MA Social Work (Mental Health and Public Health)

HMH- 5 - Introduction to Epidemiology

June 20 - August 22, 2015

Often called "the cornerstone” of public health, epidemiology is the study of the distribution and determinants of diseases, health conditions, or events among populations and the application of that study to control health problems. By applying the concepts learned in this course to current public health problems and issues, students will  understand the practice of epidemiology as it relates to real life and makes for a better appreciation of public health programs and policies.

This course is intended to be the introductory course for students who are majoring in Social Work in Public Health and Mental Health and is divided into 4 primary sections. The first section will serve as an introduction to the basic principles of epidemiology and the measures used in epidemiology. The second section will discuss epidemiologic study design (including case-control, cohort studies) and analysis (including bias, confounding, effect modification). The third section will cover special topics that are important to an introductory understanding of epidemiology (including outbreak investigations, screening, and the role of epidemiology in public health. Section 4 will deal with mental health epidemiology.

  1. Basic Principles and Measures in Epidemiology (4 hrs in one session) 20th June, 2015

    1. History of Epidemiology and Public Health

    2. Dynamics of Disease Transmission and occurrence of non-communicable diseases

    3. Measures of disease occurrence (incidence and prevalence) and validating screening tests

    4. Measurement of morbidity and mortality

  2. Epidemiological Study Design ( 8 hrs in 2 sessions of 4 hours each) 27th June 2015 & 4th July, 2015

    1. Overview of study designs & their hierarchy

    2. Cross-sectional & Case Control studies

    3. Cohort study

    4. Clinical Trials & Field Trials

  3. Challenges in designing studies (4 hrs in one session) 11th and 25th July

    1. Bias, Confounders and interaction

    2. Sample size estimation

    3. Role of genetic and environmental determinants in disease causation & progression

    4. Ethical issues

    4. Use of Epidemiology (8 hrs in 2 sessions ) 1st August and 8th August 2015

    1. Understanding causality

    2. Natural history of a disease

    3. Principles of Prevention and Control of diseases

    4. Surveillance

    5. Outbreak investigation

    6. How to read original articles in journals ( 2 hrs)

5. Epidemiology of Mental Health (1 session of 6 hours each) 22nd August 2015

Methodology: The course includes lectures, review of epidemiological research and discussions

Reading material:

Epidemiology, Leon Gordis (Fifth Edition)

Basic Epidemiology (Second Edition) Soft copies of both texts already provided to students


Course Teacher:

Prof. Sundararaman

Social Action and Advocacy in the field of Health

Rationale: Health for a long time has been viewed as a personal issue - something that has been influenced by personal behaviour, habits, lifestyle, etc. Health work therefore has traditionally been considered an area of social service, of charitable work and there have been many philantropic, charitable hospitals and programmes serving the poor . However, historical experience and scientific evidence shows that the health of communties and populations are influenced by factors which operate at a level broader than personal - even beyond what are defined as social determinants of health like nutrition, sanitation and environment. The availability of medical care, prices and policies related to essential drugs, socially prevalent concepts of health also have a bearing on people's health.

In India more than 10 million people in India are pushed below poverty line because of unaffordable health care expenditure on account of hospitalization. Sub standard and costly health care characterize the private sector and the lack of good quality, accessible care are major weaknesses of the public health care system Over the years, the emerging political economy of life and health has seen profit emerge as its prime mover and driving force, with the consequence that research in the life and biomedical sciences, the delivery of health care and health care itself over time become increasingly subordinated to private interest. New markets and new (private) forms of organizations of the delivery of health services have turned health care into a highly profitable logic and privitization of health care or private management of public health services is an overpowering reality.

Those who oppose the dominant power structures find similar hegemonic forces operate in the health sphere too - medical profession, drug industry, health bureaucracy. The convential system perpetuate an ideology of victim - blaming on technocratic, top down solutions which exclude many and take away their agency.To decisively improve the health of communties, the appropriate approach would be to address these issues through collective action to further the the goal of making conditions more conducive to health. Health as a right has to be made a relevant issue and integrated with other issues on the social agenda and other human rights...

Learner objectives : At the end of the course the students will

  1. develop a critical understanding of the right to health and health care

  2. develop an understanding of concepts, principles, strategies, tactics related to social action and their application to the field of health

  3. be able to critically examine certain health movements / advocacy efforts in relation to their contexts, debates, stakeholders , strategies, successes, limitations and failures.

  4. develop basic skills on how to design an advocacy project, prepare a media brief, how to use constitutional, legal frameworks and international instruments for advocacy, analyse health budgets, design and implement an advocacy intiative in the field of health.


  1. Lectures

  2. Readings and discussion

  3. Mini skill workshops

  4. Films

Assignment 1- (50%) RTI

Developing a Media Brief

Assignment 2: (50%) A critique of the Draft Health Policy 2015 to be send to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare

Course Schedule

Session No.






