Medical Demography [HS04]

Course highlights

EC points


Start date


End date


Course days

Monday to Thursday


W. Nusselder, PhD and others

Course fee

€ 760


Erasmus MC, Rotterdam NL




Public Health Research Methods (HS02) or equivalent. In addition, a basic proficiency in the use of spreadsheets is required.


  • Public Health


How to apply

Detailed information about this course:


The first day of the course starts with an overview of the graphic different types of "what if" questions raised in public health, and an overview of the types of models that could be used to address such questions. Next, we will briefly discuss population projection techniques. Further, the student will learn to apply the life table, which is a simple yet powerful technique to model the population dynamics underlying public health.

The second day will focus on summary measures that combine mortality and morbidity estimates, such as health expectancies. Two types of life tables that are used to this end will be discussed: the Sullivan life tables, and the multi-state life tables. The student will become familiar with incorporating risk factor information into these models to make what-if simulations. In addition, on the second day a brief introduction will be given about methods to evaluate the impact of policy changes on population health.

The third day will focus on the use of more sophisticated risk factor models, which are applied to assess the ways in which changes in risk factors such as smoking and overweight could affect population health. Examples will be based on the Dynamo-HIA model, which is a comprehensive model to be used in health impact assessments across Europe.

The last day will focus on disability adjusted life year (DALY) estimates, which aggregates disability and premature mortality. The DALY can be combined with demographic statistics to assess trends and the effects of risk factors on the health state of a population. Friday afternoon students will prepare and present (in groups) a 15 minute presentation applying methods and insights obtained during the course week. This presentation will be graded.

The course consists of lectures and many computer exercises.


This course introduces the student to models to conduct "what if" analyses and make projections of the population. "What if" analyses are particularly useful to evaluate the likely effects of interventions or policy changes, or to set priorities. The student will become familiar with several types of (simulation) models that have been applied to address such questions. Particular emphasis is given to models that are used to explore future trends in population health and the effect on preventitive policies on these possible trends. In addition the course introduces students to methods to evaluate the impact of policy changes on health.

Participant profile

Epidemiologists and public health researchers.



Reduction on fees


50% reduction on our fees for participating institutes of NIHES

This 50% reduction is offered to participants formally appointed at the departments or sections participating in NIHES.

University Medical Center Rotterdam/Erasmus University Rotterdam:

  • Department of Epidemiology
  • Department of Public Health
  • Department of Psychiatry, Section of Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy
  • Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology
  • Department of Medical Informatics
  • Department of General Practice
  • Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management
  • Generation R

50% reduction on our fees for NIHES affiliated partners

This 50% reduction is offered to participants formally appointed at the following NIHES affiliated partners:

University Medical Center Rotterdam/Erasmus University Rotterdam, departments of:

  • Dermatology
  • General Paediatrics
  • Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery
  • Rehabilitation Medicine

UMIT, Department of Public Health, Health Services Research and Health Technology Assessment.

25% reduction on our fees for Erasmus MC employees

For participants formally appointed at all departments of Erasmus MC (except the departments mentioned above).

25% reduction for all (international) PhD students
Please upload proof of enrollment as a PhD student in the application form and state the name of your tutor on the application form (remarks field).

25% reduction on our course fees (maximum 3 EC points per academic year) for all NIHES alumni
Please state that you are a NIHES alumnus/alumna and the academic year you graduated (remarks field). Please note that the reduction on fees for alumni does not apply to the Erasmus Summer Programme.