Australasian Epidemiological Association News

AEA 2017 meeting - Advanced Epidemiology short course and pre-conference workshops

Advanced Epidemiology Short Course - Sydney, Australia 25-28 September 2017

Lecturers: Professor Tony Blakely (Otago University and Melbourne University) and Professor John Lynch (University of Adelaide)

The Advanced Epidemiology Short Course is being held in Sydney, Australia this year at Sydney University (preceding the AEA 2017 conference).

What does the course include?

  • An introduction to causal inference using contemporary approaches such as a potential outcomes approach and directed acyclic graphs (DAGs).
  • A comprehensive overview of systematic error (confounding, selection and information biases).
  • An introduction to quantitative bias analysis methods to correct for systematic error in epidemiological studies. (Sometimes called sensitivity analyses.) Methods taught range from simple to probabilistic methods.
  • Quantitative bias analysis exercises using Excel spreadsheets. Understanding and applying bias analyses not only enables you to undertake your own analyses in the future, but also means you have a deeper understanding of systematic error.
  • Selected specific topics such as regression model building strategies, direct and indirect effects (i.e. mediation analysis), propensity scores, instrument variables.
  • Applications of some of these methods in disease and cost effectiveness simulations (e.g. Markov and multistate lifetable models), and G methods such as marginal structural models (MSMs) and causal mediation analysis.

The course will be similar to previous years with the option to attend the four-day course, or just the final day on Thursday 28 September which focuses on addressing policy questions using advanced epidemiological methods, e.g. disease and cost-effectiveness modelling, and causal mediation analysis.

Course details and registration can be found at:


Half day workshops - $80pp:

The following half-day workshops will be held on Thursday 28 September. To register for a workshop, click here.

Please note there are minimum numbers for each workshop to proceed. You will be notified approximately three weeks prior to the workshop if it is not proceeding.


Morning Session - 0930-1230

TITLE: Relative risk estimation - methods and recent developments

CONVENOR/S: Leigh Blizzard and Petr Otahal


The risk ratio (relative risk) is the ratio measure of choice for summarising the impact of exposure in epidemiologic studies (Greenland, 1987). Fitting a log binomial regression model with a logarithmic link to binary outcome data makes it possible to estimate risk and risk ratios, and prevalence and prevalence ratios in cross-sectional studies. Standard methods for fitting the model can result in numerical difficulties including failure of the fitting algorithm to converge, however. This has prompted some practitioners to resort to one of several improvised methods. None of these ad hoc approaches is satisfactory.

Fortunately, relatively straightforward modifications to the fitting algorithms provided in standard statistical software, including optional variations to their default settings, make it possible to overcome numerical instability. An alternative is to perform estimation with a fitting algorithm due to Marschner and Gillett (2012).

This workshop provides a demonstration of these methods. The presenters will provide participants with purpose-written code for R and Stata statistical software, and assist those with laptops to apply it to example data. It will be shown that two of the most common work-around methods – estimating relative risk by Poisson regression, and approximating relative risk by odds ratios – can produce seriously misleading estimates.

WHAT TO BRING: Laptop with R or STATA software installed


TITLE: Extracting Insights from Unstructured Text

CONVENOR: David White


There are significant amounts of unstructured data that surround us and the structured data that we are comfortable analysing. This workshop introduces concepts, approaches and tools for extracting insight from unstructured data. The workshop is designed for those interested in learning about the value of insights in unstructured data and those new to unstructured data analysis.

WHAT TO BRING: Course participants bring their own laptop and should download Wordstat for Stata or QDAMiner and Wordstat.

Please contact the Conference Secretariat via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. if using Macintosh as special install instructions are required.


Afternoon session - 1330-1630

TITLE: Assessing risk of lead time bias in studies of overdiagnosis

CONVENOR/S: Gemma Jacklyn, Katy Bell, Alex Barratt


Overdiagnosis is recognised as a common problem in cancer screening, but estimates of its frequency depend on reliable estimates of lead time. Studies of screening mammography that do not allow for lead time may be biased and overestimate overdiagnosis. The methodology for dealing with lead time is diverse, complex and challenging, especially for non-randomised studies. Currently, there is no agreed systematic method to assess the risk of lead time bias in studies of overdiagnosis. Our workshop seeks to address this knowledge gap by discussing key considerations when evaluating lead time and exploring potential criteria to assess the risk of lead time bias in studies that estimate overdiagnosis due to screening mammography for breast cancer. The workshop will include two presentations, an open, group-based discussion, and identification of next steps.

