Developing Global Health Diplomacy-related Skills Using a COVID-19-like Epidemic Simulation as a Learning Strategy

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  • 1 College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida;
  • 2 College of Public Health & Health Professions and College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida;
  • 3 International Programs, USF Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida

Public health and global health practitioners need to develop global health diplomacy (GHD) skills to efficiently work within complex global health scenarios, such as the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Problem-based learning was used as a framework to create a scenario-based activity designed to develop GHD-related skills. The application and effectiveness of this scenario-based activity to develop GHD-related skills were assessed. A mixed-methods approach involving a self-administered survey and one focus group discussion was used. The survey collected baseline participant characteristics as well as understanding and improvements in GHD-related skills using a 5-point Likert scale. The focus group was audio-recorded and thematically analyzed using both inductive and deductive codes. Data integration was achieved by connecting and weaving. Method and investigator triangulation techniques were used. Participants self-reported significantly better postscenario-based activity responses when asked about their understanding of diplomacy, negotiation, communication, and how to address public health emergencies (P < 0.01, Wilcoxon signed rank test). Most participants either agreed or strongly agreed that their GHD-related skills improved with participation in the scenario-based activity (diplomacy = 55.6%; negotiation = 66.5%; communication = 72.2%; addressing public health emergencies = 72.1%). Overall, qualitative data were consistent with results obtained using quantitative methods. The scenario-based activity was effective for improving the self-reported understanding of GHD-related skills. The scenario-based activity was also effective for developing the selected GHD-related skills (as self-reported). This scenario-based activity is likely to reduce cognitive load and avoid participant overload, thereby facilitating learning. Further research is required to elucidate its long-term impact on skills development.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Miguel Reina Ortiz, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, 13201 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard, MDC 56, Tampa, FL 33647. E-mail: miguelreina@usf.edu

Authors’ addresses: Miguel Reina Ortiz, Jaime Corvin, and Ismael Hoare, College of Public Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, E-mails: miguelreina@usf.edu, jcorvin1@usf.edu, and ihoare@usf.edu. Vinita Sharma, College of Public Health & Health Professions and College of Medicine, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, E-mail: vinita.sharma@ufl.edu. Jesse Casanova, USF Health, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL, E-mail: jcasanov@usf.edu.

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