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COVID-19 Contact Tracing Training: What Have We Learned?

Date: 4/26/2021 2:42 PM

Related Categories: TRAIN, Workforce Development

Topic: TRAIN, Workforce Development

Tag: Partnerships, Preparedness, TRAIN, Training, Workforce Development

Author: Abdullah Tauqeer

Abdullah Tauqeer, Project Associate, Public Health Foundation


​​​Over the past nine months, the Public Health Foundation (PHF) has received more than 170 requests for customized COVID-19 contact tracing training packages, a free service providing health departments with tailored packages of contact tracing training to meet their agencies’ specific training needs. About 25% of these requests have come from state, Tribal, local, and territorial health departments, and over 800 health department employees have been trained through this service. Other requests have come from academic institutions, nonprofit organizations, nursing homes, and international ministries of health, among others.


PHF’s contact tracing training service enables a health department to receive a package of training available through the TRAIN Learning Network from respected organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, Johns Hopkins University, and Northwest Center for Public Health Practice. These nationally available trainings are then combined with additional agency-specific training content, guidance documents, scripts, and other resources. Contact tracers use one learning platform to take training and access all documents and resources, enabling health departments to track and report on their progress.

What Have We Learned?
  • While health departments appreciated the ability to choose from a wide variety of trainings, they also appreciated being provided with a starting point – a set of contact tracing trainings developed for the CDC Foundation COVID-19 Corps, Foundational Training for COVID-19 Responders. Not having to create their own training packages from scratch saved health departments time and money, enabling them to keep their focus on the COVID-19 response. 
  • Health departments often requested that PHF add call scripts, privacy forms, and other agency-specific materials to their contact tracing training packages. The diversity of the resulting training packages reflected the unique needs of each jurisdiction. 
  • Requesting training packages through email or phone calls was a barrier. This was seen as too time-consuming. Once an online form was developed where a health department could simply click on what was wanted and submit the form, requests for contact tracing training packages dramatically increased.
  • Outreach about the service resulted in expanding knowledge about availability of contact tracing training, and thousands of individuals have completed contact tracing training​ openly available through TRAIN.
This service also was made available to the Public Health Institute (PHI) to support their work to enhance contact tracing efforts within three states. The functionality available in TRAIN prompted PHI to use TRAIN to make PHI’s training available to contact tracers in California, Oregon, and Washington. This resulted in increased access, use, and tracking of needed contact tracing training. 

The ability to customize and build on a standardized set of trainings through TRAIN provides needed training capacity and capabilities during an emergency. The success of the contact tracing training service has further demonstrated that this collaborative approach to customizing training can be used to address other complex public health issues such as vaccination, the opioid epidemic, and lead poisoning.

If you are interested in a customized contact tracing training package for your health department, visit this webpage to learn more. You can also reach out to me at atauqeer@phf.org with any questions, opportunities for collaboration, or recommendations for how TRAIN can be used to address other public health needs. 

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