Course Descriptions

For up-to-date information on courses offered in the Health Policy, Management & Behavior program, please check the University at Albany's course listing.

HPM 500 Health Care Organization, Delivery and Financing (3)
Introduction to health care policy and services; arrangements for organizing, delivering, paying for, and financing health care are examined with attention to their rationale, implementation, and effectiveness. Government interventions to ensure access, cost containment and quality are assessed and policy alternatives are considered. Prerequisite: graduate standing

HPM 501 (ECO 509) Health Policy Analysis (3)
This course introduces students to policy analysis by examining issues in the health sector. It fosters an appreciation of the complexity of policy problems and the policy making process and provides the basic tools used in policy design, implementation and evaluation. Prerequisite: HPM500

HPM 503 (EPI 503) Principles of Public Health (3)
Introduction to the basic principles of public health and their application to the development of activities that benefit the health status of populations. The skills of epidemiology, biostatistics, health care planning and policy development, health care administration, and community organization are applied to the assessment of public health needs and the development of prevention and control initiatives. This course is for students in the P.M.R. track only.

HPM 511 (ECO 511, PAD 503) Economic Analysis for Health Policy and Management I (3)
This course is an inroduction to the field of health economics. Health economics is an active field of microeconomics with a large and growing literature. This course will combine economic theory, recent research, and current health reform and policy problems into a comprehensive overview of the field.

HPM 514 (EPI 514) Computer Programming for Data Management and Analysis in Public Health (3)
The course covers a major statistical computer program (e.g., SAS) used for the management, analysis and reporting of public health data. Topics include, how to access data stored in a variety of formats; techniques for identifying errors and outliers in data sets; combining data from multiple sources into a single data file; calculating statistical and epidemiologic measures; and report writing.

HPM 520 Fundamentals of Research Design (3)
This course introduces students to the steps involved in designing and critiquing social science research relevant to public health. Topics include translating a curiosity into a researchable question and testable hypotheses, the logic of different modes of inquiry, choosing appropriate study designs and samples, measuring phenomena of interest, analyzing data and interpreting results, as well as principles of research ethics. Prerequisites: STA/EPI552 or equivalent

HPM 521/421 Preventing Disease, Disability and Premature Death (3)
This course discusses the major health behaviors and demographic factors that lead to death, disease and disability throughout the lifespan. It describes policies and programs that address those underlying causes of ill health and provides a framework for developing strategies for promoting health and wellness.

HPM 525 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Public Health (3)
This course provides an introduction to the role of social, cultural, psychological, and behavioral factors in determining the health of populations. Students will: gain understanding of the significance of social, cultural, psychological, and behavioral factors in relation to health status and well-being; learn to analyze public health problems in terms of the social, psychological, cultural, economic, and demographic factors that contribute to or protect from vulnerability to disease, disability, and death; and improve their ability to apply social science theory, research, and principals to the critical analysis of the appropriateness of public health interventions. Prerequisites: graduate standing

HPM 527 Introduction to Gerontology (3)
This course provides an overview of the field of gerontology and discusses the demography and epidemiology of aging, aging theories, salient perspectives of gerontology, and issues related to older women and long-term care services.  In this course, students will learn how important concepts, theories, population dynamics, disease prevalence, functional limitation and disability can be used to understand, analyze, organize information and data for making health policy, management, and financing decisions.

HPM 528 Managing Long-Term Care Services 
This course aims at analyzing the essential components of the long-term care (LTC) continuum, with attention devoted to demographics of aging, roles of financing and evolving marketplace, and programs designed to serve aging populations. A framework for studying LTC continuum is introduced and used to identify opportunities for interventions.

HPM 530 Introduction to Maternal and Child Health (3)
This course examines issues relating to women’s health during the childbearing years, children’s health from birth to adolescence, and the interconnectedness of family members’ health status (including fathers).  The first half of the course focuses on historical and social factors that impact on children’s health. The latter half of the course adopts a lifespan approach and reviews factors impacting on children’s health at each developmental stage. Specific topics include: (1) the history and structure of maternal and child health (MCH) in the US; (2) ethnic, racial and SES disparities in MCH; (3) women’s health and preconception care; (4) family health; (5) perinatal, prenatal, and postnatal care; and (6) children’s health during infancy, childhood, and adolescence.

