CDC Non-communicable Disease (NCD) Field Investigation Guide (2017)

Date published
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Field Epidemiology Training Program (FETP)


Since 1976, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has worked with ministries of health (MoHs) throughout the world to establish and support ministry-based Field Epidemiology Training Programs (FETPs). Through these FETPs, health professionals are trained to be expert practitioners in applied epidemiology. Many become leaders and managers in the MoH, improving surveillance systems, strengthening capacity to address emerging health threats and endemic health concerns, and promoting a culture of data-driven decision-making.

From inception, FETPs concentrated on infectious disease threats, but over the last decade many have expanded their scope of work to include non-communicable diseases (NCDs). From CDC’s Headquarters in Atlanta, CDC’s FETP-NCD Team assists national FETPs with this transition by providing technical assistance through training, minigrants, investigation tools, and direct expert consultation.

To further assist residents in developing protocols and carrying out applied field studies with direct public health consequences, CDC’s FETP-NCD Team contracted the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health’s Department of Global Health to develop an FETP Field Investigation Guide on tobacco, maternal and child health/birth defects, injury, hypertension, and cancer (cervical and colorectal). CDC experts in tobacco, reproductive health, birth defects, injury, heart disease and stroke prevention, and cancer epidemiology from CDC’s National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, CDC’s National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, and CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control reviewed and revised the content.

The guide includes the following by each of the five topical areas:

  • Central investigation questions and ongoing field epidemiology investigation gaps (with a list of hypothesis-driven investigation questions)
  • An investigation guide providing important definitions, useful formulas, commonly assessed variables, and a list of datasets
  • A list of recommended exemplary investigation articles for fully CDC-supported FETP countries (see the Appendix)

The compendium focuses on supporting investigations in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). Authors extracted information from the literature, textbooks, government-based resources (such as CDC, the National Institutes of Health, and the World Health Organization), and public health-related institutions to put together a document to guide FETP residents on developing and conducting robust investigations in their field.

Author type
FETP affiliate
Resource type
Manuals and Toolkits
Epidemiology training
Non-communicable diseases
Field investigation