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Title: Qualitative and Mixed Methods in International Health Research (QMM)
Keywords: Research
Quantitative methods
Qualitative methods
International/Global Health
Country: Belgium
Institution: Belgium - Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine
Course coordinator: Prof. Koen Peeters
Date start: 2022-01-31
Date end: 2022-03-04
About duration and dates: 4 weeks
Classification: advanced optional
Mode of delivery: Field trip
Face to face
Course location: Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine
ECTS credit points: 6 ECTS credits
SIT: 180 hours
- 116 contact hours
- 32 hours field work (group work)
- 32 hours self-study (group work and individual work)
Language: English
At the end of the course the participants should be able to:
• Critically assess the quality and validity of qualitative and mixed methods in international health research in peer-reviewed articles, protocols or research reports
• Design research strategies (choosing the appropriate method for the research question: quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods) related to specific health problems and socio-cultural settings
• Relate and apply theoretical concepts and models to specific research questions and infer their implications for methodology
• Carry out basic qualitative research independently, including research design, data collection, theory based data analysis and presentation
Assessment Procedures:
Participants are assessed:
(1) In a maximum 3 hour written exam based on essay questions that invite students to consider practical applications of the course content (50% of total mark).
(2) On the field work (50% of total mark), including Nvivo database and coding; weekly analytical reports; and data collected.
Students can receive oral or written feedback on the final evaluation of the fieldwork documents when requested. Students can receive oral or written feedback on their exams.

Re-sits for the written exam are organized at the ITM or at collaborating institutes depending on the place of residence of the student.
The course consists of a combination of three related parts that provide a directly applicable and integrated tool for research.

1. Qualitative Research Methods
• Research strategies:
- qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches compared
• Qualitative data collection techniques in international health:
- Observational Methods (Participant observation)
- Interviewing (from informal conversations to formal in-depth interviews)
- Group discussions (informal group discussions; Focus Group Discussions)
- Text analysis (documents, secondary sources)
• Qualitative research methodology:
- Basic concepts: triangulation, iteration, flexibility of the research process
• Sampling strategies:
- The logic and application of qualitative sampling techniques (non-probability sampling; purposive, theoretical and snow-ball sampling)
• Data Analysis:
- Sequential, interim, abductive analysis; context analysis; coding
- Grounded theory: applicability and limitations for health research
- Qualitative Data Analysis software: NVIVO (QSR International)
• Structural characteristics of qualitative research:
- Formality and structure
- Field work
• Quality, validity, applicability, comparability and transferability of results
• Ethics and informed consent in qualitative research

2. Concepts and models for qualitative health research
• Concepts:
- Basic concepts that are directly applicable in international health research will be taught, such as cultural diversity, beliefs, community, ethnicity, mobility, stigma and social exclusion, access to care, medical pluralism, social vulnerability, adherence,... (Selection concepts subject to change.)
• Theoretical research models:
- Research models are theoretical tools that provide a structured overview of most relevant factors to be researched for a specific research question in a determined context. The use of models in general will be taught and applied to the certain research models, such as the Health Seeking Behaviour model, Vulnerability and the Medical Poverty Trap,... (research models subject to change.)