HPM 531 Childhood Obesity from a Public Health Perspective (3)
This course will examine the epidemic of obesity, particularly childhood obesity, and how various behavioral and environmental factors place children at risk of becoming overweight. Sources of influence that will be examined include: children’s nutritional and physical activity behaviors, the family environment, the school environment, and community characteristics such as fast food restaurants and access to safe walking and bicycling paths. In addition, this course will examine ethnic and socioeconomic differences in the prevalence of obesity and its predictors among children and adolescents. At its conclusion, this course will examine obesity prevention programs and their effectiveness. Prerequisites: graduate standing

HPM 533 Adolescent Health (3)
This course will examine the primary causes of morbidity and mortality in the U.S. adolescent population, highlight the policies and programs designed to improve the health and wellness of this population, and detail the innovative asset-based and Positive Youth Development approaches to adolescent health and wellness promotion.

HPM 535 Community Based Public Health
The goal of this course is to learn a community based perspective of public health and health promotion, stressing an understanding of social determinants of health.  The course will include readings about the importance of working with diverse communities, concepts and best strategies for assessing community assets and needs, as well as approaches for community based public health interventions and strategies for collaborating with community members to improve the health of the community.  Some topics that will be covered include; coalition building, community assessment approaches, community health workers, social capital, empowerment, and participatory health promotion approaches.  The course is geared for students who are interested in working at community based organizations, government agencies, advocacy organizations, and in community based research.

HPM 550/BUS681 Financial Management of Healthcare Institutions (3)
This course covers significant issues in the areas of working capital management, capital financing, cost analysis and rate setting, budgeting, reimbursement, managed care contracting, and cost controls. The course has been developed to maximize student opportunities for independent analysis, development of PC-based problem solving applications, and in-class discussion and evaluation of pertinent financial issues and problems. An emphasis is placed on uses of information generated through accounting and financial management systems to control operations in health care organizations. To promote such understanding, students receive problem oriented assignments and examinations in which they can apply knowledge and reasoning techniques gained from this and other courses to reach logical decisions that would effectively control operations in the simulated exercises.

HPM561 (COM560) Health Communication (3)
This course provides an introductory survey of health communication research and provides foundation for further study in more specialized health communication contexts. The course takes an ecological (i.e., multi-level, interdependent) approach to examining communication about health in contexts including interpersonal communication (e.g., patient-provider communication, family communication about health), organizational communication (e.g., communication within and between health-care organizations, and communication on the part of healthcare organizations with stakeholders), and mediated communication (e.g., public health campaigns, direct-to-consumer advertising).

HPM 569 (COM670) Health Literacy: Patients, Organizations, and Societies (3)
In a society where the health system has grown increasingly complex and difficult to navigate, and where people may have instant access to information from multiple sources, health literacy has become a major issue. It impacts the individuals' communication with their health providers, communication among health and human services providers that serve diverse ethnic populations, but also the development of public health and health communication campaigns and interventions targeted towards increasingly diverse communities. This course is designed to introduce students to the concept of health literacy, the significance of health literacy as a determinant of health outcomes, the measures developed to assess health literacy, and the multiple factors that shape health literacy.

HPM 570 International Health Economics (3)
This course is designed to introduce basic economic theories, concepts, and tools and apply them specifically to the health care sector under a variety of contexts. In this course, the structure, organization, activities, functions, and problems of health and medical care are considered from a specific point of view-that of an economist. This economic point of view is based on three fundamental observations: resources are scarce relative to wants; resources have alternative uses, making choice necessary; and unique solutions may not exist, since there are significant variations in the relative importance that people in society attach to wants. Therefore the basic economic problem then becomes how to allocate scarce resources so as to satisfy best human wants (individual and/or societal). The purpose of this course is to enhance the ability to use the theories, concepts, and tools of economic analysis to evaluate, systematically, the features, utilization patterns, delivery mechanisms of the health care system, to ensure that more efficient and equitable allocation decisions are attained. This analysis focuses on a variety of health care systems and how the governmental role in these systems varies in the corrections in the market and in the provision and consumption of health care services.

