Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Epidemiology, Public Health and Qualitative Methodology

Epidemiology, Public Health and Qualitative Methodology
Main language of instruction: English

Other languages of instruction: Catalan, Spanish

Teaching staff

Lecturer: Adrián González (agonzalezm@uic.es)

Contact by email to request an in-person class.


The dental profession is not only significant in terms of the provision of services at the individual level, but also the work of the dentist at the population level can have a major relevance. Dentistry as a science plays an important role within the broad and complex universe of public health because of the influence of oral health on health as a whole. For this reason, public dental health is a specialty recognized by different associations, such as the American Dental Association. Moreover, dentists are explicitly recognized within the "One Health" initiative, a widespread and multidisciplinary movement that brings together professionals of diverse fields in public health.

In this context, the dentist must be familiar with the main concepts of public health as well as the transversal methodologies that govern this discipline, such as biostatistics and epidemiology. While the former will be seen as an independent subject in the Master’s, in this subject we will analyze the basic principles of epidemiology.

Finally, the course ends with an approach to qualitative methodology, which has become very popular in many disciplines of Health Sciences, including dentistry.

Pre-course requirements



  1. To understand the general aspects that govern public health and the specific ones of the dental profession within the framework of public health.
  2. To understand the basic principles of epidemiology, including the most important epidemiological designs, as well as measures of frequency, association and impact.
  3. To approach qualitative research and its applications in dentistry.

Competences/Learning outcomes of the degree programme

  • CB10 - Acquire learning skills that allow them to continue studying in a self-directed and autonomous mode.
  • CB6 - Knowledge and understanding to provide a basis or opportunity for originality in developing and / or applying ideas in a research context.
  • CB7 - To apply the acquired knowledge, and develop their ability to solve problems in new environments within broader (or multidisciplinary) contexts related to their field of study.
  • CB8 - Integrate knowledge and deals with the complexity of formulate judgments based on scientific evidence, from information that may be incomplete or limited, include reflecting on social and ethical responsibilities linked to the application of their knowledge and judgments.
  • CE5 - Knowing how to communicate the results of scientific research paper, poster or oral presentation both scientific and academic format.
  • CG1 - Ability to integrate new knowledge through research and study, and deal with complexity
  • CG3 - Self learning ability in the development of new techniques, in the knowledge of new scientific concepts and in the search of new scientific information

Learning outcomes of the subject

On completing this subject, the student should:

  1. Know what public health is, the main, related concepts and strategies and the strategies that can be applied in public health in the context of dentistry.
  2. Know what epidemiology is, the most relevant study designs in epidemiology, including their strengths and weaknesses, and be able to interpret and calculate the main measures of frequency, association, and impact.
  3. Know what qualitative methodology is, what the main data collection techniques are and what applications qualitative methodology can have in dentistry.


1. Introduction to public health

            Concept of health. Illness-wellness continuum. Natural history of disease.

            Concept of public health. Strategies for action in public health: protection and promotion of health and prevention of disease.

            Levels of prevention: primordial, primary, secondary, tertiary and quaternary prevention. The prevention paradox. The "dark side" of prevention.

            Determinants of health. Multi-level model of the determinants of health. 

            Main health problems in the world.

            Public health in the context of dentistry. Dental public health.

2. Introduction to epidemiology

            Concept of epidemiology. The history of modern epidemiology: from John Snow to Doll & Hill.

            Measures of frequency, association and impact: calculation and interpretation.

            Types of epidemiological studies. Strengths and weaknesses.

3. Introduction to qualitative research

            Concept of qualitative research. Qualitative research vs. quantitative research.

            Data collection in qualitative methodology: conversation, observation and documentary methods.

            Qualitative methodology in the context of dentistry.

Teaching and learning activities


The materials for this online Master’s will be available on the Moodle platform. They will primarily be presentations in PDF format that will include the assessable contents of the program.

In addition, other interesting resources (mainly articles from scientific journals) will be posted which can be useful to understand more easily certain concepts or ideas.

Evaluation systems and criteria


Each of the three topics in which the subject is divided will be assessed by means of:

  1. An assignment related to the content of the topic. It can be performed in Spanish, Catalan or English. 75% of the final mark of the topic.
  2. A test. 25% of the final mark of the topic.

The total score of each subject (task + test) will represent one third of the final mark of the course. That is, the three topics are all worth the same.

All six activities of the course must be completed (three tasks and three questionnaires).

You will be informed on the Moodle platform of the deadlines for submitting the tasks and the specific dates on which the questionnaires are available. No assignments will be accepted beyond the deadline.

Bibliography and resources

Although the evaluable content will be the one that uploaded for each lesson in the slides, there are other very interesting resources related to the subject: 


  • Books:

Basic Epidemiology.

Book edited by WHO that, as the title says, addresses the basic aspects of epidemiology. However, it is very didactic. Recommended chapters 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6.


Essential dental public health.

A Textbook of Public Health Dentistry.

The strength of this book is not so much the general part, but the specific ones of dental public health. You have to be selective with reading.


In Spanish:

Medicina preventiva y salud pública (Piédrola).

It is probably the most important public health manual published in Spanish.

Manual de epidemiología y salud pública para grados en ciencias de la salud de Hernández-Aguado y Lumbreras.

Although at a more basic level, it is a reference manual in public health.


  • Journals:

Journal of Public Health Dentistry.

It should be a mandatory periodic visit for any researcher in community dentistry.