Data science in public health: building next generation capacity

by   Nicholas Mirin, et al.

Rapidly evolving technology, data and analytic landscapes are permeating many fields and professions. In public health, the need for data science skills including data literacy is particularly prominent given both the potential of novel data types and analysis methods to fill gaps in existing public health research and intervention practices, as well as the potential of such data or methods to perpetuate or augment health disparities. Through a review of public health courses and programs at the top 10 U.S. and globally ranked schools of public health, this article summarizes existing educational efforts in public health data science. These existing practices serve to inform efforts for broadening such curricula to further schools and populations. Data science ethics course offerings are also examined in context of assessing how population health principles can be blended into training across levels of data involvement to augment the traditional core of public health curricula. Parallel findings from domestic and international 'outside the classroom' training programs are also synthesized to advance approaches for increasing diversity in public health data science. Based on these program reviews and their synthesis, a four-point formula is distilled for furthering public health data science education efforts, toward development of a critical and inclusive mass of practitioners with fluency to leverage data to advance goals of public health and improve quality of life in the digital age.


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