3. Mixed Method Approaches
• The preparation of survey questionnaires:
- The generation of questionnaires: quality requirements
- The use of qualitative research to prepare and fine tune questionnaires
• Cross-cultural use of standard questionnaires:
- How and when to use standard questionnaires in different cultural contexts: possibilities and limitations
• Mixed methods approaches:
- Combining and alternating quantitative and qualitative research methods to enhance the strengths of the respective methods
The course combines interactive lectures (102 hours) on methodology and theory with practical small group tutorials (14 hours) and field work (32 hours). In terms of self-study the students are expected to read the required reading materials prior to the lectures.
Problem oriented learning methods are used, focusing on concrete cases from international health research. Students will work with qualitative data from actual research projects. Students will actively carry out fieldwork to apply the methods and theory taught.
One day per week is dedicated to coached fieldwork in small groups of maximum 9 to 10 participants on a set of predefined research topics outlined in predefined research protocols. During fieldwork, students apply the theory and methodology taught under the supervision of a tutor providing feedback and technical assistance. The field work allows students to apply theories and link it to their concrete experiences in the field, enhancing their research skills.
This course targets an international audience of researchers, professionals and students.
Admission criteria are:
• A university degree in health or social sciences of 240 credits
• Proficiency in the course language: candidates who are not native speakers of the course language or whose language of instruction during higher education is not the same as the course language, must provide proof of language proficiency by a certificate from a recognized institution. Required level for English: TOEFL paper-based 580, computer-based 230, internet-based 88 or IELTS 6.5
Max. number of students: 20 (including tropEd students)
Selection criteria used to select participants:
• Academic record (grades)
• Motivation (presented in a motivation letter)
• Possibility and necessity to use qualitative and mixed methods in research, study or work context
• References
• Relevant additional training
2200 Euro
ITM offers a limited number of scholarships with the financial support of different agencies. The Belgian Directorate General for Development is the main sponsor. See > education > scholarships
Major changes since initial accreditation:
Change of course location: Since 2015 the course is organised alternatively at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp or at a collaborating Research Institute. In 2015 the course was organised at/with the Medical Research Council, The Gambia and in 2018 the course will be co-organised with the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology (NIMPE) in Vietnam. This delocalisation allows to attract students from different regions (interesting student mix) and to involve teaching staff from a broader range of partners. The possibility to carry out the fieldwork in an international health setting is a well-appreciated advantage (as perceived by both tutors and students).
Student evaluation:
Students consider the course very intense but a real eye-opener and asset for their future careers.

Feedback Joanna Cortez (Portugal - QMM 2014 - Student of MSc Public Health – orientation International Health, Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp, Belgium)

“From 27 January until 21 February 2014 I had the pleasure to learn about qualitative research and mixed-methods designs during the 4-week-long QMM course. Embedded in an international atmosphere from Japan to Vietnam and from Europe to East Africa, along with a group of brilliant teachers and a major field-work component, it enables the students to critically assess the quality and validity of qualitative and mixed methods in international health research and gain insight to this amazing and challenging tool of understanding human behaviour and the socio-cultural context. Even if many times I felt that “I missed the Gorilla” (attendance to the course is needed to understand this), at the end I happily admit I feel completely convinced by these research methods which I perceive as foremost importance for my studies in International Health. I highly recommend this course!”

Evaluation of the teaching staff regarding the Gambian setting. All lecturers involved considered having the QMM in The Gambia to have added value. The two main reasons were the field setting for field work closer to reality of a global health context; and a better and closer contact with the students due to the fact that we are all in a different setting.
Lessons learned:
The program has been continuously adapted to optimize the combination of theoretical lectures and practical learning. It is planned to blend this course in 2019 and review the SIT and ECTS.
tropEd accreditation:
Accredited in May 2012 and re-accredited in June 2017. This accreditation is valid until Jun 2022.
A basic understanding of human behaviour and the socio-cultural context is key for effective international health research. 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. Combining qualitative and quantitative methods and data sources, in mixed-method designs, enhances the strengths of the respective research methods and constitutes an essential tool to answer research questions that cannot be investigated by quantitative methods alone.
Application please enter

Application deadline: 2017-08-15
Email Address:
Date Of Record Creation: 2012-05-05 09:17:34 (W3C-DTF)
Date Of Record Release: 2012-05-05 15:26:43 (W3C-DTF)
Date Record Checked: 2017-07-20 (W3C-DTF)
Date Last Modified: 2021-11-20 22:30:54 (W3C-DTF)

Fifteen years of the tropEd Masters in International Health programme: what has it delivered? Results of an alumni survey of masters students in international health

L. Gerstel1, P. A. C. Zwanikken1, A. Hoffman2, C. Diederichs3, M. Borchert3 and B. Peterhans2

1 Royal Tropical Institute, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland
3 Institute of Tropical Medicine and International Health, Charite – Universit€atsmedizin Berlin, Berlin, Germany