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Graduate Course Proposal Form Submission Detail - PHC6035
Tracking Number - 2460

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Current Status: Approved, Permanent Archive - 2011-07-17
Campus: Tampa
Submission Type: New
Course Change Information (for course changes only):
Comments: to GC 4/4/11; approved 4/18/11. to USF System for concurrence 5/3/11. ready for SCNS 5/11/11. Apprd eff 5/1/11. Nmbr subm 6031; changed to 6035

Detail Information

  1. Date & Time Submitted: 2011-02-04
  2. Department: Aging & Mental Health
  3. College: BC
  4. Budget Account Number: 586000050
  5. Contact Person: Amber Gum, Ph.D.
  6. Phone: 8139741980
  7. Email:
  8. Prefix: PHC
  9. Number: 6035
  10. Full Title: Comorbidity of Mental and Physical Disorders
  11. Credit Hours: 3
  12. Section Type: C - Class Lecture (Primarily)
  13. Is the course title variable?: N
  14. Is a permit required for registration?: N
  15. Are the credit hours variable?: N
  16. Is this course repeatable?:
  17. If repeatable, how many times?: 0
  18. Abbreviated Title (30 characters maximum): Mental & Physical Comorbidity
  19. Course Online?: C - Face-to-face (0% online)
  20. Percentage Online: 100
  21. Grading Option: R - Regular
  22. Prerequisites: PHC 6000, PHC 6050
  23. Corequisites: None
  24. Course Description: This course examines the comorbidity of mental and physical disorders, taking a lifespan epidemiological approach. Emphasis is placed upon theories and empirical research elucidating comorbidities, risk factors, and mechanisms.

  25. Please briefly explain why it is necessary and/or desirable to add this course: Replacing Selected Topics with Permanent number; already listed in program
  26. What is the need or demand for this course? (Indicate if this course is part of a required sequence in the major.) What other programs would this course service? Course has been offered as selected topics once a year for several years, primarily as an elective for MPH Behavioral Health track students. I have taught the course twice (fall 2008, spring 2011) and as directed readings in spring 2010. Course is needed to remain current in public health research and program models, which increasingly recognize the many ways in which mental and physical disorders interact and the movement toward service delivery models that integrate medical, mental, and social services. This course addresses these needs by learning of content areas in comorbidity (epidemiology, risk factors, etc.) as well as research methods appropriate for the study of comorbidity.

    For behavioral health MPH students, this course addresses the following competencies:

    General MPH competencies:

    1. Investigate, determine, and address socio-ecological factors that affect the health of a community.

    a. Apply the study of patterns of death, disease, and disability to the prevention (primary, secondary, and tertiary) of health issues.

    b. Apply statistical reasoning and methods to address, analyze, and solve problems in public health.

    3. Demonstrate effective written and oral skills for communicating with different stakeholders.

    Behavioral health competencies:

    2. Identify the fundamental principles of the epidemiology of mental and substance use disorders.

    3. Specify unique issues in behavioral health programs and disorders for culture, age, and other specific at-risk pop.

    4. Discuss the concepts of etiology, disease identification, and prevention of individuals with mental health and substance use problems.

    5. Critically evaluate and specify a broad range of behavioral health literature to analyze behavioral health issues and problems.

    This course also has value for graduate students in other mental health and health related fields, such as psychology, counseling, medicine, or nursing. No courses in these or other graduate programs were identified that covered similar material. The closest course identified was "Health Psychology" offered as part of the Clinical Psychology PhD program, although the two courses differ substantially. This course focuses on epidemiology, risk factors, and mechanisms of comorbidity, from an epidemiological perspective. Health psychology focuses on clinical research, assessment, and interventions for psychologists.

  27. Has this course been offered as Selected Topics/Experimental Topics course? If yes, how many times? Yes, 3 or more times
  28. What qualifications for training and/or experience are necessary to teach this course? (List minimum qualifications for the instructor.) Doctoral degree in epidemiology, public health, or related discipline. Training and research experience related to comorbidity of mental and physical disorders.
  29. Objectives: Primary:

    1. Become familiar with concepts, principles, and research methods to study life course comorbidity of mental and physical disorders.

