Epidemiological Methods

This module, follows on from the core introductory double module in principles of mental health research, extending student's knowledge and practical skills in epidemiological methods, clinical trial methodology, and qualitative research methods.

Taking this module is very much recommended for students who are considering a PhD and/or a research career in epidemiological, social and/or applied clinical research in mental health.

Module Leaders

David Osborn

Professor David Osborn 

David Osborn is a Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology at UCL. His clinical work is as a Consultant Psychiatrist in a crisis resolution team and a crisis house in Camden. His main academic expertise is on the interface between physical and mental health. Over the last decade he has published a wide range of research relating to cardiovascular disease in people with severe mental illness, and has evaluated interventions to improve screening for cardiovascular risk. Currently he is leading the Primrose Study, a national programme of research aimed at improving cardiovascular outcomes for people with severe mental health problems in primary care.

James Kirkbride

Dr James Kirkbride

Dr James Kirkbride is a psychiatric epidemiologist with a background in social science. His lab, PsyLife, aims to investigate the social determinants of psychosis at multiple levels of causation across the life course. He is particularly interested in understanding how our social, built and physical environments can affect the risk of psychosis, and why migrants and their descendants show elevated rates of psychotic disorder.

Joe Hayes

Dr Joe Hayes 

Joe Hayes is a Medical Research Council Population Health Scientist Fellow in the Division of Psychiatry. His research interests are in trials and observational studies of psychotic illnesses. He is particularly interested in the potential for large electronic databases of patient records to further our understanding of life course effects of mental health problems. He is currently completing a PhD investigating the long-term outcomes for people with bipolar affective disorder using electronic health records.

Francesca Solmi

Dr Francesca Solmi

Module Contents

The following will be included, with teaching following on from the introductory teaching in the Core Module in Mental Health Research:

  • Measurement instruments in mental health: approaches to evaluating psychometric properties and selecting instruments.
  • Challenges in mental health epidemiology: defining cases, assessing the potential roles of chance, bias and confounding.
  • Psychiatric epidemiology of populations: calculation and interpretation of incidence, prevalence and other fundamental concepts.
  • Concepts in social epidemiology: use and interpretation of concepts such as ethnic group, socio-economic status and deprivation.
  • Major designs in psychiatric epidemiology: ecological, cross-sectional, case control and cohort studies.

Learning Outcomes

The intended learning outcomes are:

  • Students will be able to analyse epidemiological studies in terms of the likelihood of causal relationships and the potential roles of chance, bias and confounding.
  • Students will be able to describe appropriate strategies for measuring incidence and prevalence in populations, including standardization.
  • Students will be familiar with the main concepts of social epidemiology including deprivation and socio-economic status, and will be able to comment on the uses and limitations of these comments in mental health research.
  • Students will be able to describe the features and variants of cross-sectional, case control and cohort study designs, to give examples of these and to outline protocols based on them.
  • Students will be able to analyse the quality of individually randomized controlled trials, and to describe the features of and indications for major variants such as clustered trials and patient preference trials.
  • Students will be able to describe major types of qualitative design used in mental health research, and to develop outline protocols based on these.
  • Students will be able to draft interview guides for qualitative interview studies.
  • Students will be familiar with a variety of approaches to analyzing qualitative data, and will be able to discuss their uses and the use of qualitative analysis software in mental health research.