


Students developed a 2-page questionnaire based on existing questionnaires and input from local experts. Using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) CASPER guidelines, students also developed and implemented a 2-stage cluster sampling scheme to identify eligible households in the community. Students were trained in interview techniques, record keeping, safety, communication, data management and data analysis.  Paired with undergraduate public health students, 15 teams of 2 students approached 210 households among 30 clusters (i.e. census blocks) over one weekend in November 2013. Data from completed surveys were entered into Epi Info and the data were cleaned, coded, and analyzed. Students generated a final report per CDC CASPER guidelines.


Qualitative feedback from students included: 1) worthwhile applied, student-led project; 2) enjoyed being paired with undergraduate students to conduct interviews; 3) conducting personal interviews is extremely difficult; 4) 2 days of data collection on a weekend was problematic; and 5) writing final report was a useful culminating experience in the course.


An applied, student-led class project among MPH students was a valuable tool to teach applied epidemiologic methods typically used pre- and post-disasters. Data collection schedule may need to be adjusted to accommodate students’ schedules.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Identify process of engaging students to lead an applied experience in a graduate-level epidemiology course; Identify strengths of this particular applied course experience.

Keyword(s): Epidemiology, Teaching

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have taught epidemiology to undergraduate students, graduate students, medical students, and medical residents. In addition, my research area is in disaster epidemiology.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.