Social and physical environments, health related behaviors, genetic dispositions and the health care system influence the health profile of a population. It has been found that differences in health-related behavior, such as smoking, physical activity and diet, are responsible for much of the health differences in the population. Socioeconomic and cultural influences play an important role for these behavioral aspects. Environmental factors like air pollution may have a smaller effect on the health of an individual, but affect the health of the entire population, thus are of great public health relevance, too. Also the impact of health system factors like rationing and particular insurance schemes on the health of the population can be relevant especially to the health of socio-economically disadvantaged populations.
Aiming at providing scientific evidence for effective health policies in Switzerland public health research investigates the distribution of risk factors and protective influences in order to provide a sound basis for the development of health promotion and prevention strategies. For this purpose a thorough knowledge of how external factors interact with the organism is necessary to provide the scientific basis for adequate preventive interventions as well as for the development of new forms of treatment.
Aims and objectives:
In Switzerland still many research gaps have been identified as regards evidence-based health promotion and prevention despite its well-developed, high-standard curative medicine (OECD report on Switzerland 2006). A joint effort is required to train skilled professionals and to strengthen public health research in the country.
Recently several Swiss Universities created the possibility to obtain a PhD degree in Public Health (e.g. the national MD-PhD program). Swiss public health research institutes are involved in a series of national and international research projects and collaborations, which in principle provide opportunities to young scientists to gain expertise. But this research experience needs to be accompanied by high-level training in order to provide comprehensive doctoral training at an internationally competitive level. Therefore a national PhD training program in public health was initiated: The SSPH+ PhD Program Public Health aims at combining forces with respect to doctoral training nationally. A national training program is vital given the interdisciplinary composition of public health research, ranging from clinical to environmental sciences, molecular and infection biology, epidemiology, work and health research, geography, social and behavioral sciences and health economics.
The SSPH+ PhD Program Public Health consists of three components:
1.A portfolio to strengthen the collaboration between supervisors and students. In the portfolio the competencies that are to be achieved by the student are determined, and the support he or she can expect from the supervisor and the program (courses, networking). Competences include scientific skills (e.g. proposal writing, data analysis and scientific writing), personal and other leadership skills (including communication and negotiation skills), (research) project management, familiarity with ethics and equity issues and with basic ideas on health systems development.
2.A training program consisting of course modules covering general research skills, advanced methods skills, and thematic issues. This includes public health priorities and problem analysis, study planning, study design, study conduct, data analysis and publication/ dissemination of results.
3.Networking opportunities are offered in the context of thematic workshops/courses at national and international level.