HPM 580 Health Information Technology (3)
This course examines the application of information technology in the health care industry. It will explore the role of healthcare professionals in managing technology-based healthcare systems and services. The course will consider a wide range of technology applications- from enterprise application systems such as customer relationship management systems, clinical application systems like CPOE (Computerized Physician Order Entry), EMR (Electronic Medical Records), to current trends in e-health and web technologies such as online health communities and telemedicine. The course will also examine how these technologies enable the health care industry to manage its information and knowledge resources most effectively to deliver superior services to its customers. The course will also address the need for organizational changes in today’s healthcare system to better adopt and utilize these new technologies. Overall, this course will aim to enhance the health care professional’s understanding of how new technologies shape and redefine the healthcare market place and the quality of services.

HPM 586 Health and Human Rights: an Interdisciplinary Approach (3)
This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to health and human rights and the contemporary challenges and solutions associated with them. The course will be taught by physicians and human rights champions with guest lectures from experts in public health, philosophy, social welfare, law, gender studies, public administration, and the United nations, among others. Through lectures, discussion, and case studies, students will develop a broad theoretical understanding of health as a human right, become familiar with legal and policy frameworks to support public health, and acquire skills in the application of these concepts, and the implementation and evaluation of solutions to our modern health challenges.

HPM 611 Addiction and Public Health (3)
Substance abuse disorders are among the most difficult problems that confront public health professionals. This course provides an introduction to the basis of addictive disorders, specific drugs of abuse, at-risk populations, comorbidity of substance abuse and medical/mental health disorders, and public health interventions at multiple ecological levels. Prerequisite: HPM 525.

HPM 612 (ECO 512) Applications in Health Policy Analysis and Evaluation (3)

Current issues and research in health policy are analyzed using a political economy framework that builds on tools developed in HPM 501/ECO 509 and ECO 511. Policy topics include: Controlling risk and uncertainty in insurance and health care markets, Incentives for profit and non-profit status, Health care quality and cost-contingent n fee-for-service and managed care regimes, Rules vs. Incentives for health care delivery, Graduate medical education and malpractice reforms, Industry incentives in technology acquisition, and Equity and ethical dilemmas in efficiency evaluations. Prerequisite: HPM 501/ECO 509 and ECO 511.

HPM 619 (COM 619) Communication and Public Health (3)
This course is designed to provide an overview of a variety of areas related to communication and public health. The course will introduce theories concerning health communication and provide introductions to various topics, including interpersonal and organizational health communication, risk communication, media campaigns, and media effects on health. The course will also look at advertising and health, as well as explore the ways that new media (such as the Internet) impact health. Cultural differences and ethical issues with respect to communication and health will be covered throughout the semester. Students will develop writing, presentation, and research skills. Students will learn about developing media campaigns and designing research studies, with a focus on content analysis, through course assignments. Prerequisite: HPM 525 or permission of instructor.

HPM 620 Health Disparities and Vulnerable Populations (3)
The goal of this course is to understand what contributes to health disparities in the United States. The course will discuss underlying assumptions of group definitions, why particular groups may experience disparities and individual versus ecological approaches to health in our current health system. This course will also cover theoretical frameworks for understanding and addressing health disparities in health promotion. The course is geared for students to critically think about and discuss health disparities and use the knowledge gained through the class in their work as public health professionals and researchers.

HPM 623 Stress, Social Support Systems and Health (3)
This course examines the epidemiology of stress and health, and addresses the roles that networks of personal social relationships can play in coping with stressful life experiences. The course will address the effects of a wide variety of life stressors – such as chronic illness, the death of a loved one, childhood trauma, and financial hardship – on health problems such as substance abuse, mental disorders, and physical illness. Likewise, a variety of social support structures for coping with these life stressors will be discussed, including peer groups, family support, and community-level social networks.

HPM 625 Introduction to Public Health and Aging (3)
This course will provide an overview of issues related to public health and aging. We will begin with an overview of the demography and epidemiology of aging, and discuss how aging is viewed in society today, including myths of aging and stereotypes of aging, and briefly review theories of aging. The course will continue to cover the concept of successful aging, the implications of chronic illness and disability for public health, health promotion for older adults, and other topics central to public health in an aging society.

