The University of Southampton

GLHE6002 Methods and Analysis of Global Health Trends and Differentials

Module Overview

This module provides the core methodological and analytic tools underlying the MSc Global Health. The primary objective is to provide an overview of the conceptual, methodological and empirical basis for quantifying levels of health in individuals and populations, including the construction of a range of different summary measures that combine information on mortality and non-fatal health outcomes. The course aims to give students an understanding of the technical basis for measurement in international work on population health; and to give students an appreciation of the uses and limitations of these methods in policy-making and priority-setting, particularly in developing countries.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

To provide students with an understanding of: • the conceptual underpinnings and historical foundations for measurement of global population health; • key challenges and approaches to collecting data on the levels of individuals on various dimensions of health; • methods for combining multi-dimensional information into measures of overall health-state levels; • types of surveys used to obtain the data needed for computing population health metrics; • relevance of social value choices in the construction of health measures; • alternative types of summary measures of population health and their uses

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Apply the key measurement tools for assessing levels of health and making meaningful comparisons of differentials in health between and within populations
  • Understand the construction of aggregate indices of health from survey data in low and high income countries
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the contribution of ‘objective’ measures of health, including anthropometry and biomarker measures, to understanding patterns of health
  • Appreciate how demographic processes and changes have an impact on population and reproductive health in different regions of the world
  • Appreciate the perspectives and emphases that different academic and professional disciplines place on global health in research, programmes and policies
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding relevant to disciplinary training about the biological, behavioural, genetic, and socio-economic influences on the burden of disease and ill-health in populations; and, on inequalities in health status across and between populations
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the international efforts to measure population health outcomes through analysis of routine and survey data and to be able to describe some of the main strengths and limitations associated with such assessments
  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the data available in population-based cross-sectional and longitudinal studies that can be used to examine the demographic and social determinants and differentials in health across the life course


Topic PART 1: MEASURING HEALTH STATES What is health? Definitions and domains. Sources and measures of disease incidence and prevalence. Asking questions about health and well-being. Measurement scales for health. Summary measures of population health: HALE and PYLL. Health assessments using medical records and biomarkers. SEMINAR 1: Calculating and interpreting the SF-36 Anthropometric measures in children and adults. (NM) Field perspectives on health surveys: the Nairobi Slums studies. (NM) PART 2: RISK FACTORS AND HEALTH The attributable burden of disease: DALYs and other summary measures. Risks, rates and ratios: comparative risk analysis –smoking. COMPUTER LAB 1: Calculating Health-Adjusted Life expectancy. National health surveys, biomarkers and burden of disease studies. Quantification of health risks and multi-morbidity. SEMINAR 2: Quantifying disability – vignettes and disability weights. PART 3: MEASURING THE DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH Measuring the MDGs and SDGs with the GBD framework. Obesity and its correlates in Accra women. COMPUTER LAB 2: Calculating BMIs and links to other outcomes. The socio-economic determinants of health: pathways and the Marmot report. (ZM). Costs, benefits and priority-setting COMPUTER LAB 3: Risk ratios and population-attributable fractions Health-related behaviour changes, nudges and effects. Unsafe sex: exposures, hazards and estimated impact. (NM). Measuring impact: approaches to evaluation including inequality measures. (ZM). Global health comparisons and the effects of ageing. (ZM). Case Study: WHSA, Accra, the WHS and other household studies of health. Revision

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching will be via tutor-led lectures, student-led seminars/computer-based workshops and independent study.

Independent Study74
Total study time100

Resources & Reading list

Ratzan SC, Filerman GL, LeSar JW. (2000). Attaining global health: Challenges and opportunities. Population Bulletin. ,55 , pp. pp.52.

Rockett IRH. (1999). Population and health: An introduction to epidemiology. Population Bulletin. ,54 , pp. pp.48.

Montgomery M. (2009). Urban poverty and health in developing countries. Population Bulletin. ,64 , pp. pp.20.

Crisp N. (2010). Turning the world upside down: The search for global health in the 21st Century. 

Crimmins E, Kim JK, Vasunilashorn S (2010). Biodemography: New approaches to understanding trendsand differences in population health and mortality. Demography. ,47 , pp. S41-S64.

Skolnik R. (2008). Essentials of global health. 

Szreter S (2003). The Population Health Approach in Historical Perspective. American Journal of Public Health.. ,93 , pp. 421-431.

Kathryn H. Jackobsen (2008). Introduction to Global Health. 

Lopez, Alan D., et al. (2006). Global and regional burden of disease and risk factors, 2001: systematic analysis of population health data.. The Lancet. ,367 , pp. 1747-1757.

Wilkinson RG & Pickett KE (2006). Income inequality and population health: A review and explanation of the evidence. Social Science & Medicine.. ,62 , pp. 1768–1784.

Lim SS and others (2012). A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010.. The Lancet. ,380 , pp. 2224–60.

Murray CJL and others (2012). Disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) for 291 diseases and injuries in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet. ,380 , pp. 2197–223.

Kindig, DA, Stoddart G. (2003). What is population health?. American Journal of Public Health. ,93 , pp. 366-369.

Murray CJL and others (2002). Summary Measures of Population Health: Concepts, Ethics, Measurement and Applications. 

Barry B Hughes, Randall Kuhn, Cecilia M. Peterson, Dale S. Rothman & Jose R. Solorzano (2011). Improving Global Health: Patterns of potential human progress Volume 3.. 

The Future of the Public's Health in the 21st Century.

Lindstrand A et al. (2006). Global health: an introductory text book. 

Further useful literature can be found by consulting.

Marmot M & Wilkinson RG (Eds.) (2009). Social Determinants of Health. 

Kindig DA. (2007). Understanding Population Health Terminology. Milbank Quarterly. ,85 , pp. 139-161.

Evans R, Stoddart GC. (1990). Producing Health, Consuming Health Care. Social Science & Medicine. ,33 , pp. 347-1363.

Ewles, L. (2005). Key topics in public health: essential briefings on prevention and health promotions.. 

Koplan JP, Bond TC, Merson MH, Reddy KS, Rodriguez MH, Sewankambo NK, Wasserheit JN; Consortium of Universities for Global Health Executive Board (2009). Towards a common definition of global health.. Lancet. ,373 , pp. 1993-1995.

McDonald JT & Kennedy S (2004). Insights into the ‘healthy immigrant effect’: health status and health service use of immigrants to Canada.. Social Science & Medicine. ,59 , pp. 1613–1627.



MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework  (2500 words) 30%
Exam  (2 hours) 70%


MethodPercentage contribution
Exam  (2 hours) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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