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01.12.2014 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2014 Open Access

Human Resources for Health 1/2014

Outcome and impact of Master of Public Health programs across six countries: education for change

Human Resources for Health > Ausgabe 1/2014
Prisca AC Zwanikken, Nguyen Thanh Huong, Xiao Hua Ying, Lucy Alexander, Marwa SE Abuzaid Wadidi, Laura Magaña-Valladares, Maria Cecilia Gonzalez-Robledo, Xu Qian, Nguyen Nhat Linh, Hanan Tahir, Jimmie Leppink, Albert Scherpbier
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1478-4491-12-40) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

PZ is KIT’s MPH program director, and wrote this article during her sabbatical. Dr Hanan Tahir is the MPH program director at UMST.

Authors’ contributions

PZ conceived the article. PZ, LA, NTH, QX, LMV, XHY, MCGR, MAW, and HT were all involved in enriching the original research idea and data collection. JL performed the initial statistical analysis. PZ wrote the first draft of the article. All authors contributed to data analysis, writing, and review. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.



The human resources for health crisis has highlighted the need for high-level public health education to add specific capacities to the workforce. Recently, it was questioned whether Master of Public Health (MPH) training prepared graduates with competencies relevant to low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). This study aims to examine the influence of the MPH programs geared towards LMICs offered in Vietnam, China, South Africa, Mexico, Sudan, and the Netherlands on graduates’ careers, application of acquired competencies, performance at the workplace, and their professional contribution to society.


A self-administered questionnaire was sent to graduates from six MPH programs. Frequency distributions of the answers were calculated, and a bivariate analysis and logistic regression of certain variables was performed.


The response rate was 37.5%. Graduates reported change in leadership (69%), in technical position (69%), acquiring new responsibilities (80%), and increased remuneration (63%); they asserted that MPH programs contributed significantly to this. Graduates’ attribution of their application of 7 key competencies ‘substantially to the MPH program’ ranged from 33% to 48%. Of the 26 impact variables, graduates attributed the effect they had on their workplace substantially to the MPH program; the highest rated variable ranged from 31% to 73% and the lowest ranged from 9% to 43%. Of the 10 impact variables on society, graduates attributed the effect they had on society substantially to the MPH program; for the highest rated variable (13% to 71%); for the lowest rated variable (4% to 42%). Candidates’ attribution of their application of acquired competencies as well as their impact at the workplace varied significantly according to institution of study and educational background.


This study concludes that these MPH programs contribute to improving graduates’ careers and to building leadership in public health. The MPH programs contribute to graduates’ application of competencies. MPH programs contribute substantially towards impact variables on the workplace, such as development of research proposals and reporting on population health needs, and less substantially to their impact on society, such as contributing equitable access to quality services. Differences reported between MPH programs merit further study. The results can be used for curriculum reform.
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