HPM 626 Social and Behavioral Aspects of Chronic Illness (3)
This course examines social and behavioral factors in chronic illness. Theoretical and conceptual frameworks for viewing chronic illness in the context of individual and family development across the life course will be discussed. The course will focus on the impact of chronic illness on families, psychosocial factors influencing adaptation to chronic illness, and interventions to promote self-management of chronic illness. Prerequisite: HPM 525 or permission of instructor. Prerequisites: HPM525

HPM 627 Program Development in Health Promotion (3)
This course provides an introduction to the application of theory and evidence to the development of health promotion interventions. Students will be introduced to the major steps of program planning, and will apply these steps to design their own health promotion intervention. The course takes an ecological approach to health promotion, and also gives students the opportunity to critically evaluate a variety of health promotion interventions targeting change at the individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and public policy levels, and to examine how behavioral science theories have been applied to the design of these interventions. Prerequisites: HPM 525 or equivalent.

HPM 635 Economic Evaluation in Health Care (3)
This course introduces students to the methods, objectives, and applications of economic evaluations in the health care sector. In this course, students will also participate in a lab to learn decision analysis software such that they can perform analyses themselves as a class project.

HPM 641 Principles of Health Care Organization Management (3)
This course covers the major foundational and operational aspects of managing in both public and private sector health care organizations. It is intended as a survey course that provides an introduction to topics in health management. It is also a course that exposes students to the principles and process of evidence-based management. The topics include systems thinking, organizational learning and change, structure and culture, human resources management, and innovation. A heavy emphasis in the course is on applying the theories and research associated with these topics to contemporary issues in health management that involve quality improvement, performance measurement, and service quality. In addition, quality improvement tools such as Lean Techniques and the Balanced Scorecard are introduced to students for their use. This course heavily emphasizes critical thinking and development of written and oral communication skills. Prerequisite:  HPM500 completed.

HPM 642 Health Law (3)
Competence in public health law is being recognized increasingly as essential to the training of public health practitioners. this course aims to provide students with practical understanding of the basic concepts and tools used in public health law, skill in navigating its substantive and procedural realms, appreciation for how it has developed and changed over time, and insight into how law may be harnessed to improve public health in the future.

HPM 643 Long-term Care Administration (3)
This course provides an overview of long-term care policy, financing, and management with concentration on nursing home administration. Discussion will focus on nursing home organization, resident care, personnel, financial, environmental and regulatory management. Effective management, measured by indicators such as quality of care and quality of life of nursing home residents, will be presented. Student evaluations are based on class participation, two in-class exams, and a paper. Prerequisites: HPM500 or permission of instructor.

HPM 645 Global Health (3) 
This course explores international public health issues and various health care systems are identified; measures of health outcomes in populations are evaluated. Specific issues to be explored include infectious disease; reproductive health; nutrition; chronic disease; mental health; unintentional injuries and violence; and health and the economy. International health programs and projects as well as the globalization and practice of international health will also be discussed. Each student will select a national public health system for an in-depth study which will identify major population-based health issues and make recommendations for improved outcomes.  Prerequisite: Graduate standing.

HPM 647 Program Evaluation (3)
This course examines the methods used by public health professionals to determine whether a particular health promotion program or policy is effective. Several major aspects of program evaluation will be addressed, including needs assessment, assessment of program theory, process evaluation, impact evaluation, and efficiency assessment. Students will develop skills in framing evaluation questions, the fundamentals of study design, and basic data analysis techniques for assessing program effects. Throughout the course students will gain experience in designing, carrying out, and critiquing evaluations of local health promotion programs. Both quantitative and qualitative models and methods will be discussed. Prerequisites: HPM525, EPI 500/501 or EPI/STA 551/552.

HPM 648 (PAD 644) Health Care Finance (4)
Examines major policy and implementation issues in the financing of health care, particularly the poor. Among the topics addressed are health cost containment, Medicaid, long term care, AIDS, and the provision of care to the uninsured. Prerequisites: PAD 503 and PAD 505 (or equivalent).

HPM 650 Strategy & Leadership Applications in Health Management (3)
This course is intended as a capstone that deals with business planning and decision making using strategic management principles and the model of strategic planning for the public and private sectors. The course uses the case-based method of learning in applying concepts from strategy, leadership, decision analysis, and health management to the development of situational analyses, corporate and operational level decision making, implementation plan development, and strategic evaluation.  Students develop full strategic plans in the class as part of the work expectation. This course is taken at the end of a program of study. Prerequisites:  Both HPM500 and HPM641 completed.

