Online Program

Health in All Policies: Teaching Evidence-Based Policy in an Inter-professional Undergraduate Elective

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:45 a.m.

Maria Gilson deValpine, RN MSN PhD, Department of Nursing, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Matthew Jones, MPA PhD, Hatfield School of Government, Portland State University, Portland, OR

This study was conducted to understand if a mixed group of undergraduate students could analyze population health data accurately, make evidence-based policy recommendations, and advocate for an important local community health policy (1st tri-mester prenatal care access).  


The course was a 2-credit on-line/in-class health policy elective, team-taught by multi-disciplinary faculty. Pre- and post-tests for policy knowledge were analyzed, as were student statistical exercises, policy briefs, and course evaluations.


A paired-samples t test was conducted to evaluate student scores on a policy knowledge inventory. Mean scores on the post test (M=10.0, SD= 3.72) were significantly greater than the pre test (M=7.06, SD= 1.80), t(15)= -5.65, p <.001; 95% CI -4.05 to -1.83). Without significant faculty support, students were unable to calculate simple percentages from a 2 variable Excel file derived from local vital statistics records. Policy briefs were successful using the Johns Hopkins MCH Policy brief checklist. Student course evaluations revealed increased policy knowledge and comfort with the policy process, and grave dissatisfaction with the amount of work required in this elective course.


Learning outcomes were positive, however, student evaluations were brutal. The course was significantly revised with substantial “scaffolding” for statistical exercises, the team-teaching format was eliminated, and the course is now offered exclusively on-line. This has had the effect of attracting a different caliber of students (mostly nursing), currently enrolled, who have received the revised course well.

Learning Areas:

Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs

Learning Objectives:
Analyze limitations of inter-professional health policy education for preprofessional students. Apply course evaluations to health policy education. Identify student groups appropriate for advocating evidence-based health policy.

Keyword(s): Nursing Education, Evidence-Based Practice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I developed and taught this course.
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.