This online course will address two important topics in causal epidemiologic research, namely confounding and effect modification. These topics will be discussed in the context of both etiologic research and observational intervention research. Effect modification and confounding are difficult concepts to understand and often mixed up. In this course the theory as well as the practical side of these issues will be discussed.
One particular problem in causal research is that the observed relation between a determinant and an outcome is attributed to that determinant, while in fact the observed relation should be attributed to another variable. This form of bias, often referred to as confounding, is central in this course. Other sources of bias, notably missing data and measurement error are not addressed in detail.
Epidemiological research often focuses on quantifying the relationship between a treatment, risk factor, or exposure and health outcomes. The treatment, exposure or risk factor is often referred to as the determinant. The motive of a researcher is often to find out whether the observed relation between the determinant and the outcome is causal. This course deals with this type of research.
At the end of the course, you’ll should be able to:
• understand the concept of confounding
• understand the different methods to determine whether there is confounding and to adjust for confounding, and is able to apply these methods in a computer practice
• understand more advanced methods to adjust for confounding namely propensity score method and instrumental variable method, and is able to apply these methods in a computer practice
• understand the usefulness of sensitivity analysis to estimate the impact of unmeasured confounding, and is able to apply these methods in a computer practice
• understand the concept of effect modification
• understand the difference between effect modification on an additive and a multiplicative scale and is able to calculate effect modification, and its confidence interval, on an additive and a multiplicative scale by hand and by computer
• understand the different ways to present effect modification in a paper and can derive information on effect modification from published studies
• understand the difference between effect modification and confounding
To successfully complete this course, you need to actively participate in the discussion forums and complete the final exam. You are allowed to redo the final exam once. The exams are, by default, online using online proctoring. If you wish to take the exam on-site in Utrecht, the Netherlands, this is possible as well.
Exam edition April 2023
The exam will take place on April 21th, 2023 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. The re-examination will take place on June 2th, 2023 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. Note: these times might be subject to change. The exact time and place will be announced as soon as possible in the learning environment and any changes announced there will overrule the information here.
Exam edition April 2024
The exam will take place on April 26th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. The re-examination will take place on June 14th, 2024 from 14:15 – 16:15 CET. Note: these times might be subject to change. The exact time and place will be announced as soon as possible in the learning environment and any changes announced there will overrule the information here.
It might be that, due to a force majeure situation, you cannot be present during the first exam moment.
• MSc Epidemiology Postgraduate students must then, preferably prior to the first exam option, ask the academic counsellor for permission to be absent. Please note that the academic counsellor can ask for some form of proof of your absence (e.g. in case of illness) to establish if you are applicable for authorized absence. Jaco de Fockert-Koefoed, MSc is the academic counsellor you need to turn to through firstname.lastname@example.org.
• All other participants should contact the MSc Epidemiology Office instead, through MSc-Epidemiology@umcutrecht.nl.
In short, as of now, it is no longer possible to skip the first deadline option and -automatically- enroll in the second (re-sit) exam. Missing the first deadline results in no longer being able to finish the course that college year.