The United Kingdom Field Epidemiology Training Programme: meeting programme objectives

MARIA PAOLA DEY, JEREMY BROWN, JOHN SANDARS, Yvonne Young, Ruth Ruggles, Samantha Bracebridge

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Most evaluations of field epidemiology training programmes (FETP) are limited to process measures, but stakeholders may need evidence of impact.

To ascertain if the United Kingdom (UK) FETP met its objectives to: (i) strengthen capacity and provision of national epidemiology services, (ii) develop a network of highly skilled field epidemiologists with a shared sense of purpose working to common standards and (iii) raise the profile of field epidemiology through embedding it into everyday health protection practice.
The evaluation consisted of: (i) focus groups with training site staff, (ii) individual interviews with stakeholders and (iii) an online survey of FETP fellows and graduates. Findings were synthesised and triangulated across the three evaluation components to identify cross-cutting themes and subthemes.

Eight focus groups were undertaken with 38 staff, ten stakeholders were interviewed and 28 (76%) graduates and fellows responded to the survey. Three themes emerged: confidence, application and rigour. FETP was perceived to have contributed to the development, directly and indirectly, of a skilled workforce in field epidemiology, increasing stakeholders’ confidence in the service. Graduates applied their learning in practice, collaborating with a wide range of disciplines. Fellows and graduates demonstrated rigour by introducing innovations, supporting service improvements and helping supervisors maintain their skills and share good practice.

The UK FETP appears to have met its three key objectives, and also had wider organisational impact. FETPs should systematically and prospectively collect information on how they have influenced changes to field epidemiology practice.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date5 Sep 2019
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sep 2019


  • Programme Evaluation
  • qualitative research.
  • Public health surveillance
  • Education, Public Health Professional

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