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Revista Panamericana de Salud Pública

Print version ISSN 1020-4989

Abstract

IDROVO, Alvaro J et al. Perception of epidemiological competencies by public health students in Mexico and Colombia during the influenza A (H1N1) epidemic. Rev Panam Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.30, n.4, pp. 361-369. ISSN 1020-4989.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1020-49892011001000010.

OBJECTIVE: Learn about the perception of public health students in Mexico and Colombia regarding the management of the influenza A (H1N1) epidemic to determine which curriculum contents in epidemiological education can be improved. METHODS: Survey administered to graduate students during the epidemic, from June to August 2009. The 30 epidemiological competencies for "intermediate epidemiologists" of the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists were evaluated. The results were described through stratification by covariables, and the less developed competencies were identified through exploratory factor analysis. RESULTS: A total of 154 students participated, 55.8% of whom were in Mexico. Significant differences in the student profile from each country were observed, which partially explains the perception of response to the epidemic. The first factor, which explains 21.5% of the variance, had lower scores in the factor analysis. This factor was associated with competencies related to the links between health personnel and the community, in which knowledge of the social sciences and communication skills are relevant. CONCLUSIONS: The students perceived that the response to the epidemic could have been better. It is suggested that public health human resources education include subjects related to the impact of culture on behavior and thinking, recognition of the prejudices of experts, effective community-level communication, and the ability to adapt to new situations. The "natural experiment" of the epidemic facilitated the identification of areas of opportunity to improve the teaching of epidemiology to health personnel.

Keywords : Epidemiology; professional competence; students, health occupations; education, medical; Mexico; Colombia.

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