gms | German Medical Science

19. Deutscher Kongress für Versorgungsforschung

Deutsches Netzwerk Versorgungsforschung e. V.

30.09. - 01.10.2020, digital

COVID-19 and demand for global health in medical education: Findings from a survey at Medical School Hannover

Meeting Abstract

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  • Annika Kreitlow - Globalisation and Health Initiative – GandHI, bvmd – Bundesvertretung der Medizinstudierenden Deutschland e.V., Berlin, Deutschland; Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Hannover, Deutschland
  • Sandra Steffens - Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Studiendekanat, Hannover, Deutschland
  • Ellen Kuhlmann - Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Institut für Epidemiologie, Sozialmedizin und Gesundheitssystemforschung, Hannover, Deutschland

19. Deutscher Kongress für Versorgungsforschung (DKVF). sine loco [digital], 30.09.-01.10.2020. Düsseldorf: German Medical Science GMS Publishing House; 2020. Doc20dkvf246

doi: 10.3205/20dkvf246, urn:nbn:de:0183-20dkvf2469

Published: September 25, 2020

© 2020 Kreitlow et al.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License. See license information at



Background and current state of (inter)national research: Global health has since recently been marginal in medical training and undergraduate education, yet COVID-19 is now teaching us new lessons in local–global interconnectedness.

Research questions and objectives: This study aims to strengthen global health in medical education and training. Major objectives include: to assess demand for global health education in the group of students and staff/teachers and the impact of COVID-19; to identify key areas of global health to be included in the curriculum; to explore demand for organisational support.

Methods: Online surveys were carried out at Medical School Hannover, Germany, drawing on an established evaluation system for teaching. Target groups were undergraduate medical students (n=384) and teachers (n=172). Material was gathered from end of March 2020 until 19 April 2020. The surveys draw on a written questionnaire, which was specified for the two groups, comprising standardised items (primarily likert-scales) and open questions. Descriptive statistical analysis and content analysis were undertaken.

Results: Demand for global health education has increased markedly in all groups, but strongest in the group of students in the preclinical phase. This included a broad range of topics, e.g. medical issues like immunisation and tropical diseases, knowledge into health systems and policy, climate, and environmental health. Students had mixed perceptions of support and information on the COVID-19 situation, while most teachers judged information and management of the pandemic as ‘good’ or ‘very good’. Teachers showed strong interest in education tools and institutional support mechanism to improve their knowledge in global health. Interestingly, students felt that global health education helps them to be prepared for their future job, while this perception was weaker among teachers.

Discussion: There is evidence for growing demand for global health in undergraduate education and training of doctors, which is strongest in the youngest cohorts and thus likely to increase in future. This is a novel situation for Germany, which calls for systematic changes in education and management. The material provides suggestions on the substance of global health education and the management tools and incentives, which may support sustainable implementation of global health education.

Practical implications: There is an urgent need for action to strengthen global health in medical education and training and to step up efforts to develop programmes and tools to respond to growing demand especially from students.