Journal of Public Health

, 17:417 | Cite as

Developing public health competencies through building a problem-based learning project

  • Isabel LoureiroEmail author
  • Nigel Sherriff
  • John Kenneth Davies
Original Article



In order to tackle the major challenges faced by public health over recent decades, there is a pressing need for an appropriately competent work force. Therefore, investment is required in the development of the necessary pedagogical strategies to deliver such competencies and thereby enable public health professionals to effectively perform their core functions. Drawing primarily upon on the work and experiences of the EC-funded PHETICE (Public Health Education and Training in the Context of an Enlarging Europe) and EUMAHP (European Masters in Health Promotion) projects, in this article an appropriate training method that integrates several public health models is introduced and discussed in order to deliver key public health competencies.


A student-centred learning (SCL) approach is recommended, from both theoretical and practical perspectives, as a more effective way of delivering training to achieve these competencies than traditional pedagogical methods. An ecological and educational approach to planning in public health is demonstrated by using a problem-based Learning (PBL) approach to the acquisition of basic public health competencies.


In outlining the PBL approach, the authors go on to explain how it can enable learners to gain systematically the necessary competencies to carry out comprehensive planning and decision making based on a comprehensive assessment, using the practical skills of compromise, negotiation, teamwork, and leadership.


Competencies Student-centred learning Public health Training Health promotion 



The work of the PHETICE project was supported by the European Commission (DG SANCO).

The authors also acknowledge the role of the PHETICE partners in this work. For further information and results from the PHETICE project, see Davies et al. (2008).

Conflict of interest statement

The authors disclose any relevant associations that might pose a conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Isabel Loureiro
    • 2
    Email author
  • Nigel Sherriff
    • 1
  • John Kenneth Davies
    • 1
  1. 1.International Health Development Research CentreUniversity of BrightonBrightonUK
  2. 2.Escola Nacional de Saúde PúblicaUniversidade Nova de Lisboa, CIESPLisboaPortugal

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