School of Public Health

EPI 506 Surveillance Systems And Decision Making In Public Health

EPI 506 Surveillance Systems And Decision Making In Public Health (2)

This course will introduce students to public health surveillance systems and decision-making based on surveillance data. A range of surveillance system types will be covered (e.g. foodborne illness, newborn screening, lead, emerging infectious diseases). Credit/no-credit only.

Line Number Section ID Credits Days/Times Room/Bldg Instructor
This course is not offered during the current quarter. For more info, please see the Epidemiology Course Planning Sheet at the link below.
For a complete listing of Epidemiology courses, their elective categories, and when they are typically offered, please see the Epidemiology Course Planning Sheet

Additional Course Details

The course will provide an introduction to public health surveillance and the investigative and policy decisions that are made using surveillance data.  The course will cover a range of surveillance and decision making topics, from emerging infectious diseases to elevated blood lead to shellfish industry regulation.

Topics Covered

  • Intro to the Washington public health system, including hot topics from the State Health Officer and State Epidemiologists
  • Surveillance and decision making for animal diseases of public health significance (featuring Washington State Department of Agriculture staff)
  • Surveillance for and actions regarding opioid use
  • Surveillance for and actions taken using a variety of data including mortality, hospitalization, Healthy Youth Survey and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and more
  • Surveillance and decision making regarding American Indian/Alaska Native health featuring the Urban Indian Health Institute 
  • Surveillance of population health and social disparities using the Accountable Community of Health Medicaid Demonstration as a local example
  • Surveillance and decision making for healthcare associated infections and other communicable disease topics
  • Surveillance and actions regarding pesticide related illness 
  • How molecular epidemiology is used to solve outbreaks and understand disease 

Learning Objectives

The goal of this course is to provide public health graduate students with the background and skills needed to understand the purpose and utility of public health surveillance systems, how those systems are designed, developed and used, and how surveillance data are used to further investigative and policy decisions in applied public health.


  • Define surveillance and describe its purpose in public health
  • Describe surveillance system development
  • Design surveillance systems, apply algorithms and develop data collection strategies
  • Describe various surveillance systems in public health
  • Analyze and interpret surveillance data
  • Understand how surveillance data are used to drive decision making about population health

Course Format

Each class will feature a lecture on that day’s surveillance and decision making topic from Washington State Department of Health, Washington State Department of Agriculture and/or local health jurisdiction staff, with class discussion focused on best practices in designing and developing surveillance systems and methods for interpreting and using surveillance data.

How You Are Evaluated

This course is credit/no credit and is ungraded. However, students are expected to complete all course readings and assignments in order to receive credit. In order to receive credit, students must complete all five of the homework assignments as well as participate in class. Class participation will be evaluated via students writing a one paragraph essay as a response to each class, and posting this paragraph to Canvas each week after class. 

Contact the Instructor

Janet Baseman (
Department of Epidemiology

Vivian Hawkins (
course coordinator, Washington State Department of Health
Washington State Department of Health
Washington State Department of Agriculture and local health jurisdiction staff