Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences

Module Information
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EPI4921  - Observational Research

Period 1: from 11-9-2023 to 27-10-2023
Coordinator: Eussen, S.
ECTS credits: 6
Language of instruction: English

Publication dates timetable/results in the Student Portal

Deadline publication timetable
The date on which the timetable of this module is available: 18-8-2023

Deadline publication final result
The date on which the final grade of this module is available: 17-11-2023

Resit booking

Exam booking for a test in current academic year (resit)
You will be booked automatically for the resit in one of our resit periods. You may check our calenders to find out which modules can be retaken and when: https://intranet.maastrichtuniversity.nl/nl/fhml-studenten/studieverloop/wanneer-wat
As of one week before the resit test takes place, you can check in Student Portal if you are booked correctly: Student Portal > My Courses > More actions. The test will also be visible in your time table.

Exam booking for a test from a previous academic year (exam only)
All students who have not passed the test for this module in a previous academic year, will be booked automatically for the test during the regular block period. You will be enrolled in the new course in Canvas but not scheduled for a tutorial group and other educational activities. If you do not wish to participate in this test at the end of the regular block period please de-register via askFHML.

Resit date: 15-2-2024

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Course information

Description: EN:

Observational research is aimed at studying the occurrence of phenomena that are “naturally” present in the population or society, and characteristics that are associated with these phenomena. Because experimental (intervention) research is not feasible for many relevant health issues, observational research is often needed to answer these questions. This can concern research on cause and effect aimed at (genetic and environmental) factors influencing the etiology or prognosis of diseases, factors that can explain specific behaviour, or descriptive research. Observational research forms the cornerstone of epidemiological research.

This module elaborates theoretical and practical aspects of observational research. Moreover, quantification of a number of methodological phenomena, such as confounding and effect modification will take place. Students will learn to evaluate various observational designs regarding strengths and weaknesses, depending on the setting where these designs are being applied.

By means of lectures, exercises and skills training sessions attention will be paid to the following aspects: Observational research designs and their advantages and disadvantages: case-control studies, cohort studies, nested case-control and case-cohort designs, correlation study, cross-sectional research; Choosing among designs; Exposure measurement in observational research and potential misclassification; Sources of bias in various designs: selection bias, confounding and information bias. Illustration and quantification of these terms in different designs, and ways to deal with bias; Stratified and matched analyses; Effect modification and statistical analysis procedures; Causal reasoning and causal diagrams; Application of these analysis techniques in different observational research designs; Reporting guidelines for observational research.

Students who register are requested to work on a practical assignment regarding statistical analyses using an existing dataset, in addition to intensive course participation. The course will be concluded with a written test.

Goals: EN:
  • Principles and practice of observational studies
  • Designs for etiologic and prognostic epidemiologic research
  • Hybrid designs: Nested case-control studies + case-cohort studies
  • Selection bias, information bias (misclassification) and confounding
  • Matching, stratified analysis, Mantel-Haenszel testing, standardization
  • Evaluation of effect modification (interaction)
  • Causal inference, causal diagrams, principles of causal reasoning
  • Reporting of observational studies in epidemiology: STROBE
Key words: EN:
Cohort study Case-control study Nested case-control study Case-cohort study Selection bias Confounding Interaction Matching Stratified analysis Causal diagrams
Literature: This is the link to Keylinks, our online reference list.  
Teaching methods:
  • Assignment(s)
  • Work in workgroup(s)
  • Lecture(s)
  • Paper(s)
  • Problem Based Learning
  • Training(s)
Assessments methods:
  • Assignment
  • Attendance
  • Written exam

This page was last modified on:13-4-2023
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