Research Methods for Need Assessments


Course Objective

• The overall goal is to acquire insights, skills and attitudes
regarding various quantitative and qualitative research methods used for
conducting needs assessment, analysis of international public health
problems, epidemiological
investigation, field surveys to strengthen public health surveillances
and understand the relative strengths and weaknesses of the various
research methods
• To be able to make an adequate research design for the analysis
of a specific health problem (theory, concepts and design)
• To acquire knowledge and skills in interview techniques,
questionnaire design, and focus groups (data collection)
• To acquire insight in ways to involve community members and
patients to include their views and jointly decide on the needs and
priorities. This includes interactive and participatory methods for
transdisciplinary research, such as focus groups, diagramming, mapping
and other visualisation techniques (participative data collection)
• To know how to interpret quantitative and qualitative findings in
the context of international public health (data analysis)

Course Content

This course focuses on the knowledge, skills and attitude needed to
design and conduct research in the field of international public health,
with a specific focus on needs assessments. Before planning
a health intervention, a thorough epidemiological, behavioural and
social analysis of quality of life, health problems, health related
behaviours, their causes and contributing factors should be conducted.
The social context, environmental factors and community capacity should
be investigated. To achieve results, it is necessary for health workers
to (1) work with other sectors in a so called inter-sectoral approach,
and (2) work with the community, since communities have relevant
knowledge which increases the quality of the interventions and ownership
of the implementation process. In other words, a transdisciplinary
approach is required.
A variety of qualitative and quantitative methods can be employed.
During this course the most essential research methods will be
addressed and practiced: questionnaires, surveys and epidemiological
statistics, semi-structured in-depth interviews, as well as several
interactive and participatory methods, such as focus group discussions,
diagramming, mapping and other visualisation techniques. Strengths and
weaknesses of each research method and technique will be discussed, as
well as the possibility to apply them in resource-poor settings and in
different communities.
Throughout the course, students will apply the acquired theoretical
knowledge by conducting and presenting their own mini-study in small

Teaching Methods

‘Research methods for needs assessments’ is a fulltime course of four
weeks (6 ECTS). The total study time is 160 hours. Tuition methods
include lectures, training workshops, and self-study.

The different elements have the following study time:
- lectures 18.5 hours
- workshops and training 31.5 hours
- (project) self study 107 hours
- examination 3 hours
Attendance to the workshops and training is compulsory

Method of Assessment

The course grade is based on the study design and the exam. Both aspects
have to be concluded with the grade of 5.5 or higher.
Exam : 50% of total grade
Study-Design: 50% of total grade

Entry Requirements

Knowledge of epidemiology and SPSS is a prerequisite to gain access to
this course.
For further information please contact


Verschuren, P. and Doorewaards, H. (2010) Designing a research project
(2nd edition) Eleven International Publishing, The Hague.

Gray, D.E. (2014) Doing Research in the Real World (3rd edition)Sage
Publications Ltd, Los Angeles.

Target Audience

Compulsory course within the Master specialization International Public
Health of the Master programmes Health Sciences and Biomedical Sciences.
Optional course within the Master specialization Infectious Diseases
(master programme Biomedical Sciences). In any other
circumstances admission should be requested from the course coordinator.

General Information

Course Code AM_470817
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. D.R. Essink
Examiner dr. D.R. Essink
Teaching Staff dr. D.R. Essink
prof. dr. M.B.M. Zweekhorst
dr. B.J. Regeer
dr. J.F.H. Kupper
U.O.C. Ilozumba

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Study Group, Computer lab
Target audiences

This course is also available as: