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NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Using problem-based learning in public health service based training Volume 18 Issue 1-2

Gaynor S. Heading, Jeffrey D. Fuller, David M. Lyle, D. Lynne Madden

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 18(2) 8–13 Published online: 11 May 2007

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About the author/s

Gaynor S. Heading

Jeffrey D. Fuller

David M. Lyle

D. Lynne Madden


This study explored the suitability and benefits of problem-based learning (PBL) in competency-based postgraduate public health training. The PBL was delivered within a rural retreat and included site visits. Qualitative semistructured interviews with trainee public health officers and key informants. The learning approach (retreat–PBL combination with site visits) was valuable and relevant. Trainees reported a high learning impact with increased knowledge about the problems examined and rural public health practice. They also expressed an openness to work rurally. Collaboratively developed and delivered, experiential rural public health PBL provides a positive learning experience for trainees undertaking competency-based training in public health and could play an important workforce role. PBL appears to be suitable in rural and non-rural public health training settings.