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Title: Qualitative Methods in Health Systems Research (HSR)
Keywords: Research
Qualitative methods
Country: Netherlands
Institution: The Netherlands - Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), Amsterdam
Course coordinator: Elaine Rabello
Date start: 2023-01-18
Date end: 2023-02-07
About duration and dates: 2.5 weeks.
Classification: advanced optional
Mode of delivery: Distance-based
Course location: KIT Amsterdam (Royal Tropical Institute)
PO Box 95001, 1090 HA Amsterdam
The Netherlands
Tel: +31-20-5688256
tropEd representative: L. Gerstel (
ECTS credit points: 4 ECTS credits
SIT: Student Investment Hours: 112 hours
Contact hours: 23 hours plenary class sessions, 12 hours tutorials, 9 hours practical exercise
Self-study hours: 68 hours
Language: English
At the end of the module the participants should be able to:
• Explain the most important differences in concepts,
paradigms and application of quantitative and qualitative research methodologies in health systems research
• Clearly formulate research objectives based on a problem statement
• Select an appropriate mix of qualitative research methods and develop corresponding tools to investigate public health issues
• Conduct well-structured in-depth interviews, semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with a variety of study participants
• Formulate a feasible, consistent and logical small scale qualitative research proposal related to a public health problem in a specific low-income country
• Propose an outline of a research report and strategies to disseminate research results to different target groups for use in practice
• Critically assess whether a proposed research design is suitable to answer a research question
Assessment Procedures:
• Individual assignment to develop a qualitative research proposal (2,000 words +/- 10%) on a public health issue in a low- or middle income country (80% of final mark)
• Group assignment to critically assess a qualitative research proposal (20% of final mark)
The focus in this module is the use of qualitative research methods within health systems research

• Introduction to HSR: Role of HSR; appropriate use of
quantitative qualitative research methodologies; process of qualitative research
• Review of problem analysis and problem statement,
formulation of research objectives, variables/issues, study type, data collection techniques, sampling/selection and recruitment of respondents for qualitative research
• Quality assurance and ethical considerations in health systems research
• Practical exercise on the full research cycle
• Qualitative data analysis (manual and NVivo)
• Report writing, use of research for policy and practice
• Critical reading of research proposals
Online interactive plenary sessions (including an online practical exercise), individual assignment with online tutoring sessions of groups of 6/7, online group exercises
• Academic training or a professional qualification in a relevant area equivalent to BSc level.
• At least 2 years professional experience in a related area including public health management and planning, in a low income country
• English level TOEFL 550 or IELTS 6.0 (academic version)
Plenary group of 61, plenary groups of 30 per group, plenary groups of 20 and tutorial groups of 6-7
Selection: See prerequisites above
Fees: € 2.170
OKP, varies per year
Major changes since initial accreditation:
1.A clearer focus on qualitative research has been introduced in all sessions and in the learning objectives, with more elaborate explanations on:
a. The process of qualitative research (reading material and practical examples)
b. The difference between qualitative and quantitative research during the introductory session
2. More time is spent on qualitative data analysis during teaching and the practical exercise
3. The module has been revised, with less number of hours in plenary teaching and within class more time to work on own proposal. In addition, four tutorials are offered instead of three. The aim is to allow more time and guidance for students to develop their own research proposal.
4. There is less focus on conceptual framework and students can do the problem analysis in different ways and this has proven to be effective
5. More consistency between tutorial sessions of different tutors is assured as:
• Guides and instructions for tutorials are provided
• Before the start of the module the tutors, who also mark the assignments of the students, come together to discuss the module in general and the tutorials in particular and during which they jointly mark and discuss a research proposal from the previous year
• After each tutorial session feedback sessions are organized with the facilitators to harmonize approaches
• During all session beamers/ projectors are used for presentations so less photocopying and printing is needed.
6. A more elaborate format for the assignment is provided to the students at the start of the module, including a tutorial guide.
7. Students critically assess a research proposal in groups and this assessment counts for the final mark.
8. An introduction to NVivo is given next to the manual analysis in the practical exercise
9. Students are allowed to choose a similar topic as in their SDH and thesis
Student evaluation:
Students are positive about this module, but mentioned the following issues:
1. They still need more time for understanding qualitative data analysis
2. There are still differences in approach among the 9-10 facilitators
3. They like the assessment of the proposal which helps them in strengthening their writing skills
4. They like the book which is clearly structured.
5. They like the hands on nature of this module
Lessons learned:
Students like the module but always underestimate the work of writing.
tropEd accreditation:
Accredited in Bordeaux 2002 with 3 ECTS.
Accredited in Edinburgh 2004 with 4 ECTS. Re-accredited in November 2010 and in Basel, September 2015, and in September 2020 in Munich. This accreditation is available until September 2025.
Remarks: Hardon A et al, 2005 Applied health research; anthropology of health and health care, Amsterdam; Aksant
Email Address:
Date Of Record Creation: 2015-09-14 15:59:46 (W3C-DTF)
Date Of Record Release: 2015-09-14 20:36:45 (W3C-DTF)
Date Record Checked: 2021-03-18 (W3C-DTF)
Date Last Modified: 2023-01-04 10:56:42 (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