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Evidence based practice in population health: a regional survey to inform workforce development and organisational change
  1. A Adily,
  2. J Ward
  1. Division of Population Health, South Western Sydney Area Health Service, Australia
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor J Ward
 Division of Population Health, South Western Sydney Area Health Service, Locked Bag 7008, Liverpool 1871, Australia;


Study objective: To assess current capacity to implement evidence based practice (EBP) in population health.

Design: Postal survey of a regional population health workforce in Sydney, Australia.

Setting: Division of Population Health, South Western Sydney Area Health Service.

Participants: 104 population health staff (response rate: 73%).

Main results: In the sample of regional population health practitioners, views about the current promotion of EBP were positive. Non-medical respondents with less that Masters degree were more likely to report “high self assessed need” to increase their capacity in EBP (p = 0.022). Confidence in understanding of EBP terminology was not associated with seniority but with highest level of education reached (p<0.000) and having medical qualifications (p<0.000). Occupational category was not associated with respondents’ self assessed “need for evidence”, “need for EBP skills” or “need to increase their capacity in EBP” in their current position. The proportion of participants “strongly” supporting implementation of a colorectal cancer screening programme whose benefit was expressed as relative risk reduction was greater than that so supporting a programme whose benefit was expressed as number needed to screen (p = 0.008). Most respondents referred to their immediate managers when seeking support for EBP.

Conclusions: The findings provide a quantitative baseline for capacity building through workplace programmes. Managerial commitment has been increased and performance development is now underway.

  • evidence based practice
  • population health
  • needs assessment
  • EBP, evidence based practice
  • NNS, number needed to screen
  • RRR, relative risk reduction
  • ARR, absolute risk reduction

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  • Funding: none.

  • Conflicts of interest: none declared.

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