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Problem Solving in Public Health

3rd term
4 credits
Academic Year:
2021 - 2022
Instruction Method:
Asynchronous Online with Some Synchronous Online
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Daniel Barnett

Introduction to Online Learning is required prior to participating in any of the School's Internet-based courses.


Uses divergent public health issues to illustrate a systematic problem solving process for use in addressing public health problems. The problem solving process includes defining the problem, measuring its magnitude, understanding the key determinants, developing a conceptual framework of the relationships between the key determinants, identifying and developing intervention and prevention strategies (either interventions or policies), setting priorities among intervention options, understanding barriers to implementation and evaluation, and developing an effective communication strategy. Consists of lectures, discussions, small-group exercises, a group project, and individual assignments.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Analyze a public health problem and evaluate intervention/policy alternatives using the problem solving methodology
  2. Compare and contrast the utility of the methodology to solve public health problems that emerge at different periods in the life cycle and in different cultures, including: HIV/AIDS, childhood immunization, radioactive iodine exposure and thyroid cancer, unintended injuries and their prevention, obesity prevention, tobacco abuse, screening mammography and breast cancer
  3. Carry out a group project in which student groups will research a specific public health problem, prepare a written report and present their recommendations to the class following the problem-solving methodology
  4. Recognize the complexity of policy development, including a discussion of the politics of public health issues, the roles of interest groups and stakeholders, and the laws and social values that must be woven into successful policies
  5. Integrate human rights and ethical principles into the analysis of public health problems and recommended strategies
  6. Recognize the critical role of communication in public health practice
  7. Work together in multi-disciplinary groups that model the way public health agencies conduct problem-solving activities
  8. Demonstrate critical and analytical thinking by preparing three individual products (a self-assessment of the process, an individual critique of a paper submitted by another group, and a health and human rights assessment)
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 25% Written Assignment(s)
  • 8% Discussion Board
  • 20% Presentation(s)
  • 35% Written report
  • 12% Small group session participation and performance

Enrollment Restriction:

Restricted to part-time MPH students and Training Certificate students

Instructor Consent:

No consent required

Jointly Offered With:
Special Comments:

Prospective students should note that there are several required prerequisite readings and an assignment to be completed prior to the first day of class, and there will be 3 short assignments due within 2 weeks following the last day of class. Please contact the course instructors for further information.