How do field epidemiologists learn? A protocol for a qualitative inquiry into learning in field epidemiology training programmes

Matthew Myers Griffin, Emma Field, Angela Song-en Huang, Tomoe Shimada, Munkhzul Battsend, Tambri Housen, Barbara Pamphilon, Martyn Kirk

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COVID-19 underscored the importance of field epidemiology training programmes (FETPs) as countries struggled with overwhelming demands. Experts are calling for more field epidemiologists with better training. Since 1951, FETPs have been building public health capacities across the globe, yet explorations of learning in these programmes are lacking. This qualitative study will (1) describe approaches to training field epidemiologists in FETP; (2) describe strategies for learning field epidemiology among FETP trainees and (3) explain the principles and practices aligning training approaches with learning strategies in FETP.
Methods and analysis
The research design, implementation and interpretation are collaborative efforts with FETP trainers. Data collection will include interviews with FETP trainers and trainees and participant observations of FETP training and learning events in four FETP in the Western Pacific Region. Data analysis will occur in three phases: (1) we will use the constant comparison method of Charmaz’s grounded theory during open coding to identify and prioritise categories and properties in the data; (2) during focused coding, we will use constant comparison and Polkinghorne’s analysis of narratives, comparing stories of prioritised categories, to fill out properties of those categories and (3) we will use Polkinghorne’s narrative analysis to construct narratives that reflect domains of interest, identifying correspondence among Carr and Kemmis’s practices, understandings and situations to explain principles and processes of learning in FETP.
Ethics and dissemination
We have obtained the required ethics approvals to conduct this research at The Australian National University (2021/771) and Taiwan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare (112206). Data will not be available publicly, but anonymised findings will be shared with FETP for collaborative interpretation. Ultimately, findings and interpretations will appear in peer-reviewed journals and conferences.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number1
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Jan 2024


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