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Prev Chronic Dis. 2013 Sep 5;10:E148. doi: 10.5888/pcd10.130120.

Training the workforce in evidence-based public health: an evaluation of impact among US and international practitioners.

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  • 1The Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, 621 N Skinker Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63130. wsgibbert@gmail.com

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The Prevention Research Center in St. Louis developed a course on evidence-based public health in 1997 to train the public health workforce in implementation of evidence-based public health. The objective of this study was to assess use and benefits of the course and identify barriers to using evidence-based public health skills as well as ways to improve the course.

METHODS:

We used a mixed-method design incorporating on-site pre- and post-evaluations among US and international course participants who attended from 2008 through 2011 and web-based follow-up surveys among course participants who attended from 2005 through 2011 (n = 626). Respondents included managers, specialists, and academics at state health departments, local health departments, universities, and national/regional health departments.

RESULTS:

We found significant improvement from pre- to post-evaluation for 11 measures of knowledge, skill, and ability. Follow-up survey results showed at least quarterly use of course skills in most categories, majority endorsement of most course benefits, and lack of funding and coworkers who do not have evidence-based public health training as the most significant barriers to implementation of evidence-based public health. Respondents suggested ways to increase evidence-based decision making at their organization, focusing on organizational support and continued access to training.

CONCLUSION:

Although the evidence-based public health course is effective in improving self-reported measures of knowledge, skill, and ability, barriers remain to the implementation of evidence-based decision making, demonstrating the importance of continuing to offer and expand training in evidence-based public health.

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