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  1. Erwin, Paul Campbell MD, DrPH
  2. Padek, Margaret M. MPH, MSW
  3. Allen, Peg PhD, MPH
  4. Smith, Romario BSW
  5. Brownson, Ross C. PhD


Objective: To assess the association between evidence-based decision making, including implementation of evidence-based interventions (EBIs), with accreditation of state health departments through the Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB).


Design: This was a cross-sectional, electronic survey of state health department practitioners. We utilized a survey instrument focused on evidence-based public health, de-implementation, and sustainability of public health programs. Survey questions were organized into 6 domains: (1) demographic information; (2) individual-level skills; (3) decision making on programs ending; (4) decision making on programs continuing; (5) organization/agency capacity; and (6) external influences.


Participants: The targeted practitioners were randomly selected from the 3000-person membership of National Association of Chronic Disease Directors and program manager lists from key Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-supported programs in cancer and cancer risk factors. The final target audience for the survey totaled 1329 practitioners, representing all 50 states.


Main Outcome Measure(s): The main outcome measures included the strength of association between a state's PHAB accreditation status and variables related to evidence-based public health and use of EBIs that fell within the individual participant skills, organization/agency capacity, and external influences domains.


Results: We received 643 valid responses (response rate = 48.4%), representing all 50 states, with 35 states being PHAB accredited. There was a statistically significant association between PHAB accreditation and state health department use of quality improvement processes (P = .002), leadership plans to implement EBIs (P = .009), and leadership reactions to EBI implementation issues (P = .004). Respondents from PHAB-accredited states were significantly more likely than participants from nonaccredited states to report greater engagement with legislators and governors regarding EBIs and 14% less likely to report the inappropriate termination of programs in their work unit (P = .05).


Conclusions: The importance of accreditation relates to both internally focused functions and externally focused activities, especially regarding policy-related impact.