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Am J Prev Med. 2017 Mar;52(3S3):S304-S308. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2016.10.010.

Learning About and Using Research Evidence Among Public Health Practitioners.

Author information

Nine Network of Public Media, St. Louis, Missouri. Electronic address:
Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri.
South Dakota Department of Health, Pierre, South Dakota.
Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri; School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri.



Funders and accreditation standards increasingly call on state and local public health agencies to use the best available science. Using research evidence is a key process in practicing evidence-based decision making (EBDM). This study explored preferences for and uses of research evidence, and examined correlates regarding frequency of use.


In 2014, eligible staff from 12 state health departments and their partnering agencies were invited to complete an online self-report questionnaire and achieved an 82% response rate (1,237/1,509). The cross-sectional data analyzed in 2015 were baseline to a study on enhancing EBDM capacity and supports.


Webinars/workshops was the most frequently selected method to learn public health findings among those in state and local health departments, whereas academic journals was the top selection by those in universities and healthcare facilities (p<0.001). Several modifiable EBDM practices were associated with more frequent use of research evidence, including direct supervisor expectations for EBDM use and performance evaluation based partially on EBDM use (AOR=2.5, 95% CI=1.9, 3.2 and AOR=2.5, 95% CI=2.1, 2.9, respectively). Increased numbers of EBDM practices were associated with higher odds of frequent research evidence use. Participant characteristics associated with higher research evidence use and adjusted for were job role, education attainment, and gender.


To translate research into public health practice, researchers can tailor evidence on intervention implementation and effectiveness and disease burden to accessible and preferred formats for public health workers and partners. Management practices to support evidence-based disease prevention can be instituted and fostered in public health and partnering agencies.

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