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Course descriptions

Day 1 and 2: Advanced topics in pharmacoepidemiology

Monday-Tuesday, 17-18 June 2019, 8.30am-4.00pm

Professor M. Alan Brookhart, PhD

In this two-day course, we will review fundamental analytic approaches based on the new user design and propensity score methods that can be used to estimate causal effects of medical interventions using non-experimental data. The remainder of this course will focus on extending this basic study paradigm to settings with competing risks, selection bias, dependent censoring, and multiple treatment groups. We will illustrate how this expanded set of tools permits one to answer a wide range of additional questions, such as estimating the effect of medication adherence and time-dependent treatment protocols. We will also demonstrate how the results from such analyses can be graphically depicted.

Prerequisites and preparation

There are no prerequisites, but students will be expected to read several articles in advance of the course.


Meet Prof. Brookhart here

Day 3: Self-controlled study designs

Wednesday, 19 June 2019, 8.30am-4.00pm

Professor Ian Douglas, BSc, MSc, PhD 

Amongst many ways to account for confounding in observational studies, self-controlled methods have been gaining popularity over recent years. Designs such as the self-controlled case series and the case cross-over make comparisons within individuals, and remove the need to account for between person differences.

This course is designed to introduce the self-controlled case series and case cross-over designs to participants. We will explore both methods, their underlying assumptions, and some examples of their application.

Participants will have an opportunity to gain practical experience in conducting analyses for both study designs and will gain experience in thinking through self-controlled design features in small group discussions. The analytical part of the course will involve the use of Stata and will form ~ a quarter of the course.

Prerequisites and preparation

A small amount of pre-course reading material will be circulated to participants, and it is assumed that participants are already familiar with basic epidemiological study design (e.g. cohort and case control designs) and the statistics underpinning them.


Meet Prof. Douglas here

Day 4: Perinatal and reproductive pharmacoepidemiology

Thursday, 20 June 2019, 8.30am-4.00pm

Professor Irene Petersen, MSc, PGCert, P. Grad Dip, PhD & Professor Vera Ehrenstein, MPH, DSc

This course is designed to describe unique challenges and current thinking related to studying effects of medication use during pregnancy. We will look at the reincarnation and impact of selection bias, information bias and confounding, especially confounding by indication.

Topics/elements/study designs covered include exposure definition and comparators, confounding by indication, triangulation, sibling design. At least one-third of the time will be dedicated to group work.

Prerequisites and preparation

Participants are expected to have conducted epidemiologic studies and be familiar with basic epidemiologic concepts (study designs, measures of occurrence and association, and main sources of systematic error: selection bias, information bias, confounding).

No programming beyond use of basic Excel functions will be used. Students may be asked to read 1-2 papers distributed ahead of the course.


Meet Prof. Ehrenstein here and Prof. Petersen here

Day 5: Reporting our research using routinely-collected health data better- introducing STROBE, RECORD and RECORD-PE

Friday, 21 June 2019, 8.30am-12.00 noon (half day)

Professor Sinead Langan, FRCP, MSc, PhD 

This course is designed to introduce attendees to important recent reporting guidelines for pharmacoepidemiology: STROBE, RECORD and RECORD-PE.

Topics will include introducing important aspects authors should cover in published papers to enable readers to fully assess whether they should believe the findings. Participants will have an opportunity to review published pharmacoepidemiology papers to identify reporting that was clear and transparent and reports where the reader cannot assess the validity of the findings.

Prerequisites and preparation

Participants will be sent a selection of papers to read as pre-course preparation – these will be discussed in the second half of the session.


Meet Prof. Langan here