Disease Detective Rules 2014

1. DESCRIPTION: Students will use their investigative skills in the scientific study of disease, injury, health,
and disability in populations or groups of people with a focus on Environmental Quality.
2. EVENT PARAMETERS: Each team may bring only one 8.5” x 11” two-sided page of information in any
form from any source and up to 2 non-programmable, non-graphing scientific calculators.
3. THE COMPETITION: Sample Problems and Resources may be found at http://www.soinc.org
a. This event combines a basic understanding of biological and physical agents that cause disease with an
ability to analyze, interpret, evaluate and draw conclusions from simple data and communicate results to
peers. Students should be able to distinguish between infectious and non-infectious health burdens.
b. A broad definition of health will be used for this event. Potential topics include health as well as illness
(mental, physical, infectious, chronic, environmental, societal, genetic, injuries and health behaviors).
c. This event will include questions based on:
i. Study design and data collection
ii. Creating graphic displays of data
iii. Interpreting trends and patterns of epidemiologic data
iv. C Division only: Recognizing and accounting for potential sources of error, rate adjustment
(direct and indirect) and stratified analysis (e.g., Mantel-Haenszel test). Using basic statistical
methods to describe data and test hypothesis involving qualitative and quantitative data
v. Communicating results
d. Students will be presented with one or more descriptions of public health problems.
e. Based on these descriptions, they will be expected to do the following:
i. Generate hypotheses and recognize various fundamental study designs.
ii. Evaluate the data by calculating and comparing simple rates and proportions.
iii. Identify patterns, trends and possible modes of transmission, sources or risk factors.
iv. Recognize factors such as study design/biases that influence results (more for Div. C-less for B).
v. Propose interventions based on promoting positive health behaviors, eliminating or reducing risks of
environmental exposures, or disrupting clearly identifiable chains of transmission.
vi. Translate results/findings into a public health/prevention message for identified populations at risk.
f. Students will also be expected to:
i. Define basic epidemiological and public health terms (e.g., outbreak, epidemic, pandemic,
surveillance, risk, vector, fomite, zoonosis, etc.).
ii. Recognize various categories of disease causing agents & give examples of illnesses caused by each.
iii. Recognize and understand differences among the major groups of infectious agents (e.g., viruses,
bacteria, protistans, fungi and animals).
iv. Recognize examples of various epidemiologic and public health phenomena such as types of
outbreaks and modes of transmission.
g. Calculations and mathematical manipulations should be part of the competition. Data may be contrived
or modified to make it more appropriate for this age group as long as it does not radically alter results or
h. Process skills may include hypothesis, observations, inferences, predictions, variable analysis, data
analysis, calculations, and conclusions.
i. The level of questioning for B/C competitions should reflect the age-appropriateness for the two groups.
j. The event format may be exam-based, station-based or a combination of both.
a. Points will be assigned to the various questions and problems. Both the nature of the questions and
scoring rubric should emphasize an understanding that is broad and basic rather than detailed and
b. Depending on the problem, scoring may be based on a combination of answers, including graphs/charts,
explanations, analysis, calculations, and closed-ended responses to specific questions.
c. Points should be awarded for both quality and accuracy of answers, the quality of supporting reasoning,
and the use of proper scientific methods.
d. Highest number of points will determine the winner. Selected questions may be used as tiebreakers.
Recommended Resources: All reference and training resources including the Disease Detective CD are
available at http://www.soinc.org.
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