Non-technical skills used by Public Health professionals working in an emergency response environment

  • Andrew Black

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Health (DHealth)


Public Health staff responding to emergencies with a health impact, work in increasingly complex environments, where multiple stakeholders work alongside each other. These complex, multiteam systems produce a unique set of challenges for responders, due to their fluidity and lack of central leadership. Non-technical skills (cognitive and social skills that complement and enhance technical skills) have been identified as requirements for successful emergency and humanitarian response and are particularly relevant where multiple teams from different sectors are required to work together.

The aim of this study, is to describe the use of non-technical skills at a meso (systems) level, used by Public Health professionals working in emergency response.

Data from 10 key-informant cognitive decision method interviews and a cross-sectional qualitative survey of 46 public health staff, were used to compare core non-technical skills used in a variety of sectors, with those used by public health responders working in a multiteam emergency response. Thematic analysis was used to develop a description of the multiteam response environment and the non-technical skills used by public health staff working in it.

This study adds to research on non-technical skills used in multiteam systems. It indicates that multi-sector emergency response should be examined in the context of multiteam systems; and that the response environment combines formal emergency management systems and a series of ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ networks which are used by public health responders to collaborate across teams. Collaboration in this complex environment is enhanced by enabling leadership, joint sensemaking, joint decision-making and personal relationship building to establish and enhance mutual trust.
Date of Award29 Mar 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJulie Gore (Supervisor), Nikki Coghill (Supervisor) & Mark Salter (Supervisor)


  • Non-Technical Skill (NTS)
  • multiteam systems
  • emergency response
  • Public Health

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