    2. Become familiar with reported prevalence and incidence of comorbidity of mental and physical disorders in various populations, and potential biological, psychological, and social mechanisms of these relationships.

    3. Become aware of the possible influences of medical conditions on mental health as well as the effects psychological/psychosocial status may have on physical health.

    4. Recognize and critically evaluate needs for additional research or suitability of available research on comorbidity of mental and medical disorders to inform healthcare training, policy, and practice.


    1. Develop and improve effective scientific presentation skills.

    2. Develop and improve effective scientific writing skills.

    3. Apply and practice basic statistical and research skills.

    4. Develop skills in the translation of diverse research into understanding implications for policy, practice and training needs for healthcare service delivery.

  30. Learning Outcomes: Students will demonstrate achievement of the course objectives through course discussion, final presentation, and final paper. See assignments section for details.
  31. Major Topics: Introduction to Life Course Comorbidity


    Physical and psychiatric illness across adolescence

    Consequences of psychopathology

    Risk factors:

    Linking fetal experience to adult disease

    Epidemiological phenotype hunting

    Risk factors:

    Fundamental social causes

    Mood disorders:

    Mood disorders and the heart

    Mood disorders:

    Depression and osteoporosis

    Mood disorders:

    Cognitive impairment and geriatric depression

    Emotions and health:

    Allostatic load over the life course

    No class – Spring break

    Emotions and health:

    Emotions, personality, and health

    Positive emotions and health

    Emotions and health:

    Gulf War Syndrome


    National databases to study schizophrenia

    COX-2 inhibition in schizophrenia


    Schizophrenia, metabolic disturbance, and cardiovascular risk

    Practice and policy implications of comorbidity

    Sleep and physical and mental health comorbidities

  32. Textbooks: Eaton, W. W. (2006). Medical and psychiatric comorbidity over the course of life. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc.
  33. Course Readings, Online Resources, and Other Purchases: Areán, P. A., Raue, P., Mackin, R. S., Kanellopoulos, D., McCulloch, C., & Alexopoulos, G. S. (2010). Problem-solving therapy and supportive therapy in older adults with major depression and executive dysfunction. American Journal of Psychiatry, 167, 1391-1398.

    Birkenaes, A. B., Opjordsmoen, S., Brunborg, C., Engh, J. A., Jonsdottir, H., Ringen, P. A., et al. (2007). The level of cardiovascular risk factors in bipolar disorder equals that of schizophrenia: A comparative study. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 68, 917-923.

    Clark, H. W., Power, A. K., Le Fauve, C. E., & Lopez, E. I. (2008). Policy and practice implications of epidemiological surveys on co-occurring mental and substance use disorders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 34, 3-13.

    Druss, B. G., Mauer, B. J. (2010). Health care reform and care at the behavioral health–primary care interface. Psychiatric Services, 61, 1087-1092.

    Glei, D. A., Goldman, N., Chuang, Y. L., & Weinstein, M. (2007). Do chronic stressors lead to physiological dysregulation? Testing the theory of allostatic load. Psychosomatic Medicine, 69, 769-776.

    Graham, J. E., Christian, L. M., & Kiecolt-Glaser, J. (2006). Stress, age, and immune function: Toward a lifespan approach. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 29, 389-400.

    Hudson, C. G. (2005). Socioeconomic status and mental illness: Tests of the social causation and selection hypotheses. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 75, 3-18.

    Kasper, J. D., Ensminger, M. E., Green, K. M., Fothergill, K. E., Juon, H. S., Robertson, J., et al. (2008). Effects of poverty and family stress over three decades on the functional status of older African-American women. Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences, 63B, S201-S210.

    Katon, W. J., Lin, E. H. B., Von Korff, M., Ciechanowski, P., Ludman, E. J., Young, B., Peterson, D. Rutter, C. M., McGregor, M., & McCulloch, D. (2010). Collaborative care for patients with depression and chronic illnesses. New England Journal of Medicine, 363, 2611–2620.

    Katon, W., Unützer, J., Wells, K., & Jones, L. (2010). Collaborative depression care: history, evolution and ways to enhance dissemination and sustainability. General Hospital Psychiatry, 32, 456-464.

