Epidemiology on the Internet

  E-mail forums Web sites

E-mail forums

As in most other fields, the World Wide Web (WWW) and other Internet facilities have rapidly emerged as a major resource for epidemiologists. The following list has been compiled from various sources, including a resource list prepared by Jean Blackwell of the UNC Health Sciences Library.

Epidemiology discussion forum - you can subscribe to Epidemiol-L, where epidemiologists send questions, announcements, and other messages to each other in an open, public forum with about 800 subscribers (as of 2004). Participation is international and uneven (some people send lots of messages, most send none; some institutions are well-represented, most apparently not at all). Joining the list can be an excellent way to ask questions, read or participate in discussions on methodologic topics, pick up useful tips and information, ask for help and references, and “feel connected". The list is maintained by Dr. Pierre Phillippe and Hassan Soubhi at the University of Montreal. Information in English et en français is available at www.listes.umontreal.ca/wws/info/epidemio-l. An archive of postings is available at www.listes.umontreal.ca/wws/arc/epidemio-l

Similar lists exist for almost every other area you can imagine. Another list of relevance for epidemiologists is STAT-L. To subscribe, send the message subscribe stat-L with your first and last name to listserv@vm1.mcgill.ca.

Note to Internet neophytes: lists such as the ones mentioned here are automated. Epidemio-L and Stat-L are unmoderated, which means that messages are posted automatically. Some lists are moderated, in which case the list owner reviews messages and then posts them. LISTPROC, LISTSERV, and MAJORDOMO are the names of software packages that handle e-mail list functions. You will receive information about other commands after you subscribe. Save this information so that you'll know how to unsubscribe and/or suspend your subscription when you go on vacation. Commands must be sent to the computer program (e.g., listproc, listserv, minhlth-request). In contrast, messages intended for subscribers are sent to the list address (which appears as the heading of messages you receive from the list - often the computer does not show the originator's address, so if you want subscribers to know who sent the message and how to contact you, be sure to include your name and e-mail address).

There are many, many lists. For example, the Division of Reproductive Health at the CDC has a list for persons interested in perinatal, pediatric, and reproductive epidemiology. This list is moderated, and anonymous or long postings are not distributed. For information about subscribing to this and other CDC lists, send a message consisting of the word "help" (without the quotation marks) to lists@list.cdc.gov.

The primary access method for electronic information for epidemiologists is the Web, which includes the capability for audio, graphics, and video. Many epidemiology-related organizations have "webpages", with more coming on line every day.

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Web sites

Here are a few handfuls of sites among the millions(?) out there.

Internationally-oriented sites

World Health Organization (WHO) (www.who.org)
The WHO Statistical Information System (WHOSIS) at www.who.int/whosis/#topics describes and provides access to statistical and epidemiological data and information available from the World Health Organization and elsewhere in electronic or other forms. Includes "Health-for-All Global Indicators" and "European Health-for-All." Information for the public, including fact sheets on over 140 public health topics, is provided by the Information Office at www.who.int/inf. A major WHO unit, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) (WWW-DEP.IARC.FR/dephome.htm), is the best source for Global cancer data (WWW-DEP.IARC.FR/dataava/infodata.htm). The HINARI Access to Research Initiative is a WHO initiative to enable developing country researchers to gain access to one of the world's largest collections of biomedical and health literature.

Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) (www.paho.org) (españól/English)
PAHO has a bilingual web site with health data for the Americas, information about its publications, and an on-line version of the Epidemiological Bulletin

Population Reference Bureau (PRB) (www.prb.org) has data, charts, and links to demographic data for all countries of the world

World Resources Institute (WRI) (www.wri.org)

Global Health Council - membership alliance dedicated to improving health worldwide.

