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J Community Health. 2018 Oct;43(5):856-863. doi: 10.1007/s10900-018-0494-0.

Lessons Learned in Promoting Evidence-Based Public Health: Perspectives from Managers in State Public Health Departments.

Author information

1
Prevention Research Center, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1196, St. Louis, MO, 63130, USA. pegallen@wustl.edu.
2
Prevention Research Center, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, One Brookings Drive, Campus Box 1196, St. Louis, MO, 63130, USA.
3
Pennsylvania Department of Health, and Senior Consultant, National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, Orrtanna, PA, USA.
4
Division of Public Health Sciences and Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University School of Medicine, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO, USA.

Abstract

Evidence-based public health (EBPH) practice, also called evidence-informed public health, can improve population health and reduce disease burden in populations. Organizational structures and processes can facilitate capacity-building for EBPH in public health agencies. This study involved 51 structured interviews with leaders and program managers in 12 state health department chronic disease prevention units to identify factors that facilitate the implementation of EBPH. Verbatim transcripts of the de-identified interviews were consensus coded in NVIVO qualitative software. Content analyses of coded texts were used to identify themes and illustrative quotes. Facilitator themes included leadership support within the chronic disease prevention unit and division, unit processes to enhance information sharing across program areas and recruitment and retention of qualified personnel, training and technical assistance to build skills, and the ability to provide support to external partners. Chronic disease prevention leaders' role modeling of EBPH processes and expectations for staff to justify proposed plans and approaches were key aspects of leadership support. Leaders protected staff time in order to identify and digest evidence to address the common barrier of lack of time for EBPH. Funding uncertainties or budget cuts, lack of political will for EBPH, and staff turnover remained challenges. In conclusion, leadership support is a key facilitator of EBPH capacity building and practice. Section and division leaders in public health agencies with authority and skills can institute management practices to help staff learn and apply EBPH processes and spread EBPH with partners.

KEYWORDS:

Administration; Chronic disease prevention; Evidence-based public health; Health promotion; Public health departments

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