Saint Louis, MO

Evidence-based public health methods boost practitioner skills, study

Steve Chao

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Ross Brownson serves as co-director of the Prevention ­Research CenterJoe Angeles/Washington University

ST. LOUIS, MO — A recent study conducted by a team of researchers from Washington University in St. Louis’ Brown School of Public Health and other institutions discovered that training in evidence-based public health methods boosts practitioner skill levels.

“To our knowledge, this is the first long-term evaluation of evidence-based public health (EBPH) training,” said Rebekah Jacob, research manager and lead author on the paper, “Long-Term Evaluation of a Course on Evidence-Based Public Health in the U.S. and Europe”, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“The EBPH course represents one important strategy for increasing the capacity, or individual skills, for evidence-based processes within public health practice,” said Ross Brownson, the Steven H. and Susan U. Lipstein Distinguished Professor and senior author. “Training programs such as the EBPH course cannot be treated as one-time events — they should be funded, integrated into ongoing workforce development efforts and tailored to local priorities.”

Ross Brownson is a co-director of the Prevention Research Center, and his research focuses on chronic illness prevention through increased physical activity.

From 2005 to 2019, the researchers performed five surveys of 723 course participants. The EBPH training is the most extensive of its kind, with participants from all 50 states, two U.S. territories, and other nations.

The most often mentioned advantages were recognizing methods to apply information in their work, obtaining new knowledge, and being a more decisive leader who promotes evidence-based approaches.

An EBPH course was first designed in 1997 for Missouri health department workers as the complexity of the public health workforce and the need for training in evidence-based approaches to public health concerns were recognized. The reach was then expanded to additional states and nations with the cooperation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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