Link to transcript of video

In this module we will establish fundamental concepts utilized in the quantitative disciplines in public health and establish a foundation that will enable you to ask research questions and evaluate data in a structured way. One of the fundamental goals of the quantitative disciplines in population health is to identify and quantify associations between potentially relevant health exposures and health outcomes. "Exposures" will be conceptualized broadly to include everything from genetic factors to social determinants of health such as poverty and race. "Health outcomes" will also be conceptualized broadly to include not only disease, but also injury, mental health, and promotion of health. We will begin to explore relationships between exposures and health outcomes and introduce the concepts of association and causation.

To apply our learning, we will discuss the MMR vaccine (measles, mumps, and rubella) and the implications for population health when the notion of causality is miscommunicated, either by accident or by design. 

Essential Questions

  1. Why are quantitative methods important for my career? What is a population?
  2. How do we study populations? What is a sample?
  3. How do we think about exposures and health outcomes from a public health perspective?
  4. How do we know when an exposure causes a health outcome?

Learning Objectives

After completing this section, you will be able to:


  1. Wakefield AJ, et al. 1998. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. The Lancet, 351 (637V641). *SKIM for main ideas*
  2.  Godlee, F. et al. 2011. Wakefield's article linking autism and MMR was fraudulent. BMJ, 342:c7452
  3. "Revealed: MMR Research Scandal", 2/22/2004, The Sunday Times.