What evidence and support do state-level public health practitioners need to address obesity prevention

Am J Health Promot. Jan-Feb 2014;28(3):189-96. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.120518-QUAL-266. Epub 2013 Apr 26.

Abstract

Purpose: Obesity has reached epidemic proportions. Public health practitioners are distinctly positioned to promote the environmental changes essential to addressing obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other entities provide evidence and technical assistance to support this work, yet little is known about how practitioners use evidence and support as they intervene to prevent obesity. The study's purpose was to describe how practitioners and CDC project officers characterized the obesity prevention task, where practitioners accessed support and evidence, and what approaches to support and evidence they found most useful. APPROACH OR DESIGN: Mixed-methods, cross-sectional interviews, and survey.

Setting: State-level public health obesity prevention programs.

Participants: Public health practitioners and CDC project officers.

Method: We conducted 10 in-depth interviews with public health practitioners (n = 7) and project officers (n = 3) followed by an online survey completed by 62 practitioners (50% response rate). We applied content analysis to interview data and descriptive statistics to survey data.

Results: Practitioners characterized obesity prevention as uncertain and complex, involving interdependence among actors, multiple levels of activity, an excess of information, and a paucity of evidence. Survey findings provide further detail on the types of evidence and support practitioners used and valued.

Conclusion: We recommend approaches to tailoring evidence and support to the needs of practitioners working on obesity prevention and other complex health problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. / organization & administration
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Public Health / methods*
  • State Government
  • United States