Increasing medical students' engagement in public health: case studies illustrating the potential role of online learning

Jessica Sheringham, Anna Lyon, Anna Jones, Judith Strobl, Helen Barratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The value of e-learning in medical education is widely recognized but there is little evidence of its value in teaching medical students about public health. Such evidence is needed because medical students' engagement with public health has been low. We present three recent case studies from UK medical schools to illustrate diverse ways in which online approaches can increase medical students' engagement with learning public health.

A comparative case study approach was used applying quantitative and qualitative data to examine engagement in terms of uptake/use amongst eligible students, acceptability and perceived effectiveness using an analytic framework based on Seven Principles of Effective Teaching.

Across the three case studies, most (67–85%) eligible students accessed online materials, and rated them more favourably than live lectures. Students particularly valued opportunities to use e-learning flexibly in terms of time and place. Online technologies offered new ways to consolidate learning of key public health concepts. Although students found contributing to online discussions challenging, it provided opportunities for students to explore concepts in depth and enabled students that were uncomfortable speaking in face-to-face discussions to participate.

E-learning can be applied in diverse ways that increase medical student engagement with public health teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e316-e324
JournalJournal of Public Health
Issue number3
Early online date20 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 17 Oct 2016


  • education
  • educational settings
  • employment and skills
  • public health


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