WHAT TO BRING: Laptop, notepad and pen.


TITLE: Multiple imputation of missing data in longitudinal cohort studies

CONVENORS: Dr Margarita Moreno-Betancur and Assoc Prof Katherine Lee


Modern epidemiological studies collect a wide range of time-varying exposures, outcomes and other factors repeatedly over the course of follow-up. Examples include physical/biological characteristics (body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, etc.) and behavioural/socio-demographic characteristics (smoking, marital status, etc.). These longitudinal measurements are key to evaluate etiological hypotheses, including understanding of the pathways by which different exposures affect health outcomes. However, the prolonged observation of individuals, over repeated waves of follow-up, exacerbates the occurrence of missing data as participant engagement decreases with time. Statistical approaches for handling missing data in longitudinal studies vary in complexity, with principled methods such as multiple imputation becoming increasingly popular as they yield valid inferences under a broad range of scenarios regarding the causes for missing data. Multiple imputation methods for handling missing data in numerous variables are widely available in mainstream statistical software. Nonetheless, there are limitations, both computational and conceptual, regarding their use in the longitudinal setting. In this workshop, the speakers will first provide an overview of multiple imputation, followed by lectures with computer demonstrations in Stata and R (the code will be provided to students) focusing on methods available for multiple imputation of longitudinal data and guidance on good practice. Detailed illustrations will be based on the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), a large-scale Australian observational cohort.

TARGET AUDIENCE and PRE-REQUISITES: This course is suitable for quantitative epidemiologists and applied statisticians working in health research. It is assumed that participants will have a sound working familiarity with Stata or R, and with statistics to the level of multivariable logistic regression models, prior to the course. Some familiarity with multiple imputation is desirable.

WHAT TO BRING: Students are welcome to bring their laptop with Stata or R installed but this is not necessary.


Full Day Workshop - $120pp

TITLE: Systematic Reviews, Meta-analysis and Meta-regression

CONVENORS: Dr Janni Leung & Dr Gary Chan


Systematic reviews, meta-analyses and meta-regression analyses are the key techniques for summarising existing evidences on a research topic and answering research questions based on existing literature.

The goal of this workshop is to enable attendees to use techniques. This workshop will consist of three components:

Part 1) Systematic reviews: Planning for challenges in research question formation, keeping track of screening, data-extraction template designs for meta-analyses.

Part 2) Meta-analysis: When to use what? Fixed effects, random effects, and quality effects models, forest plots, pooling binary and continuous data, sensitivity analyses.

Part 3) Meta-regression analyses: Preparing the data and running the meta-regression analyses.

The workshop is designed to be hands-on and interactive. Attendees will complete the workshop with the tools and practical skills required to conduct their own systematic review, meta-analysis, and meta-regression analyses. It is assumed that the workshop attendees will have basic skills in excel.

This workshop also aims to serve as a standard AEA Clincal Epidemiology and Research Synthesis Methods Special Interest Group (CERSSIG) event that usually occurs at the Annual Scientific Meeting and a special invitation has been sent to the CERSSIG members.

WHAT TO BRING: Attendees will need to have Microsoft Excel, meta-XL, and R pre-installed on their windows computers.



Stories in Public Health

Stories in Public HealthStories in Public Health, a podcast for new and aspiring public health professionals.
Join as we travel around Sydney interviewing the people in public health that we most look up to!

Download our podcast and:

  • Be inspired by public health professionals who are leaders in their fields
  • Learn about how they got to where they are, and what motivates them to work in public health.
  • Stay up-to-date with the latest public health practice from the real world and have it explained in less academic terms.

