Controlling Chronic Diseases Through Evidence-Based Decision Making: A Group-Randomized Trial

Ross C. Brownson, Peg Allen, Rebekah R. Jacob, Anna deRuyter, Meenakshi Lakshman, Rodrigo S. Reis, Yan Yan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Although practitioners in state health departments are ideally positioned to implement evidence-based interventions, few studies have examined how to build their capacity to do so. The objective of this study was to explore how to increase the use of evidence-based decision-making processes at both the individual and organization levels.

METHODS: We conducted a 2-arm, group-randomized trial with baseline data collection and follow-up at 18 to 24 months. Twelve state health departments were paired and randomly assigned to intervention or control condition. In the 6 intervention states, a multiday training on evidence-based decision making was conducted from March 2014 through March 2015 along with a set of supplemental capacity-building activities. Individual-level outcomes were evidence-based decision making skills of public health practitioners; organization-level outcomes were access to research evidence and participatory decision making. Mixed analysis of covariance models was used to evaluate the intervention effect by accounting for the cluster randomized trial design. Analysis was performed from March through May 2017.

RESULTS: Participation 18 to 24 months after initial training was 73.5%. In mixed models adjusted for participant and state characteristics, the intervention group improved significantly in the overall skill gap (P = .01) and in 6 skill areas. Among the 4 organizational variables, only access to evidence and skilled staff showed an intervention effect (P = .04).

CONCLUSION: Tailored and active strategies are needed to build capacity at the individual and organization levels for evidence-based decision making. Our study suggests several dissemination interventions for consideration by leaders seeking to improve public health practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number170326
Pages (from-to)E121
JournalPreventing chronic disease
StatePublished - Nov 30 2017


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