HPM 652 Quantitative Methods in Health Policy (3)
Students are introduced to a variety of statistical methods and problems encountered by health policy analysts, planners and administrators. Quantitative methods for solving these problems and journal articles provide real-world examples for students. Methods include: nonparametric statistical methods; medical and health policy decision analysis; quantitative methods for health policy analysis. Prerequisites: STA 552 and STA 553, EPI/HPM 514 or Permission of Instructor.

HPM 656 Comparative Health Systems: A Global Perspective (3)
Every country is confronted with choices about how to organize and deliver health care for its people. this course explores the diversity of models that have been established in response to particular forces and circumstances including those related to political and economic factors and demographics. Students will have the opportunity to analyze the various approaches to managing and delivering health care in several countries, both those of wealthy nations and those of fewer resources. The issue of access, cost, and quality will be emphasized as well as current and emerging issues and challenges.

HPM 660 Poverty, Behavioral Health, and Health Policy (3)
This course examines the implementation of health and behavioral health policies on the national and state levels, with particular attention to their effects on the poor, the underserved, and at-risk populations across the life course. The course focuses on the policies integrated within the health and behavioral health care delivery systems that address underlying assumptions and values of health status; the unequal distribution of health and behavioral health conditions; the policy adaptations to medical technological advancements; the formulation, implementation, and strategic interpretation of prevention and intervention activities; and the evaluation of progress. The roles played by social workers and public health educators in policy practice and management will be emphasized. Prerequisites: SSW660; HPM500; by permission of instructor.

HPM 680 Healthcare Informatics (3)
This course examines the application of information technology and the associated knowledge/information management practices in the health care industry. Specifically, the course will focus on three aspects of Healthcare Management Informatics: organizational informatics; consumer informatics; and security informatics. The course will also explore the different types of strategies and practices that healthcare organizations can adopt to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their services.

HPM 690 HPM Field Placement (3)
A field experience in which the student works closely with a mentor on a project in health policy, management, or social behavior and community health. The field placement will often provide the basis for the master's paper. Prerequisite: consent of instructor.

HPM 695 Master's Project in Health Policy, Management and Behavior (3)
Selected project in Health Policy, Management and Behavior for each student. A report representing the entire semester of study is written on the subject studied.

HPM 697 Independent Study and Research in Health Policy and Management (2-6)
Supervised independent study or research of selected topics and problems of health policy and management. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.

Undergraduate Courses

SPH 310 Key Health Policy Issues in the U.S.: A Comparative Analysis (3)
This course is an overview of the status, trends, and key issues concerning U.S. health care delivery today.  It will include a comparative assessment of health policies by determining which issues in the U.S. health economy have similar causes with those in other nations, and which are specific to domestic circumstances.     

SPH 341 Promoting Healthy People and Communities (3)
This course focuses on how health promotion strategies influence healthy behaviors, healthy people, and healthy communities. Current public health issues will guide us in examining key health promotion concepts, health concerns at different ages, and the causes of different health behaviors. Health inequalities and mass media’s role will also be highlighted.

SPH 342 How U.S. Healthcare Works: Myths & Realities (3)
This course will introduce students to everyday realities of the U.S. health care system related to current issues like health care quality, access to care, the uninsured, patient safety, health care inflation, prescription drugs, physician-patient interaction, use of health care technology, and end-of-life care. The course is intended to provide students with an understanding of the various actors, stakeholder interactions, and functions of the U.S. health care system, through a case-based approach interweaving real world events, practice experience, and research about those events.

SPH 343 Mass Media & Health Behavior (3)
The course will focus on examining how entertainment media, including the internet, influences health behavior, including topics such as tobacco use, obesity, and violence. The course will also look at the role that advertising has on health, and discuss how the media can be used to educate people about healthy behaviors.

SPH 381/ECO 381 Economics of Health Care (3)
Economics concepts are used to explain the nature of demand and supply in the health care field. The behavior of consumers and health care providers is examined from an economic perspective. Areas of market failures and the rationale for government intervention are also described.

Undergraduate Honors Courses

THPM 250 Maternal and Child Health (3)
The goal of this course is to introduce students to the maternal and child health (MCH) field. This course will give students a beginning knowledge base of MCH within a public health context, focusing on the major life course issues addressed in MCH, both domestically and globally, as well as public health approaches to address these issues. This course will also introduce students to some of the professional, educational, and career opportunities within MCH. Guest lecturers with expertise in specific MCH topics will be invited to participate in the course.