Global Health Network at the University of Pittsburgh (www.pitt.edu/HOME/GHNet/GHNet.html - case matters!) is attempting to provide referrals to EVERYTHING in international and public health. (Be sure to use upper and lower case as shown.) Information is available in Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, German, Chinese, Turkish & Taiwanese. The Supercourse: epidemiology, the Internet and global health offers a free library of over 3,500 lectures in 26 languages used all over the world. (Note: the Supercourse website has somewhat intrusive pop-up ads.)

U.S. federal agencies

Transagency statistics and funding information

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - www.os.dhhs.gov

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (www.cdc.gov)
CDC also has a Spanish language site, CDC en español.

Full text articles from the MMWR, Emerging Infectious Diseases, public information on diseases, prevention guidelines, traveling, publications, health statistics, funding opportunities, employment, and information sources.

CDC WONDER (wonder.cdc.gov)

Public health data sets to search, including mortality, SEER, and vital statistics data. It also allows communication with the CDC staff.

The CDC EXCITE! program has an on-line Glossary of Epidemiology Terms

National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) (www.cdc.gov/nchswww)
This CDC agency is the primary federal organization responsible for the collection, analyses, and dissemination of health statistics. Users can browse the publications and statistical tables, download selected public-use data files, conduct on-line database queries and searches in Wonder, track progress toward Healthy People 2000 Objectives, or access FASTATS from A-Z.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) - www.nih.gov

National Cancer Institute (NCI) - www.nci.nih.gov

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) - www.niehs.nih.gov

National Library of Medicine - www.nlm.nih.gov

Office of Research Integrity - http://ori.dhhs.gov

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) - www.ahcpr.gov (formerly Agency for Health Care Policy and Research)

U.S. Health Care Financing Administration - www.ssa.gov/hcfa/hcfahp2.html

North Carolina-oriented sites

NC government information via the UNC Institute of Government - ncinfo.iog.unc.edu

State of North Carolina - Public Information - www.sips.state.nc.us/nchome.html

North Carolina State Center for Health Statistics (SCHS) (www.schs.state.nc.us/SCHS)

Compiles state health data and records and analyses of important health issues, such as birth defects and infant mortality statistics. Central collection site for information about cancer, immunizations, births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. A subset of their health and vital statistics summaries are available on their web site. Public-use Vital Statistics Data Files themselves are available from the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science at UNC-CH (go to: www.irss.unc.edu/ncvital/). The Odum Institute also has data from NCHS, private polling organizations, and numerous other sources.

North Carolina county profiles –www.ospl.state.nc.us/ospl/cnty-indx.html

North Carolina Center for Public Health Preparedness has an extensive collection of bibliographic and audio training resources, including FOCUS on Field Epidemiology, a periodical offering a hands-on approach to outbreak investigation.

Certificate in Field Epidemiology is a 12-credit hour program of study that addresses outbreak investigation, surveillance systems and methods, infectious disease epidemiology, and field epidemiology methods.

Other health-related sites

HealthWeb - Public Health (www.lib.umich.edu/hw/public.health.html)

A collaborative effort between the Public Health Library, the School of Public Health, and the HealthWeb project at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. Within each topic area there are links to organizations, electronic publications, research and educational resources.

Partners in Information Access for Public Health Professionals (www.nnlm.nlm.nih.gov/partners)
A collaborative project (ASTHO, CDC, HSRA, NACCHO, and NLM) to provide public health professionals with timely, convenient access to information resources to help them improve the health of the American public.

Minority Health Resource Center (www.omhrc.gov)

Minority Health Project (MHP) (www.minority.unc.edu)

Program for Monitoring Emerging Diseases (ProMED) (www.fas.org/promed)
Project of the Federation of American Scientists to identify scientific and medical assets worldwide and to suggest how these assets may be effectively used for sentinel surveillance. ProMED-mail provides a global communications network for reporting disease outbreaks.
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) (www.igc.apc.org/nrdc)

Environmental Research Foundation (Fundación para Investigaciones Ambientales)

