5 Areas of Research for a Public Health Student

A student studying public health can specialize in communicable diseases, the social effects of various health conditions, nutritional deficiencies, chronic diseases and environmental toxins. Moreover, many learners study epidemiology, which is a field that focuses on long-term analyses, experiments and statistical trends that are related to health. Epidemiology also allows students to establish correlations and to determine the consequences of causal inference, selection bias, random error and information bias. Below are five areas where an MPH student can focus their research efforts through their course of study.

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Infectious Diseases

A student may evaluate the prevalence of certain communicable diseases, determine the overall symptoms of each infection and analyze the duration of a disease's effects. Many learners also examine maps that indicate the percentage of each area's residents who may be affected by particular infectious diseases every year. Furthermore, the student can study lists of factors that can increase an individual's susceptibility to bacterial infections, and some of these may include a weakened immune system, chronic sleep deprivation and anemia.

Students can also study effective treatments and natural remedies for bacterial infections. Consequently, they may examine a medication's side effects, the duration of a treatment and the cost of the remedy.

Environmental Toxins

While studying environmental health, a student may analyze the long-term effects of numerous toxins, such as lead, cadmium, substances that could increase oxidation, dioxins, asbestos, volatile organic compounds and a large amount of iron. Many courses also offer information about substances that are found in common products, and the classes may indicate how the compounds affect a person's levels of hormones, the respiratory system, the skin and the digestive system.

Students commonly examine the health of individuals who live near a large number of factories, facilities that primarily utilize coal and cities that have high levels of smog. Moreover, some students conduct studies that compare the health of residents who commonly visit forested areas to the health of individuals who rarely leave cities that have high levels of pollution.

Evaluating Deficiencies

If a student specializes in nutritional deficiencies, the individual will study the effects of vitamin D, ascorbic acid, vitamin E, zinc, magnesium, niacin, vitamin B12 and retinol. The student can evaluate the long-term impact of moderate deficiencies, which may not cause noticeable symptoms for more than five years. This field's courses might also indicate the levels of vitamins that are found in particular products and the health of populations that regularly consume foods that have large amounts of certain minerals.

Epidemiology and Biostatistics

If an individual specializes in epidemiology, the learner may regularly conduct extensive analyses that test the effectiveness of various medications, determine the general health of a region's population, calculate the percentage of an area's residents who commonly exercise and determine the average lifespan of a region's inhabitants. The studies will allow physicians to identify trends that affect health and factors that increase the prevalence of particular conditions.

Students might examine outbreaks that have occurred and research the effectiveness of a municipality's response to each epidemic. While evaluating various diseases, a pupil will also utilize the biological gradient, which allows researchers to determine the effects of regular exposure to a pathogen.

Chronic Diseases

When a student specializes in chronic diseases, the learner will study the causes of diabetes, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis and osteoporosis. Numerous classes will be related to common treatments for the conditions and environmental factors that may augment the risk of certain chronic diseases.

Numerous reports have indicated that heart disease and hypertension may affect more adults than other chronic conditions, so several courses will likely be dedicated to the symptoms of high blood pressure and conditions that are related to the heart. The learners will evaluate techniques that can substantially reduce the likelihood of heart disease and will learn facts about effective medications, such as anticoagulants, beta blockers, statins and compounds that are derived from niacin.

According to numerous analyses, the overall demand for experts who specialize in public health is rising rapidly due to increases in the population, the rising prevalence of noncommunicable diseases, the development of new medications and increasing awareness of environmental toxins. After studying public health, specialists have an average income of more than $49,000, and an epidemiologist's yearly earnings typically exceed $69,400. If an expert primarily studied chronic diseases, the specialist will likely have an annual income of at least $81,000.

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