Ten Years of Evidence-Based Training in Europe Proves Effective

Community Engagement; PhD; Public Health; Research

Public-health professionals in Europe reported that a course in evidence-based public health helped them acquire knowledge that was useful in their work and strengthened their leadership role in promoting better decision-making, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

Since 2002, the Prevention Resource Center at the Brown School has taught the annual course, “Evidence-Based Public Health (EBPH): A Course in Noncommunicable Disease Prevention,” in collaboration with international organizations and funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The purpose of the course has been to strengthen the capacity of public health professionals to apply and adapt evidence-based programs in disease prevention.

Researchers surveyed 188 public health professionals who participated in the course during the period from 2007-2016, and conducted in-depth, qualitative interviews with 20 of them.

Results showed that participants understood the importance of using reliable sources and sound data; they also noted the value of being able to accurately evaluate programs.  Barriers to EBPH included a lack of funding and time, as well as training deficits in co-workers. Similar results have been found in surveys of U.S. participants in the class, but the European study was the first to assess the impact of the course over a decade.

“Targeting those in leadership roles may help facilitate the growth of evidence-based decision-making across different countries,” wrote the study’s lead author, Natalicio Serranno, a doctoral student at the Prevention Research Center.  

The paper was published April 3 in Global Health Promotion.