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Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Contact: Paul Jung
Email: PHSdoc@gmail.com

Course last offered: Fall 2001

Page last updated:
November 7, 2008


Course Syllabus
Research-Based Health Activism Class

This class is designed to teach students to combine scientifically robust research methods with advocacy efforts in order to generate substantive change in health care policy and delivery.

The first session will be an introduction to the topic and the course.  Subsequent sessions will involve conceiving, developing, and finalizing a research protocol.  We will conduct in-class reviews of student protocols as they evolve in order to strengthen the protocols and stimulate class discussion.  We will also intertwine skill-building sessions with guest speaker sessions.  Skill-building sessions will specifically address a research methodology topic, whereas guest speaker sessions will provide real-world examples of research-based activism to encourage and inspire the students.

At the completion of the course, students will have a 5-page written research protocol that may serve as the basis for future research projects eligible for academic credit.  Faculty at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Medicine and Public Health will be mentors to students during the course and in subsequent semesters for those students who wish to carry out their protocols.

Our proposed schedule is as follows:

Week

Topic

Guest Speaker/Facilitator

Due

1

Introduction/Orientation

 

 

 

Physician Activism

Peter Lurie, MD

 

2

History of US Healthcare

Paul Jung, MD

 

 

What’s My Research Question?

 

 

3

Defining My Research Question

 

First Draft

 

 

 

 

4

Literature Search

Welch Library Staff

 

 

Defining My Research Question

 

 

5

Questionnaire Design

 

 

 

Sample Size and Basic Statistics

Peter Lurie, MD

 

6

Protocol Review

 

Next Draft

 

 

 

 

7

Science v. Politics

Leon Gordis, MD, DrPH

 

 

Informal Protocol Review

 

 

8

Health Advocacy – An Overview

Susan DeFrancesco, JD, MPH

 

 

Informal Protocol Review

 

 

9

Protocol Review 2

 

Next Draft

 

 

 

 

10

Health Advocacy – Case Study

Vinnie DeMarco, JD

 

 

Informal Protocol Review

 

 

11

How to Give a Presentation

Wendy Sanders

 

 

Informal Protocol Review

 

 

12

Final Presentations

 

Final Protocol Due

 

 

 

 

Session 1: Orientation/Introduction & Physician Activism

Speakers:   Peter Lurie

Guests: All faculty (see end of document) will be invited.

In-Class: This will be a well-publicized event with pizza, with the goal of inspiring students to become active and involved (and participate in the class), reviewing the purpose and structure of the course, and providing examples of research-based activism in health care.  After a short introduction of faculty and the course by the course directors, Peter Lurie will give a presentation on Physician Activism and the work done by Public Citizen. 

Session 2

1st Hour: History of US Healthcare

Speaker: Paul Jung

In-Class: This presentation will provide an historical overview of the US health care system and how physician and student activism can produce results.

2nd Hour: What’s My Research Question?

In-Class: After the guest speaker, students will be asked to write a short paragraph about their research question.  This will get students to commit to paper their ideas and begin honing their    specific project into a well-defined project.  It will also help us determine the general interests of each    student so that we can encourage group work (preferably groups of two students). 

Homework: Students will refine their question over the next week.


Session 3 – Defining the Research Question - **Preliminary Draft Due**

Facilitator: Paul Jung, Dick Humphrey & Todd Varness

In-Class:  In this session, students will learn how to define a research question & how to develop a research protocol.  This will be a highly interactive session where we will present a topic and then work with the students to identify a particular well-phrased research question, suggested methodology for answering the question, etc.  Possible topics include drug costs and pricing, resident work hours.  The discussion in this session will show the students exactly how a research question can be refined, and this skill will be applied to each student’s research question with other students acting as “reviewers.”  Through this discussion, students will learn to identify a research question and better understand the nature of their goal for the course.  A handout with examples of protocols will be distributed to the students.  

Homework: Students will be asked to refine their question over the next week and begin to develop the outline of their full research protocol.  Brief drafts of a few pages in length will be presented in writing in future sessions.

Readings: Hulley chapters 1-2, 17

Session 4

1st Hour: Literature Search

Facilitator: Welch Library Staff

In-Class: Demonstrate use of MEDLINE for conducting a literature review, and understand the   “background” section of a research paper.

2nd Hour: Basic Study Types

Facilitators: Paul Jung, Dick Humphrey & Todd Varness

In-Class: Review different basic study types (case-control, cohort, randomized trial).

Homework: Students will incorporate the skills learned in this session into their written protocol. 

Readings: Hulley chapters 7-8, 11

Session 5

1st Hour: Questionnaire Design

Facilitators: Paul Jung, Dick Humphrey & Todd Varness

In-Class: Review fundamentals of questionnaire design, review actual sample questionnaires.

