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  1. Poehler, Allison R. MPH
  2. Parks, Renee G. MS
  3. Tabak, Rachel G. PhD, RD
  4. Baker, Elizabeth A. PhD, MPH
  5. Brownson, Ross C. PhD


Objective: The objective of this study was to assess facilitators, barriers, and capacities to use of evidence-based programs and policies (EBPPs) in local health departments (LHDs).


Design: A qualitative study design was used to elicit a contextual understanding of factors. One-hour interviews were conducted among directors and diabetes/chronic disease practitioners from LHDs. A consensus coding approach was used to identify themes.


Setting and Participants: Twenty-four participants from 14 Missouri LHDs completed interviews.


Results: Themes were identified as facilitators, barriers, or capacities that enhance EBPP use. Facilitators included awareness of EBPPs, leadership and supervisor support of EBPP use, and facilitators to increase capacity to implement EBPPs. Skills development, targeted messaging, and understanding of evidence-based decision-making (EBDM) terminology were needed. Barriers to EBPPs use were described at the individual, organizational, and interorganizational levels and included community buy-in, limited resources, relevance to partners, and time scarcity. Capacities included the ways LHDs learn about EBPPs, methods that influence the use of EBPPs, and resources needed to sustain EBPPs. Top ways to learn about EBPPs were in-person interactions. Staff meetings, meetings with decision makers, and relevant evidence influenced decision making. Resources needed were funding, organizational capacity, and partnerships. Directors' and practitioners' views differed on type of agency culture that promoted EBPP use, preferences for learning about EBPPs, ways to influence decisions, needs, and barriers to EBPPs.


Conclusions: These findings can inform future strategies to support uptake of EBPPs in diabetes and chronic disease control in LHDs. LHDs have a good understanding of EBPPs, but subtle differences in perception of EBPPs and needs exist between directors and practitioners. Investment in capacity building and fostering an organizational culture supportive of EBDM were key implications for practice. By investing in employee skill development, LHDs may increase agency capacity. Researchers should use preferred channels and targeted messaging to disseminate findings.