What Do We Know About Scaling Up Evidence-Based Public Health Training?

Evidence-based public health (EBPH) training has been shown to improve the knowledge and skills of public health practitioners. However, training opportunities are often limited. EBPH train-the-trainer courses were initiated in 2010 to build states’ capacity to train additional staff by replicating the course using local trainers. NACDD and the Prevention Research Center in St. Louis interviewed EBPH training coordinators in eight states to learn about course delivery formats and get their perspectives on barriers and success factors for course replication.

Locally-offered courses were often tailored to include state-specific cases and data. In the sites interviewed, EBPH training was also delivered in a variety of formats – in person, distance, and blended versions that included some web-based and some live learning sessions. The training coordinators reported advantages and disadvantages to the different formats. For example, in-person formats provided opportunities for focused learning and interaction with colleagues and trainers, while fully distant courses afforded greater reach, lower travel costs and flexibility in timing for course completion. Blended courses shared some of the advantages and disadvantages of in-person and distance courses.

Success factors for replication reported by these sites included having skilled coordinators and trainers; organizational incentives; leadership support; adequate funding; collaborators (e.g., schools of public health, public health training centers, area health education centers); the infrastructure to support training; and existing models and materials. Some of the challenges to continuing the course included staff/trainer turnover; lack of dedicated staff/trainer time for replication; lack of stable funding; and finding qualified and willing trainers.

Lessons learned from states that have been able to continue training their colleagues and partners can serve as a guide to other states committed to building and sustaining capacity for evidence-based public health practice. They may also apply more generally to other workforce development efforts.