Our first interview with Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Director of Health Protection at the NSW Ministry of Health is available at

For any questions or feedback please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

2016 AEA Mid-Career International Travel Award Report

Dr Duong T. Tran, Centre for Big Data Research in Health, Faculty of Medicine, UNSW Sydney

In 2016, I was fortunate to be awarded the AEA Mid-Career International Travel Award to attend the pharmacoepidemiology courses at McGill University, Montreal, Canada. My current research program investigates the utilisation and safety of smoking cessation pharmacotherapies and other medicines among almost 800,000 mothers in New South Wales and Western Australia and their babies. The research program used perinatal data (2003-2013) linked to PBS claims and other health administrative data collections. Training in advanced pharmacoepidemiology is not currently available in Australia, and the McGill courses are regarded as the best in the field internationally. The Award enabled me to attend both intermediate and advanced courses (15-26 May 2017), during which I learnt methodological challenges arising from the use of routine dispensing data in pharmacoepidemiology research studies as well as techniques to address these issues. Knowledge gained through the courses was immediately applied in my current data analyses and translated into feedback provided to my research students. In a longer term, advanced skills in pharmacoepidemiology will equip me with tools required by next-generation epidemiologists to make the most of ‘big data’. With the burgeoning availability of prescribing data (through linked PBS data, electronic health records, and general practice datasets such as NPS MedicineInsight), competency in pharmacoepidemiological methods will increasingly be required not only for research focussing on medication safety, but for a wide range of observational studies where medicine use may be a mediating or confounding factor. During the course, I also met researchers from other international institutions. The AEA Award has been incredibly valuable in broadening knowledge, skills and opportunities for collaboration. I would like to thank the Australasian Epidemiological Association for continued support for early and mid-career researchers.

Participants at the Intermediate course


Departmental Memberships are Avaialble

Departmental Memberships are avialble for University Departments, smaller Institutes or Organisations, or Government Departments.

1-10 members $1000
11-20 members $1900
21-50 members $4000

And a 20% discount on advertising in the AEA bulletin and website.

The Department needs to nominate a contact person responsible for liaising with the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

Members will have the same rights as members who join individually.

More information and singnup options here.

To renew your membership - update

Login and choose your plan, select the Sign Up/Renew or Renew button.

You will receive reminders 5 days and then 1 day before your membership expires, these are just notifications for recurring members that their card will be debited.

For non-recurring members your new subscription will be from the anniversary of your current online membership.

You cannot renew your membership more than 30 days before your current expiry date.

If you are experiencing problems or have any concerns please contact either the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Membership Fee Changes from 10th July 2017

The AEA Council reviewed membership fees in parallel with budgeting for the 2017-2018 financial year and from 10th July 2017 (extended due to technical issues with renewal) will increase Full Membership dues from $105 AUD to $110 AUD per year from the 1st July 2017.
Student and Retired Membership dues will remain unchanged.

The Council will continue to review these on an annual basis but aim to keep membership fees affordable and competitive against those of other professional societies.

AEA 2017: Global Epidemiological Engagement

  • AEA 2017: Global Epidemiological Engagement
  • 28-30 September 2017
  • The University of Sydney, Sydney

The AEA 2017 Conference will be held from 28-30 September 2017 at The University of Sydney. This year is the 30th Anniversary of the Association, and we welcome colleagues new and old to celebrate this milestone.

The Conference theme is Global Epidemiological Engagement and we will examine how epidemiology can be used to tackle some of the pressing global health issues. The conference will feature stimulating presentations, debates and workshops, as well as a social program that will allow you to meet fellow epidemiologists from throughout Australasia and beyond.

Invited Speakers


We look forward to seeing you at the conference and please visit the website regularly for updates.

For any general enquiries please contact the Conference Secretariat, Conference Logistics:

+61 2 6281 6624
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Measuring disease and injury burden in populations - QEG Presentation by Alan Lopez

The Queensland Chapter for the Australasian Epidemiological Association (also known as QEG) and Department of Health Queensland (Preventive Health Branch), jointly hosted a presentation by Professor Alan Lopez on the inside story of the global burden of disease studies, some of his personal insights, and the challenges of turning data metrics into policy and improved health outcomes for our global community. The presentation was held in Brisbane on 10 March 2017 and was attended by about 200 health professionals academics and interested people.

The presentation is available without the introduction and with the introduction.