PHH2141 - Analysing patterns of health and disease - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.


Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

Organisational Unit

South Africa School of Health Sciences



Unit guides


South Africa

  • First semester 2017 (Day)


This unit provides an introduction to epidemiological and statistical concepts necessary for understanding patterns of health and disease in populations. It extends the overview provided in PHH1061, reviewing how health and disease are measured, and how patterns of health and disease in populations are investigated. Students are introduced to different study designs, analysing and interpreting health data and the concepts of bias and confounding. Case studies include local, national and global examples of epidemiological research.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

  1. Critically analyse the strengths and weaknesses of different epidemiological study designs.
  2. Critically appraise the popular and biomedical literature on population health.
  3. Identify fundamental ethical considerations that underpin health research.
  4. Identify the importance of statistical methods in the design, analysis and presentation of the results of research studies in health and biomedicine, and in reports of health related matters in general.
  5. Explain basic statistical methods and when to apply them.
  6. Interpret statistical results presented in the biomedical literature and other media, and convey the interpretation in simple language.
  7. Identify different approaches to the nature of 'evidence' in public health and the implications of such approaches for the measurement of health and well-being of indigenous and other population groups.


  • 2 x In-class tests (45 minutes each) (10% each) (20%)
  • Written assignment (1,500 words) (15%)
  • Written assignment (1,500 words) (20%)
  • Group presentation (15 minutes) (15%)
  • Written exam (2 hours) (30%)

Hurdle: 80% attendance at tutorials.

Workload requirements

3 contact hours per week PLUS 9 hours of private study hours per week.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study

Health science


HSC1061 or PHH1061.