Week 5: Epidemiologic Applications, Part 1

A healthy environment is fundamental to life, and attention to the effects of the environment on human health is essential if we are to achieve the goal of health for all.

—Naomi Higenbottam, RN, The Luminary Project: Nurses Lighting the Way to Environmental Health

A wide range of environmental agents affect human health, from noise pollution to air and water quality to possible food contamination in a restaurant, home, or grocery store. Nurses engaged in advanced practice need to be aware of those agents in the environment that can have an impact on the health and well being of individuals and populations.

Equally important are the genetic factors that also influence health and wellness. Advances in the identification of disease-linked genes has improved both individual and population health. Recognizing patterns of inherited diseases and understanding how genes interact with the environment to cause disease are requisite skills for DNP-prepared nurses.

This week, you will explore environmental and genetic factors that influence population health and may result in health disparities in populations. Finally, you will explore how these factors may influence the population health problem you selected for Major Assessment 7.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

· Evaluate environmental agents and genetic factors associated with population health effects

· Propose ways in which environmental or genetic factors may result in health disparities in populations


Learning Resources

Required Readings

Friis, R. H., & Sellers, T. A. (2021). Epidemiology for public health practice (6th ed.). Jones & Bartlett.

  • Chapter 13, “Epidemiologic      Aspects of Work and the Environment”

Chapter 13 examines the impact of the environment on human health in populations as determined through the use of epidemiologic methods.

  • Chapter 14, “Molecular and      Genetic Epidemiology”

In Chapter 14, the authors address molecular and genetic epidemiology, rapidly growing areas of this field.

Hill, A. B. (1965). The environment and disease: Association or causation? Proceedings of the Royal Society of Medicine, 58(5), 295–300. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1898525/pdf/procrsmed00196-0010.pdf


In this landmark contribution, Sir Austin Bradford Hill delineated a series of criteria for evaluating whether an observed association between an exposure and an outcome should be considered causal.

Hines, A. B. (2011). Asthma: A health disparity among African American children: The impact and implications for pediatric nurses. Journal of Pediatric Nursing, 26(1), 25–33.

In this article, the author examines asthma, the most common chronic illness among children, and notes that this health issue is particularly relevant for pediatric nurses. The author addresses the significant health disparity for African-American children and their families.

Quansah, R., & Jaakkola, J. J. (2010). Occupational exposures and adverse pregnancy outcomes among nurses: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Women’s Health, 19(10), 1851-1862.

Quansah, R., & Jaakkola, J. J. (2010). Occupational exposures and adverse pregnancy outcomes among nurses: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Journal of Women’s Health, 19(10), 1851-1862.
Synthesizing epidemiological evidence, the authors of this article examine the association between occupational exposures and adverse pregnancy outcomes for those working in the nursing profession.

Vieira, V. M., Hart, J. E., Webster, T. F., Weinberg, J., Puett, R., Laden, F., Costenbader, K. H., & Karlson, E. W. (2010). Association between residences in U.S. northern latitudes and rheumatoid arthritis: A spatial analysis of the Nurses’ Health Study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(7), 957–961.

The authors of this article utilize spatial analysis to visualize geographic variation in rheumatoid arthritis risk—a method, they note, that is particularly useful for generating hypotheses for further investigation and supporting existing hypotheses.

Required Media

Laureate Education (Producer). (2012). Epidemiology and population health: Epidemiologic applications: Environmental and genetic factors [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Note: The approximate length of this media piece is 7 minutes.

In this week’s program, the presenters discuss the influence of environmental and genetic factors on population health.

Accessible player  –Downloads– Download Video w/CC Download Audio Download Transcript

Optional Resources

Rothman, K. J., & Greenland, S. (2005). Causation and causal inference in epidemiology. American Journal of Public Health, 95(Suppl. 1), S144–S150.


Discussion: Environmental and Genetic Factors That Influence Health

In Le Roy, New York, in 2011, a mysterious medical condition emerged: Several teenage girls suddenly began to exhibit symptoms similar to those of Tourette’s Syndrome, including involuntary twitches, movements, and sounds. Soon after, the number of individuals experiencing comparable symptoms increased. As media attention toward the situation grew, questions and concerns intensified about the origin of this condition. Did an environmental exposure trigger this? Was it the result of an infectious disease? If so, why were some people in the region affected and not others? In other words, could genetic factors play a role in this?

This week, you have been exploring a number of environmental and genetic factors that influence population health. Understanding how environmental and genetic factors influence populations will support your work as an advanced practice nurse. Therefore, for this Discussion, you will investigate the relationship between an environmental agent or genetic factor and a population health problem. You will also give attention to health disparities that may arise within a population because of environment or genetics.

To prepare:

· Review the Learning Resources, and select one environmental agent or one genetic factor and an associated population health problem. For example, you might consider lead paint and its effect on children, air pollution and its effect on individuals with asthma, genetic associations of various cancers, etc.

· Conduct additional research using the Walden Library and credible websites, reviewing the literature on your selected health problem and the relevant environmental agent or genetic factor.

· Explore health data resources and determine morbidity, mortality, incidence, prevalence, exposures, and costs to society as they relate to your chosen environmental agent or genetic factor.

· How might your chosen environmental or genetic factor result in health disparities in populations?

By Day 3

Post a cohesive scholarly response that addresses the following:

· Identify the environmental agent or genetic factor that you selected and the population health problem with which it is associated.

· Evaluate the significance of the health risk resulting from your selected environmental agent or genetic factor, discussing such aspects as morbidity, mortality, incidence, prevalence, exposures, and costs to society. Support your response with references and data.

· How might the environmental or genetic factor you identified result in health disparities in populations?

Write 2 pages in APA and cite 4 sources of the given sources

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