Assessment of Public Health Core Competencies to COVID-19 Contact Tracers

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Public health agencies rapidly hired contact tracers to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 without time to properly recruit or prepare staff. This research investigated the skill levels of those contact tracers based on public health core competencies. This study utilized a retrospective pre- and post-survey to capture responses from COVID-19 contact tracers employed at a local health jurisdiction in Southern California. A paired samples t-test was completed on the public health core competency means to determine if the contact tracers’ understanding of public health core competencies changed after working in this role. Results determined a significant improvement in the understanding of public health core competencies from the pre- to post-survey. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was completed to determine if public health core competency scores were impacted by specific job tasks a contact tracer may have and revealed no significant core competency difference based on job task. Lastly, an independent samples t-test was performed to determine if contact tracers with formal public health academic training scored higher in public health core competency pretests than those without public health academic training. Results determined individuals with formal public health academic training scored significantly higher in half of the core competency groupings compared to individuals without public health academic training. These results may help stakeholders understand public health workforce recruitment and training practices and encourage other public health agencies to prioritize creating a robust workforce.
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Master of Public Health
Public Health, Health Care Management