    Merikangas, K. R., Ames, M., Cui, L., Stang, P. E., Ustun, T. B., Von Korff, M., et al. (2007). The impact of comorbidity of mental and physical conditions on role disability in the US adult household population. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64, 1180-1188.

    Parmelee, P. A., Harralson, T. L., Smith, L. A., & Schumacher, H. R. (2007). Necessary and discretionary activities in knee osteoarthritis: Do they mediate the pain-depression relationship? Pain Medicine, 8, 449-461.

    Richman, L. S., Kubzansky, L., Maselko, J., Kawachi, I., Choo, P., & Bauer, M. (2005). Positive emotion and health: Going beyond the negative. Health Psychology, 24, 422-429.

    Seligman, M. E. P. (2008). Positive health. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 57, 3-18.

    Talati, A., Ponniah, K., Strug, L. J., Hodge, S. E., Fyer, A. J., & Weissman, M. M. (2008). Panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and a possible medical syndrome previously linked to chromosome 13. Biological Psychiatry, 63, 594-601.

  34. Student Expectations/Requirements and Grading Policy: Class participation (20 points)

    Two article critiques (10 points each)

    Final paper (40 points)

    Final presentation (20 points)


    A = 90-100%

    B = 80-89%

    C = 70-79%

    D = 60-69%


  35. Assignments, Exams and Tests: Attendance and Class Participation (20 points):

    Learning and research are social endeavors, in which colleagues learn and develop new ideas by interacting with each other. Therefore, you are expected to prepare for class by completing all readings and assignments, attend class, and actively participate. To be eligible for full credit for class participation, students must attend and participate in at least 13 of the 15 class sessions. The instructor reserves the right to call on students during class to engage them in class discussion.

    If you need to be absent due to medical reasons (yours or your immediate family's) on a test day or a day that an assignment is due, please provide a physician's note and notify me prior to class.

    Research Article Critiques (10 points each):

    To learn and apply the findings from research studies, as well as to conduct research, it is essential to develop critical thinking skills. For this purpose, there are two "article critiques" assignments. Use the electronic template in Blackboard to complete these assignments.

    1. Critique 1: Everyone will review the same article for class discussion – the first research article assigned for January 20.

    2. Critique 2: Each student will select an article from the list of required readings for the remainder of the semester. On the day that your critique is due:

    a. Email your critique to the Instructor by 3pm on your due date.

    b. Present a summary of the article and lead the class discussion in critiquing the strengths, weaknesses, and implications of the article.

    Class Project: Research Paper (40 points) and Presentation (20 points)

    Research Paper (40 points)

    To hone your scientific writing skills, you are required to write a 15-20 page research paper related to comorbidity of mental and physical disorders. Your paper will follow the standard reporting structure for research papers (Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion) and include basic statistical analyses of data from a relevant public use dataset. This type of paper is required for this class because: a) writing and reading research papers and statistical analyses are critical skills to many careers in public health; and b) we all learn best by doing. A portion of time in each class period will be allotted to discussing the components of this assignment and each student’s project. During these class discussions, students are expected to provide assistance and feedback to each other in a collaborative fashion, and the Instructor is available for individualized assistance as well. Therefore, you should have sufficient support to help you successfully complete this project.

    Selecting a topic: Your paper must focus on comorbidity of at least one:

    a) mental or substance use disorder, and

    b) at least one physical disorder or condition.

    Structure of paper: Your paper should have the following sections: title page, abstract page, main body of the paper, and references. The main body of the paper should contain the following sections: Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussion. The Instructor will supply at least one sample manuscript to serve as an example.

    a) Title page: Title, author, institution.

    b) Abstract: Brief summary of your study, keywords.

    c) Introduction: Brief literature review (epidemiology of comorbidity, consequences of comorbidity, possible mechanisms), gaps in knowledge, aims and hypotheses of your study.

    d) Methods: Dataset used, overview of sampling and methods, variables used, statistical analyses.

    e) Results: Results of statistical analyses; tables or figures may be included.

    f) Discussion: Summary of results; strengths and weaknesses of your study; implications for future research, practice, and policy.

    g) References

    h) Tables and figures (optional but probably beneficial in most papers)

    Available datasets: Several public use datasets are available, and the dataset you select depends upon the comorbid conditions, age groups, and populations in which you are interested. You may need to adjust your selected topic depending on the data available to you. The Collaborative Psychiatric Epidemiology Surveys ( is an excellent resource with data available on the general U.S. adult population, as well as surveys of Black, Latino, and Asian adults. You will be expected to download the dataset and all relevant documentation (e.g., survey, codebook).

