Teaching public health in UK medical schools: 'things have improved: teaching no longer feels like an expensive hobby'

Anna K. Lyon (Lead / Corresponding author), Eleanor J. Hothersall, Steve Gillam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Recent policy initiatives in the UK have underlined the importance of public health education for healthcare professionals. We aimed to describe teaching inputs to medical undergraduate curricula, to identify perceived challenges in the delivery of public health teaching and make recommendations that may overcome them.

Methods: We undertook a cross-sectional survey; questionnaires were sent electronically to 32 teaching leads in academic departments of public health in UK medical schools and followed up by telephone interviews.

Results: We obtained a 75% response rate; 13 public health teaching leads were interviewed. We found much variability between schools in teaching methods, curricular content and resources used. Concerns regarding the long-term sustainability of teaching focus on: staffing levels and availability, funding and the prioritization of research over teaching. We give examples of integration of public health with clinical teaching, innovative projects in public health and ways of enabling students to witness public health in action.

Conclusions: There is a need to increase the supply of well-trained and motivated teachers and combine the best traditional teaching methods with more innovative approaches. Suggestions are made as to how undergraduate public health teaching can be strengthened.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e309-e315
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date19 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2016


  • Education
  • Employment and skills
  • Public health
  • Quality


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