June 18, 2015


Introduction to the Course

Establishing a contract

Brinelle D'souza


June 25 , 2015

2- 5pm

Social Action - Concept, Principles , strategies, tactics and models and their application to the field of health

Brinelle D'souza


July 2, 2014


The Right to Health and Health Care

Brinelle Dsouza


July 9, 2015


Social Movements and Health Movements

The Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

Brinelle Ds'ouza


July 16, 2015

2- 5pm

The struggle against decriminalization - LGBT movement and section 377

Ashok Row Kavi/ Chayanika Shah/ Ketki Ranade


July 23, 2015

2- 5pm

Patents , FTAs and Access to Medicines

Leena/Kajal Bharadwaj Meghaney


July 30, 2015


Role of Media in Social Action and Advocacy - A workshop

Yogesh Pawar


August 6, 2015

2- 5pm

Unravelling budgets for advocacy

Ravi Duggal


August 13 , 2014

2- 5pm

Mental Health Activism in India

Ketki Ranade


August 20, 2015


Right to Information Act 2005

Designing an Advocacy Project

Brinelle D'souza



The WHO Watch

David Legge, La Trobbe University through Skype

Reading material: The articles being given to you for each class comprise the essential readings


  1. Lectures

  2. Readings and discussion

  3. Mini skill workshops

  4. Films

Lecture No.





  • Introduction to the course - Rationale, Objectives and Content

  • Film - Health Matters

  • The Making of Health Policy - Process, Politics and Power Part 1


23rd June


The Making of Health Policy - Process, Politics and Power Part II


30th June


A Review of Health Policy Making in India - context and processes


7th July


National Health Policy 1984, National Health Policy 2002, National Health Bill – 2009


14th July



National Population Policy


21st July


Health Financing in India


28th July


Impact of international health policies and aid paradigm on domestic health policies


4th August


National Pharmaceutical Policy


11th August


Gender , Health Policy and Legislation


18th August

For long, community health had been seen as the preserve of medical professionals, who
specialise in preventive and social medicine. Of late, newer disciplines such as health
management and public health have emerged. Social workers must find their own place in
this complex of specialties and domains of expertise. Given their professional skill set, social
workers are best placed to design, implement and manage those aspects of community health
which require, on the one hand, involvement with the community and groups, and on the
other hand, engagement with the health system, particularly in its interface with people/users.
Social workers with a specialised knowledge of community health are also well placed to
design, implement and manage complex interventions, which have a significant component
of social change.
Apart from defining the role of social work in community health, it is also important to orient
students to the new turn towards evidence-based practice. The application of systematic
evaluation and experimental designs to time-bound interventions has become an increasingly
dominant feature of community health practice. A critical understanding as well as skills for
evidence based practice are essential for students.
Finally, social workers are professionals and their involvement in community health must be
guided by the framework of law as well as the framework of ethics. Therefore, the course
must endeavour to impart to them the skills of ethical analysis and application of law in
community health.

Course Summary

Theories of Communication and Application in the Field of Health is a 2 credit course. The course aims to teach students theories widely used in health communication and its application in the field of public health. In addition to learning about some of the predominant behavior and cognitive theories, the course will also bring in alternate frameworks used in community settings to empower, educate, disseminate, change and inform health behaviors.

Course Objectives

1. Develop an understanding on some of the widely used theories, models, and concepts in the field of health communication 
2. Learn the application of the communication theories to educate, empower, disseminate, change and inform health behaviors and direct effective health policies and programs 
3. Learn strategies for designing effective health communication messages
4. Learn the role of health communication in reducing health disparities and increasing accessibility and affordability of health care and services
5. Learn the steps of designing an effective communication strategy. Students may want to refer to the workshop conducted on designing effective health interventions as a prelude to this class

We will use a variety of instructional methods to address these objectives, including lectures, class presentations, videos etc. The success of the course will depend heavily upon active participation by the students, so you are strongly encouraged to feel free to present your ideas and to listen respectfully to the ideas of others.

COURSE OVERVIEW:  This is a required social and behavioural sciences course offered by the Center for Health and Mental Health. The course provides an overview of the disciplines in social sciences. It focuses on the importance of an interdisciplinary approach to studying health and health services in India. There are three major aims for this course: (1) To explore the contribution of the various social and behavioural science theories and methods to the health-illness experience (2) The second aim is to promote an appreciation for the role of the diverse social and behavioural sciences, and (3) to develop a working knowledge of the various methodologies used by each of the disciplines.


  1. To introduce students to the basic concepts and theories from various disciplines like medical sociology, medical anthropology, psychology, geography, economics, social epidemiology
  2. To enable students to use various frameworks given by various discipline to understand and evaluate the health issues in the field.
  3. To enable students to develop holistic perspective in health.
  4. To enable students to appreciate interdisciplinary approach in health care in the field of social work.
  5. To enable students to critically evaluate the contributions made by various disciplines

We will use a variety of instructional methods to address these objectives, including lectures, class presentations, weekly reflection papers and in-class participation.  The success of the course will depend heavily upon active participation by the students, so you are strongly encouraged to feel free to present your ideas and to listen respectfully to the ideas of others.