"News and resources for environmental justice. Providing understandable scientific information about human health and the environment." Has a weekly bulletin and on-line library. Bilingual (Spanish)

China Education and Research Network (CERNET) - www.cernet.edu.cn

Some sites have emerged as especially comprehensive nodes for epidemiologists. Several of these are:

The web site of the University of California at San Francisco Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (www.epibiostat.ucsf.edu/epidem/epidem.html) has been characterized by Pierre Phillippe (list manager for EPIDEMIO-L) as "a fantastic compendium of all what one would have always wanted to know of information available in epidemiology".

www.epimonitor.net, sponsored by the Epidemiology Monitor (see Journals) is a new site whose vision is to be "the online home and community for epidemiologists".

www.ph.ucla.edu/epi/snow.html   Maintained by Ralph Frerichs at the University of California at Los Angeles Department of Epidemiology, this site is devoted to the life and times of Dr. John Snow (1813-1858), a legendary figure in the history of public health, epidemiology, and anesthesiology".

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Comprehensive Epidemiology Data Resource Program (CEDR) makes available analytic data sets, working data sets, and associated documentation files from the Health and Mortality Study of the DOE work force and related studies conducted during the past 30 years. As the CEDR Program matures, other types of data useful for epidemiologic and health surveillance activities will be added, including data from Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's (LBL's) Socio-Economic Environmental Demographic Information System (SEEDIS), such as census data, geographic base map files, mortality and cancer incidence data, and ecologic summary data. In addition, the CEDR website has links to a vast array of other epidemiology resources, including the tables of contents for the Epidemiology Monitor and some epidemiology journals. Try going to the Comprehensive Epidemiologic Data Resource Reference Desk at: cedr.lbl.gov/CEDRReferenceDesk.html

National Library of Medicine MEDLINE plus Health Information (www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus) provides access to extensive information about specific diseases and conditions and also has links to consumer health information from the National Institutes of Health, dictionaries, lists of hospitals and physicians, health information in Spanish and other languages, and clinical trials.

Alfredo Morabia’s History of Epidemiology site includes several resources and announcements plus the papers from a 1996 symposium in Annecy, France on the history of epidemiologic methods and concepts.

The New York Academy of Medicine (www.nyam.org) has a many links to sources of medical including links to PubMed (and how to use it), other national databases, electronic journals, and much more. A key page is at http://www.nyam.org/library/medinfo.html

The Cochrane Collaboration (www.cochrane.org) is an "international organisation that prepares, maintains and promotes the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare interventions.

Evidence-based Medicine Resource Center (www.ebmny.org), maintained jointly by the New York Academy of Medicine Library and the American College of Physicians, NY Chapter

The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) (www.icpsr.umich.edu), located within the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan, has the world's largest archive of computerized social science data. The catalog, including abstracts and codebooks, is open to the public. Member institutions can also gain access to the data. If you're designing a questionnaire, this is probably a good place to look.

Free Resources for Program Evaluation and Social Research Methods lists free resources for methods in evaluation and social research. The focus is on "how-to" do evaluation research and the methods used: surveys, focus groups, sampling, interviews, and other methods. Most of these links are to resources that can be read over the web.

Survey data analysis software (www.fas.harvard.edu/~stats/survey-soft/survey-soft.html) describes available software packages for analyzing data from surveys using complex sampling designs and has online reviews of the issues and the packages.

OnlineConversion provides a reference guide and on-line calculator for converting between measurement units of apparently all varieties (featured in Science Magazine 21 Dec 2001;294: p2435)

AuthorAID (for researchers in developing countries) provides a community space for discussion, questions, and advice; information on best practices in writing and publication; training workshops on scientific writing; networking opportunities; and personal mentoring.

Where to go from here?

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Professional societies and newsletters
Epidemiology in languages other than English
Other books of interest
To epidemiolog.net home page
Minority health-related links

Victor J. Schoenbach, 3/6/2008, 11/11/2008, 4/4/2009