    Statistical analyses: You will be expected to conduct basic descriptive statistical analyses only (e.g., means, frequencies, crosstabs). You are not expected to conduct advanced analyses or use complex sampling or weighting procedures. You may use your preferred software program (e.g., SAS, SPSS, STATA). Make sure to report all relevant statistics for analyses conducted, such as M (SD), N (%), test statistic, degrees of freedom, and p-values.

    Project class discussions: The class schedule shows the discussion topics throughout the semester. You will be expected to report on your progress, bring outlines and drafts, and engage in constructive discussion with your classmates about their projects. Near the end of the semester, you will be expected to review portions or all of a classmate’s paper.

    Additional requirements:

    1. Use either APA or AMA formatting style.

    2. The main body of the paper should be 15-20 pages long, double-spaced, Times New Roman, 12-point font, 1” margins all around.

    3. Include at least 10 published references (book, book chapter, peer-reviewed journal articles). References should be recent (2000 or later). At least five references must be original empirical research studies from peer-reviewed journals.

    The following components will be considered in grading your paper:

    1. Integration of theory and research findings on the topic, as opposed to writing a book report that merely summarizes a series of studies.

    2. Thoughtful critique of the current theory and research.

    3. Consistency throughout paper: i.e., gaps in current knowledge lead to your study aims, study aims lead to appropriate methods and analyses to achieve the aims, the results answer the study aims, and the discussion is based on the findings in relation to prior research and aims.

    4. The paper must end with detailed recommendations and description of additional studies needed and/or specific recommendation(s) for future research, policy, practice, or training related to that topical area.

    5. Finally, general writing skills (clarity, organization, grammar, etc.) will be considered.

    Final Presentation (20 points):

    Dissemination of one’s work is an important part of the academic process, so you will be required to present a 10-minute presentation based on your final paper to your colleagues in the class. Presentations will be scheduled for the final class period. Use PowerPoint (or similar presentation program), summarize your paper in 10 minutes, and respond to questions during a 5-minute Q&A. By the day that your presentation is due: email your PowerPoint slides to the Instructor by 3pm.

  36. Attendance Policy: Course Attendance at First Class Meeting – Policy for Graduate Students: For structured courses, 6000 and above, the College/Campus Dean will set the first-day class attendance requirement. Check with the College for specific information. This policy is not applicable to courses in the following categories: Educational Outreach, Open University (TV), FEEDS Program, Community Experiential Learning (CEL), Cooperative Education Training, and courses that do not have regularly scheduled meeting days/times (such as, directed reading/research or study, individual research, thesis, dissertation, internship, practica, etc.). Students are responsible for dropping undesired courses in these categories by the 5th day of classes to avoid fee liability and academic penalty. (See USF Regulation – Registration - 4.0101,

    Attendance Policy for the Observance of Religious Days by Students: In accordance with Sections 1006.53 and 1001.74(10)(g) Florida Statutes and Board of Governors Regulation 6C-6.0115, the University of South Florida (University/USF) has established the following policy regarding religious observances: (

    In the event of an emergency, it may be necessary for USF to suspend normal operations. During this time, USF may opt to continue delivery of instruction through methods that include but are not limited to: Blackboard, Elluminate, Skype, and email messaging and/or an alternate schedule. It’s the responsibility of the student to monitor Blackboard site for each class for course specific communication, and the main USF, College, and department websites, emails, and MoBull messages for important general information.

  37. Policy on Make-up Work: Incomplete Grades

    Incomplete grades (I) will not be given in this course except under exceptional circumstances. This should be discussed with the instructor prior to the end of the semester.

  38. Program This Course Supports: Behavioral Health Concentration, Department of Community & Family Health, College of Public Health
  39. Course Concurrence Information: There is no other course in the Departments of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Psychology, or other Academic Departments in the USF College of Public Health that offer a course on this topic.

- if you have questions about any of these fields, please contact or