Online Program

Resources for best practices in decision making in US local health departments: Variation across program area

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 1:10 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Katherine Stamatakis, PhD, MPH, Division of Public Health Sciences, Washington University in St. Louis, St Louis, MO
Kathleen Duggan, MPH, MS, RD, Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Carson Smith, MPA, Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, MO
Robert Fields, Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, MO
Ross C. Brownson, PhD, The Brown School & Prevention Research Center of St. Louis, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
Background. Public health practitioners incorporate evidence from various sources to make decisions on how to improve public health system performance and health outcomes. Knowledge about resources that comprise the evidence base and inform best practices in public health administration is lacking, particularly in local health departments (LHDs). Methods. We analyzed data from the Local Evidence Affecting Decisions in Public Health study to examine resources for evidence-based decision-making (EBDM) among LHDs. The cross-sectional survey assessed LHD practitioners' use of resources for EBDM in policy and program development (9 items) and for learning about the latest research findings (15 items), in addition to demographics, organizational context, barriers to EBDM, and core competencies in EBDM. Participants included LHD practitioners in three program areas: chronic disease (n=99), infectious disease (n=113), and environmental health (n=100) (preliminary response rates: 59%, 64%, and 56%, respectively). Analyses included descriptive statistics and chi-square tests to assess differences in proportions across groups. Results. Overall, the most commonly ranked resources guiding EBDM in policy and program planning included state agencies (58%), funders (52%) and agency leadership (48%). Patterns differed with respect to program area. Systematic reviews and health planning tools were more highly ranked in chronic disease (p<.05), while individual scientific studies were a top resource in infectious disease (p<.05). The most commonly ranked resources for recent research findings were seminars (53%), professional associations (36%), academic journals (34%), and email alerts (32%). Across programs, social media use was more common in chronic disease while professional associations were a more common resource in infectious disease. Conclusions. These findings provide insights into commonly used resources guiding EBDM in LHD program and policy development. Differences in resource utilization across program area suggest global strategies to improve EBDM may need to be tailored differently to various practitioner groups at the local level.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify resources for evidence-based decision making in local health departments and how this varies across three major program areas: chronic disease prevention, infectious disease control, and environmental health.

Keyword(s): Evidence Based Practice, Local Public Health Agencies

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal, co-principal, or co-investigator on a number of funded research projects focusing on public health services and systems. Specifically, I am interested in studying factors related to the implementation of evidence-informed programs and policies in local public health settings, particularly in relation to chronic disease prevention.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.