2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Integrating Institutional Theory into Epidemiological Education: A Pathway to Enhancing Disease Causality and Control Strategies

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Douglas Myers


Modern epidemiology plays a crucial role in understanding and controlling the occurrence of diseases. Despite significant advancements in technology and scientific knowledge, there are challenges that continue to hinder its effectiveness as a comprehensive science of public health. For decades some epidemiologists have called for the expansion of epidemiology to include the study of broad societal factors that shape health patterns in addition to individual-level risk factors for disease (Rose, McMichael, Wing). Even contemporary social epidemiology, which acknowledges forces affecting health beyond individual level factors, often neglects the role of macro institutional factors. A more comprehensive approach adds to the social epidemiologic perspective and recognizes broader influences on health in addition to the properties of social variables. It acknowledges that interactions among institutions such as political institutions, religious institutions, and family institutions can shape societal contexts that impact epidemiological outcomes. This research aims to explore the inclusion of institutional theory in epidemiological teaching at the doctoral level. The goal is to identify if institutional theory or similar concepts are being discussed or introduced in these educational settings and materials. By identifying which schools and programs have started educating students on the role of institutions in determining patterns of health outcomes, we can begin to understand the needs of enhancing the teaching of institutional epidemiology to enhance epidemiology's role in the future of public health. This research will contribute to the ongoing development and improvement of epidemiological education, ensuring that future epidemiologists are equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the various factors that influence disease spread and control.

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