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Public Health Pronto: Module 11.1

Public Health Pronto: Module 11.1

Evidence-Based Decision Making

Module 11.1: 5-Minute Introduction

In this module we provide background on the competency as well as context and information about our learning activities via a video podcast (see below). We also provide a context for you to Learn more about the competency and to start a conversation, so please Comment on what you have learned and Interact with others who have commented.


Quality improvement and the need for evidence-based programming and policymaking continue to be a top priority for states as they work towards achieving the Healthy People 2020 objectives to improve health outcomes for women, children, and families. Generally speaking, the term “evidence” refers to information that has been systematically obtained in a manner that is replicable, observable, and verifiable. This type of evidence is often published in the scientific literature. However, there are other important domains of evidence to consider within the broad environmental and organizational context. To achieve the best possible health outcomes, the MCH workforce will need to examine experiential and contextual forms of evidence, drawing on the collective experiences and expertise of multiple stakeholders while taking into consideration the unique characteristics of their own communities.

In response to ever-tightening budgets, public health staffers need to ensure that the decisions they make about their programs, practices, and policies are based on sound, thoroughly evaluated evidence. Data-driven decision-making skills are essential as national and state health reforms continue to be implemented and Title V programs are held accountable for national performance measures.

Evidence Based Decision Making is a process that synthesizes the best available research evidence with experiential evidence from the field and relevant evidence from the context in which the program, policy or practice will take place.

The decision-making process involves three steps:

  • First, staffers must gather all of the forms of evidence I just named.
  • Then, they need to interpret that evidence, which includes evaluating its strength and how well it fits the needs of the community. This step definitely should involve the input of local stakeholders.
  • Finally, your group will need to consider and prioritize all the evidence it has gathered and then come to a decision on the final content of the new program, practice or policy. This step should include deciding how you’ll evaluate its effectiveness.

As you might expect, strong leadership and critical-thinking skills are required throughout this process.

The primary competencies needed for Evidence-Based Decision Making include:

  • Action planning,
  • Adapting interventions,
  • Communicating research to policy makers,
  • Economic evaluation,
  • Designing evaluations (including qualitative and quantitative approaches),
  • And prioritizing program and policy options.

So what should a person interested in evaluating and improving their skills within this topic area study?

To start, we suggest you explore the training brief titled Identifying and Using Evidence-Based/Informed Resources to Address MCH Issues. You also will want to make sure you explore Public Health Applications of Data and Collaboration and Partnerships.


Comment on the Presentation...

You can share your perspective on this competency with others in the field by entering your comments here. Tell us how you have personally applied this competency in your daily work, ask questions about the competency, or suggest additional trainings that can be used by others to support learning in this competency.

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See What Others are Saying...

  • As we receive comments, we add them to this page to begin a conversation. Check back often to see how the dialog progresses.

Tell us how you have used/integrated this competency into your daily work.

  • We must remember the importance of what you call "experiential evidence." Not everything has been proven effective through the peer-reviewed literature, so it's important to recognize the value of programs that others have found successful. The importance of promising practices can't be overstated. I wish we would seek them out before beginning any new program.
This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under grant number UE8MC25742; MCH Navigator for $225,000/year. This information or content and conclusions are those of the author and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.