Educating, training, and exercising for infectious disease control with emphasis on cross-border settings: An integrative review

Doret de Rooij*, Evelien Belfroid, Christos Hadjichristodoulou, Varvara Mouchtouri, Jörg Raab, Aura Timen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
113 Downloads (Pure)


Points of entry and other border regions educate, train, and exercise (ETEs) their staff to improve preparedness and response to cross-border health threats. However, no conclusive knowledge of these ETEs’ effectiveness exists. This study aimed to review the literature on ETEs in infectious disease control concerning their methods and effect, with an emphasis on cross-border settings and methods that enlarge ETEs’ reach.

We systematically searched for studies in the databases Embase, Medline, Web of Science, PsycInfo, ERIC, and Cinahl. After successively screening titles and abstracts, full-texts, and citations, 62 studies were included using in- and exclusion criteria. Data were extracted using a data-extraction form. Quality assessment was performed. We developed a theoretical framework based on which we analyzed the ETE context (target group, recruitment, autonomy, training needs), input (topic, trainers, development and quality of materials), process (design, duration, interval, goals), evaluation (pre-, post- follow-up tests), and outcome (reaction, learning, behavior, and system). Results: We found a limited number of published evaluations of ETEs in general (n=62) and of cross-border settings (n=5) in particular. The quality assessment resulted in seven ETE methodologies and 23 evaluations with a ‘good’ score. Both general studies and those in a cross-border setting contain a low-moderate detail level on context, input, and process. The evaluations were performed on reaction (n=45), learning (n=45), behavior (n=9)and system(n=4), mainly using pre- and post-tests (n=22). Online learning methods have a high potential in enlarging the reach and are effective, particularly in combination with offline training. Training-of-trainer approaches are effective for learning; new ETEs were developed by 20–44% of participants until six months after the initial training.

Our study reveals a limited number of publications on ETEs in infectious disease control. Studies provide few details on methodology, and use mainly short-term evaluations and low level outcomes. We call for more extensive, higher-level evaluation standards of ETEs, and an easy and sustainable way to exchange evaluations within the workforce of infectious disease control in cross-border settings. The theoretical framework developed in this study could guide future development and evaluation of ETEs in infectious disease control.
Original languageEnglish
Article number78
Number of pages49
JournalGlobalization and Health
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cross-border
  • Education
  • Exercise
  • Infectious diseases
  • Public health
  • Training
  • Training-of-trainers


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