Public Health Sciences

The Public Health Sciences Department at Henry Ford Health System conducts and promotes population and clinical research studies to advance biomedical knowledge that will result in disease prevention and overall improved health status. In particular, the Department specializes in applied and theoretical statistics and epidemiology, with special emphasis on cancer, genetics, respiratory and neurological diseases. The department's main telephone number is (313) 874-6360.

Activities in public health sciences


The foundation for the Department’s activities centers on collaboration between a team of master’s and doctoral trained biostatisticians experienced in the areas of applied and theoretical statistics. Together, the staff participates in many aspects of research:

  • Study Design:
    In this phase of research, the staff collaborates on designing the experiment, addressing sample size requirements and developing data collection methods.
  • Data Analysis:
    This is the primary activity of the Biostatistics Division, with emphasis on proper methodology and communication of the results to the investigator in an understandable form.
  • Clinical Trials
    The staff has expertise in designing clinical trials, monitoring their progress, and managing and analyzing data collected from multiple sites. As members of a study group, staff serve on steering committees, participate on subcommittees, conduct data safety monitoring, statistical analysis, and collaborate on study publications.
  • Grant Preparation:
    The staff also has extensive experience with proposal development and the preparation of National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other grants. They also may assist with study design and protocol development, selection and piloting of questions, and other data acquisition tools.

Research epidemiology

The master’s and doctoral trained staff members have expertise in epidemiologic methods, including genetics, and the epidemiology of cancer, respiratory, cardiovascular and neurologic diseases. Their areas of expertise include:

  • Study Design:
    The Research Epidemiology Division collaborates with investigators in study design and development of study protocols, particularly for observational studies. They are trained to design studies that take into account the potential biases that can occur in a non-randomized study. They also assist with the design of the forms and questionnaires, which will be used to record information in the study.
  • HFHS Database Analyses:
    Staff members are proficient in the manipulation of managed care databases and the databases included in Henry Ford Health System’s Corporate Data Store (CDS). They are experienced in identifying patient populations of interest, profiling practice patterns and providing descriptive information related to specified study interests.

Computer programming

The Department’s activities also include:

  • Analyzing project needs and creating, testing and maintaining research databases for long-term projects, grants and contracts. (The integrity of data is assessed through special quality control programs.)
  • Producing reports on database status and data integrity.
  • Implementing various electronic data collection systems (CAPI, CADI); Teleform, Palm data collection; desktop or laptop direct data entry (DDE).
  • Querying corporate data store databases to identify populations and meet defined specifications.

Data collection

  • Medical Record Abstraction: Credentialed medical abstracting staff members provide support for the epidemiologic studies. These abstractors identify, collect and interpret specified data by reviewing documents in the medical record, including physician notes, health histories, operative notes, pathology reports, lab reports, discharge summaries, consults and inpatient stays. Abstractors also provide expertise in abstract development, including form design and layout, piloting of new abstracts, and development of abstractor guidelines and definitions.
  • Interviews: Staff members conduct personal, telephone and computer interviewing of patients for research data collection. Duties include interviewing, coding and editing interview forms. They also schedule appointments using the HFHS computerized appointment scheduling system.
  • Data Entry: Staff members are also primarily responsible for the input of data into computerized files. To assure accuracy, they provide double-entry verification as required.

Data management

Our staff participates in large single-center and multi-site national studies. They are responsible for supervising the flow of data through data collection, data entry and data coding processes, as well as data integrity, electronic and paper file maintenance and reporting of results. This requires:

  • Working with the programming staff to develop consistency checks and other quality control procedures
  • Generating schedules, as well as ad hoc reports for multiple studies
  • Having experience with current data management technologies

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