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The Department of Community Medicine and Behavioural Sciences embraces the major disciplines of Epidemiology, Demography, Psychology, Sociology and Biostatistics that enable us to understand how psychological, social and demographic variables influence health. Other complementary fields of expertise, essential for fulfilment of the Department’s mission, include Medical Ethics, Health Promotion and Education, Health Economics, Occupational and Environmental Health, Health Policy and Management and Communication Skills.

Community Medicine, also known as Public Health Medicine, aims to prevent disease, prolong life, and promote health through the organized efforts of society. It relies mainly on Epidemiology and Biostatistics as its basic science disciplines. Understanding key epidemiological and statistical concepts, principles and methods is necessary for comprehending health needs in the community, perceiving the interplay of risk factors, conceptualizing and implementing preventive and control measures, as well as evaluating the effects of intervention programs.

These epidemiologic and statistical principles are also applied clinically since they enable physicians to read, interpret and apply the medical literature to clinical practice, and by enabling physicians to improve the clinical care of patients through the concepts of evidence-based medicine. Since the community is a real "human laboratory" for epidemiology and public health, a significant part of teaching is organized outside the classroom, in the "real life" situations of a community-based research project. Also emphasized are the basic concepts and methods of prevention, public health, health education and health promotion, global health and occupational and environmental health.

The Behavioural Sciences enable medical students to acquire a better understanding of themselves and others and, more specifically, to understand the psychological and socio-demographic factors that are determinants of health and disease. Psychology helps us to understand the mental processes of perception, learning, memory, attention, motivation, emotion, development and aging in individuals; as well as providing a basic knowledge of how people differ in terms of personality, temperament and cognitive performance. Sociology and Demography take us beyond the study of individuals to provide an understanding of the organization, behaviour and interaction of groups in a social context.

Together Psychology and Sociology have a bearing on all aspects of human behaviour, including the quality of communication between patients and physicians in the context of the prevention, incidence, prevalence, manifestation, diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of disease. Health-promoting behaviours and discouraging illness-promoting behaviours are determined by a complex interaction of genetic and environmental factors and by different cultural patterns. Thus, an understanding of individual and group differences in human behaviour, and its application to patient care by the physician, facilitates early diagnosis and effective treatment in the promotion of health and prevention of illness.

Master of Public Health Program

community medicine dep

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