A series of four workshops was organized at Dr. Sushila Nayar School of Public Health to celebrate the birth centenary year of a veteran of public health- Dr. Sushila Nayar.
Data Analysis using Epi-Info
Analyzing surveillance data on public health is vital to understand the distribution of illness and determinants of public health. With the right data analysis, it is now easier to follow the progress of diseases down to individual patients, detect outbreaks, keep track of unexpected increases and decreases in disease occurrence, and examine the effectiveness of disease control programs and policies.
Between 16 and 21 February 2015, a workshop was organized to help participants acquire skills on Data Analysis using EPi -Info. The workshop was funded by Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. The workshop was inaugurated by Dr. BS Garg, Secretary Kasturba Health Society. The workshop faculty Dr. Subodh Gupta, Dr. PR Deshmukh, Dr. Chetna Maliye, and Dr. Abhishek Raut from the Department of Community Medicine conducted the sessions and Mr. Bharambe, Associate Professor (Stat. & Demo.), Department of Community Medicine coordinated the workshop.
The resource persons demonstrated Epi-Info Software and gave hand on experience on designing of the questionnaire, data entry and programming for validation and consistency check of the data. A total of 19 participants from different states of India participated in the workshop.
Faculty and students together invested a lot of time in practicing the data handling and analysis of data. The other allied software like Open Epi and Anthro pack for analysis of nutritional data were also demonstrated.
Qualitative Methods in Health Research
For years, quantitative research—a left brain activity—dominated the medical research. Full of numbers, p values and confidence intervals, researchers would take pride in rejecting the null hypothesis to prove their point. Quantitative research—a right brain activity—was a Cinderella. It aimed at developing concepts that can help researchers understand social phenomena in natural settings, and emphasized the meanings, experiences and feelings of the participants. Qualitative methods depend on both critical and creative thinking and the balance between the two in conducting the study and interpreting its results.
Beginning 27 April 2015 and spanning a week, Dr. Sushila Nayar School of Public Health at MGIMS organized a workshop on Qualitative Methods in Health Research. The workshop was sponsored by the Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi. Mr. Mahendra Singh (Director Medical Education and Research, Government of India) and Dr. BS Garg (Secretary, Kasturba Health Society, Sevagram) inaugurated the workshop. Mr. PV Bahulekar, Social Scientist, Department of Community Medicine coordinated the sessions.
The resource persons taught the key strengths of quantitative research - it allows human insight and experience to develop new understandings of the world. And, the resource persons quickly emphasized, the very strength is also a weakness because it depends heavily on the researcher’s skills, creativity, training and intellect. Nineteen participants from four states—Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu—received a hands-on demonstration of Anthropac and Atlas ti, the qualitative data analysis software. They also learnt that the crucial question is no longer “what is the best research method?” but “what is the best research method for answering this question most effectively and efficiently?”
Basic Epidemiology: Study Design Options in Epidemiological Research
Dr. Sushila Nayar School of Public Health organized a Workshop on Basic Epidemiology: Study Design Options in Epidemiological Research” from 30 June - 4 July 2015. The workshop was targeted at postgraduate students and junior faculty in Community Medicine and other public health professionals with an objective to build skills in design, conduct and analysis of basic epidemiological study. In all 24 participants participated in this workshop.
The workshop, conducted in a participatory manner, focused on transfer of skills to participants by making them complete individual and group-based tasks. For each of the study designs, basic concepts were explained to the participants in a plenary; participants were then made to do individual exercises (e.g. sample size estimation, choosing appropriate study design for the research questions etc.). Finally during group work participants reviewed research papers based on those study designs and provided suggestions for improving the design and/or analysis of the reviewed articles. They also re-designed the studies by using knowledge gained during the workshop.
Participants also did a course evaluation that was conducted using the ‘retro-pre – post-test method’. The participants graded themselves on a scale that ranged from ‘0’ to ‘5’ for the eight competencies that were defined from Beginner (0) to Expert (5) for each of the study design. Most participants gave themselves a grade of ‘4’ in the post-test scores; a few of them felt confident enough to teach others how to design a study.
Capacity Building for Medical College Faculties in Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health & Nutrition Research
A Workshop on Capacity Building for Medical College faculties in Maternal, Neonatal, Child Health and Nutrition (MNCHN) Research was conducted at Dr. Sushila Nayar School of Public Health from 31 August to 4 September 2015.
The workshop was targeted at Senior Residents and Junior/Mid-level faculty in Community Medicine; Obstetrics and Gynaecology; Pediatrics and other Public health professionals. The objectives of the workshop were to help participants understand the role of research to develop cost-effective health interventions so as to influence MNCHN health policy and also to understand the processes and challenges for translating evidence from health systems research into health policy and practice. Another aim was to facilitate the formation of effective networks of trained professionals to share their experiences and success stories to facilitate learning from best practices of each other.
The participants were chosen, based on the concept note that they had to submit as an eligibility criterion for the workshop. The number of participants was limited to 15 so that individual attention could be given to each of the participants for developing proposals based on the concept note that they had submitted.
The workshop adopted ‘learning by doing’ approach for capacity building of the workshop participants. The workshop focused on making the participants identify the magnitude of MNCHN problems, gaps in the existing program/policies and preparing research proposals for addressing these gaps. The workshop adopted a variety of training methods for achieving its objectives e.g. panel discussion by experts, program/policy review, group work and presentation in plenary etc. The resource persons included a mix of public health experts, Paediatricians, Obstetricians and District Health Officer among others. The workshop also included sessions of preparing budget and using Logical framework analysis for effective program implementation and monitoring.
A participant at the concluding session of one the workshops aptly summed up what he learnt, “While qualitative and quantitative research may well investigate similar topics, each addresses a different type of question.” True, Holman succinctly explained why researchers need to get trained in the alternative arm of the healthcare research: “true understanding in medicine cannot be achieved without adding qualitative methods to the research arsenal.”