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Early Evaluation Results From a Statewide Quality Improvement Training Program for Local Public Health Departments in North Carolina

Cornett, Amanda MPH; Thomas, Monecia MHA; Davis, Mary V. DrPH, MSPH; Mahanna, Elizabeth MPH; Cordova, Andrea BA; Herring, Claire MHA; Lea, C. Suzanne PhD; Harrison, Lisa Macon MPH; Randolph, Greg D. MD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: January/February 2012 - Volume 18 - Issue 1 - p 43–51
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e31822d2e07
Original Articles

Context: Many state and local public health agencies have developed accreditation systems and are utilizing quality improvement (QI) methods and tools to improve the public health infrastructure. Development of strategies to support and build the capacity of the public health workforce to apply QI can help advance these efforts.

Objective: This article describes the adaptation and creation of a standardized QI training program for local health departments (LHDs), explores the effectiveness of the program in increasing the confidence of the LHD staff to apply QI methods and tools, and discusses lessons learned from the first cohort of the program.

Methods: An existing program designed for health care professionals was pilot tested, adapted, and used in 8 LHDs. A formative evaluation of the new public health QI training program was conducted through a hybrid internal and external evaluation model. Pre/postsurveys were used to measure participant satisfaction and the capacity of LHD staff to conduct QI.

Results: Staff from 8 LHDs successfully completed the program and 94% of participants reported that they were satisfied with the overall training program. Seventy percent of participants reported a higher perceived confidence in conducting a QI project, and all participants reported sharing QI tools and methods with their coworkers.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that QI training programs using methods and tools previously applied in health care and other industries can be successfully adapted to public health. Although additional studies are needed to validate the results, this training model can be used to inform future work in developing a standardized QI training program in public health.

This article describes the adaption and creation of a standardized QI training program for local health departments, explores the effectiveness of the program in increasing the confidence of the local health department staff to apply QI methods and tools, and discusses lessons learned from the first cohort of the program.

North Carolina Center for Public Health Quality, Raleigh (Mss Cornett, Cordova, Herring, and Harrison and Dr Randolph); North Carolina Institute for Public Health, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, Chapel Hill (Mss Thomas, Dr Davis, and Mahanna); and Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina (Dr Lea).

Correspondence: Greg D. Randolph, MD, MPH, NC Center for Public Health Quality, PO Box 18763, Raleigh, NC 27619 (randolph@unc.edu).

The authors thank staff at Ashe, Beaufort, Buncombe, Cleveland, Craven, Forsyth, Iredell, Macon, Mecklenburg, Orange, Robeson, and Wilkes County Health Departments for their participation in the training program; Annah Poteat-Godwin, Gene Smith, Cappie Stanley, Bonnie Zell, and Jean Vukoson for their faculty expertise; and Margaret Cannon for her help in evaluating the program. They also thank Tilneil Gary for her assistance with the manuscript preparation.

The NC Center for Public Health Quality is funded through grants from the Duke Endowment, NC Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

Disclosure: The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.