Seven years ago ITM launched a short course called Qualitative and Mixed Methods in International Health Research (QMM), which is based on the idea that qualitative research provides a means to access unquantifiable facts and gain an in-depth understanding of the socio-cultural setting in which international health takes place. The one-month intensive course has proven to be so successful that it has since spawned its own “spinoffs”.
From 16-27 of January 2017 the fourth edition of the Qualitative research and introduction to mixed methods designs for disease control course took place at the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK), Havana, Cuba, one of ITM’s partner institutions. Inspired by ITM’s QMM in terms of content, exercises and teaching materials, it has been adapted to be conducted in two weeks, as a module in IPK’s Master’s Course in Epidemiology; and to satisfy the learning needs of the applicants in the Cuban context. The course was coordinated by two researchers involved in the collaborative project between IPK and ITM: Dennis Pérez and Marta Castro. Their team included professors Eric Martinez from IPK, María del Carmen Zabala and Marta Rosa Muñoz from the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO-Cuba) of Havana University; and Clare Barrington from the University of North Carolina Gillings School of Global Public Health.
By the end of the intensive training programme the participants were expected to be able to design qualitative research protocols to answer specific research questions from their practice in the field; appropriately select and design qualitative data collection tools; integrate qualitative and quantitative methodology into mixed methods designs; and process and analyse qualitative data using basic and advanced features of a data analysis software. As a novelty, two former students were acting as facilitators, which contributed to the much-appreciated dynamic and dialogic approach of the learning process. The heterogeneous student group was composed of epidemiology master students, professionals from IPK and other Cuban health institutions, with different backgrounds such as epidemiology, sociology, psychology, health promotion, quality control and foreign affairs, among others.
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