Building the Capacity – Examining the Impact of Evidence-Based Public Health Trainings in Europe: A Mixed Methods Approach
Since 2002, a course entitled ‘Evidence-Based Public Health (EBPH): A Course in Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Prevention’ has been taught annually in Europe as a collaboration between the Prevention Research Center in St Louis and other international organizations. The core purpose of this training is to strengthen the capacity of public health professionals, in order to apply and adapt evidence-based programmes in NCD prevention. The purpose of the present study is to assess the effectiveness of this EBPH course, in order to inform and improve future EBPH trainings.
A total of 208 individuals participated in the European EBPH course between 2007 and 2016. Of these, 86 (41%) completed an online survey. Outcomes measured include frequency of use of EBPH skills/materials/resources, benefits of using EBPH and barriers to using EBPH. Analysis was performed to see if time since taking the course affected EBPH effectiveness. Participants were then stratified by frequency of EBPH use (low v. high) and asked to participate in in-depth telephone interviews to further examine the long-term impact of the course (n = 11 (6 low use, 5 high use)).
The most commonly reported benefits among participants included: acquiring knowledge about a new subject (95%), seeing applications for this knowledge in their own work (84%), and becoming a better leader to promote evidence-based decision-making (82%). Additionally, not having enough funding for continued training in EBPH (44%), co-workers not having EBPH training (33%) and not having enough time to implement EBPH approaches (30%) were the most commonly reported barriers to using EBPH. Interviews indicated that work-place and leadership support were important in facilitating the use of EBPH.
Although the EBPH course effectively benefits participants, barriers remain towards widely implementing evidence-based approaches. Reaching and communicating with those in leadership roles may facilitate the growth of EBPH across countries.