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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

UAB Develops and Evaluates Novel Course to Teach about Dissemination and Implementation Science

Increasing the number and scope of training programs in dissemination and implementation (D&I) science is essential for scientific advancement and practice improvement. To date, however, few D&I courses have been developed within the context of public health students’ curricula, and still fewer D&I programs are available at academic researchers’ home institutions. To address this gap, Dr. Wynne E. Norton, assistant professor in the department of health behavior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, developed and evaluated a novel course designed to simultaneously teach both public health students and academic researchers about D&I science.

[Photo: Dr. Wynne E. Norton]

Dr. Norton described the format and content of the novel D&I in Health course offered to public health graduate students during the fall 2012 and fall 2013 semesters at UAB’s School of Public Health. In addition to traditional course structure, a novel mechanism — a collaborative learning project — was used to simultaneously teach public health students and academic researchers about D&I science. Participating students and academic researchers completed an online evaluation of the course at the end of each semester.

From 2012 to 2013, 24 students and 19 academic researchers participated in the course, and 23 students and 18 academic researchers completed the online course evaluation. Overall, public health students and academic researchers enjoyed the course (including the collaborative learning project), learned more about D&I science, and would recommend the course to others. Participants described positive aspects of the course and provided suggestions for improvement.

Dr. Norton’s evaluation data indicates that this novel course is feasible, acceptable, and an effective strategy for teaching public health students and academic researchers about D&I science. Suggestions for adapting and implementing this course at other academic institutions include involving different stakeholders as partners in the collaborative learning project, such as program managers at community-based organizations, health-care professionals in private practice, and/or policy makers from local or state health departments. Schools of public health may also consider developing a certificate program in D&I science or D&I-focused internships as an ongoing capacity-building partnership between academia and local health organizations.

“Advancing the Science and Practice of Dissemination and Implementation in Health: A Novel Course for Public Health Students and Academic Researchers” is published in the November/December issue of Public Health Reports.

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