Courses in evidence-based public health taught by local-level faculty improved the ability of public health practitioners to make scientifically informed decisions at work, according to research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis and the College for Public Health and Social Justice at Saint Louis University.
Researchers surveyed 144 public-health practitioners from Indiana, Colorado, Nebraska, and Kansas who had participated in the courses. The training had been developed by the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis, which then launched programs to train local-level instructors in order to make it more widely available.
Of those surveyed, 85 percent said the course had been useful in their work and nearly 80 percent agreed it helped them make scientifically informed decisions and become better leaders. The most common reasons for not using course content included lack of time, funding and training for colleagues.
“This evaluation suggests that the train-the-trainer method has increased the capacity of practitioners while maintaining fidelity with the original objectives of the course,” wrote Dr. Ross C. Brownson, Bernard Becker Professor at the Brown School and senior author of the study. He added that local trainers can tailor the course for their audiences, enhance collaboration and reduce the cost of expanding the program.
The paper was published December 12 in BMC Health Services Research. Its lead author was Ms. Laura Yarber, at the time of the study an MPH student at Saint Louis University.
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