2nd Hour: Sample Size/Basic Biostatistics

Facilitators: Peter Lurie

In-Class: Review basic statistics used in studies to determine appropriate sample size, understand various statistical methods of analyzing study data.

Homework: Students will incorporate the skills learned in this session into their written protocol.  Drafts of written protocols (with a background bibliography) will be due at the next session.

Readings: Hulley chapters 5, 10, 12-13

Session 6 – Protocol Review - **Next Draft Due**

Facilitators: Paul Jung, Dick Humphrey & Todd Varness

In-Class: Each student or group of students will present their protocol, both in writing and verbally.  Students will take turns providing feedback and suggestions for improving the protocols. 

Homework: Incorporate the critiques and suggestions provided in this session into the next draft of the written protocol.

Session 7 – Guest Lecturer

First Hour:

Speaker: Leon Gordis, MD, DrPH, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

In-Class:  To re-energize the students and give a concrete example of research-based activism, Dr. Gordis will present his experience with mammography recommendations, which is a great example of the interface of politics and science.

Second Hour:

Facilitator: Leon Gordis, MD, DrPH, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

In-Class: Some students will volunteer to present their protocols to Dr. Gordis.  We will go through their proposals and critique the research idea as well as the methods. 

Homework:  Continue to refine protocols.

Session 8 – Skills Session and Project Review

First Hour:  Skills Session

Speaker: Susan DeFrancesco, JD, MPH, Center for Injury Research and Policy, JHSPH

In-Class: Susan will provide an overview of health advocacy strategies and tactics, including working with communities, handling the opposition, and other practical tips.  She will provide real-world examples from her experience in injury prevention advocacy at the national, state, and local levels.

Second Hour:  Project Review

Facilitators: Paul Jung, Dick Humphrey & Todd Varness

In-Class: Each group of students will present their ideas for their protocol, and then get feedback from the other students and instructors.  We will go through each group’s proposal and critique the research idea as well as the methods. 

Homework: Next drafts will be submitted in writing at the next session.

Session 9 – Protocol Review - **Next Draft Due**

Facilitators: Paul Jung, Dick Humphrey & Todd Varness

In-Class: Each student or group of students will present their protocol, both in writing and verbally.  Students will take turns providing feedback and suggestions for improving the protocols. 

Homework:Incorporate the critiques and suggestions provided in this session into the next draft of the written protocol.
Session 10 – Guest Lecturer

1st Hour:

Speaker: Vinny DeMarco, JD, Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative

In-Class:  Former Assistant Attorney General for Maryland, Vinny has extensive “hands-on” experience as a lobbyist and advocate for a number of issues, such as gun control, tobacco control, and health care.

Second Hour:

Facilitator: Vinny DeMarco, JD, Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative

In-Class: A group whose proposal might be of interest to Vinnie will present their protocol to Mr. DeMarco, who can then comment on issues of dissemination and influencing policy. 

Homework:  Incorporate the critiques and suggestions provided in this session into the next draft of the written protocol.

Session 11 – Public Speaking and Project Review

Facilitator: Wendy Sanders, Professional Development Office

In-Class: Students will learn the skills to give a 10-minute presentation in various situations, to various audiences, for various purposes.  Students will also have a chance to practice their presentations and receive feedback from Wendy and the group.

Homework: Final drafts will be submitted in writing at the next session.

Session 12 –  *Final Protocols Due*

Facilitators: Paul Jung, Dick Humphrey & Todd Varness

In-Class: Each group of students will give a short presentation on their research protocol, with overheads.  Students will use this experience to develop their presentation skills and further refine their research protocols.

Homework: Carry out research protocol and make positive, substantive change!

Course Directors:

Todd Varness, student, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and School of Public Health

Dick Humphrey, MD, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Paul Jung, MD, Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, Johns Hopkins University

Required Text:

Hulley SB, Cummings SR, et al. Designing Clinical Research: An Epidemiologic Approach. 2001.

Invited Faculty Mentors:

Leon Gordis, MD, DrPH, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Department of Epidemiology, Physician and Society Course Director

Vinny DeMarco, JD, Maryland Citizen’s Health Initiative

Barbara Starfield, MD, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Expert in Primary Care and International health care comparisons

Susan DeFrancesco, JD, MPH, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Expert in childhood injury prevention

Instructor in course focusing on the use of advocacy tools to influence public health policy

Alan Langlieb, MD, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Psychiatrist working on mental health outcomes

Mark Farfel, ScD, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
Director, Lead Poisoning Program at Johns Hopkins Hospital

Thomas O’Toole, MD, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Director, Urban Health Initiative

Other faculty members will be recruited based on student interests
and research topics.