Introduction: Public health professionals have a pivotal position in efforts to obtain more practice-based evidence about what people need and what works in real circumstances. Close collaboration with researchers should enable public health professionals to design and conduct research in practical settings to address today's complex public health problems and increase the external validity of results. This requires expanding the research competencies of public health professionals. We developed and implemented a masterclass for public health professionals, modeled on an existing scientific training course for general practitioners and rehabilitation physicians.
Method: The masterclass was evaluated using a multiple method design, involving quantitative and qualitative methods. Evaluation took place during, at the end of, and 9 months after the masterclass.
Results: Twenty-one candidates (mean age, 41 y) started the program, 66% of whom completed it. Teaching materials, lectures, organization, and facilities were favorably evaluated. At the end of the masterclass, participants were able to design and implement a research proposal in their daily work setting, write a draft article, and critically appraise scientific research for practice and policy purposes. Participants had become more confident about their research competence. Management support from their employer proved crucial. Results obtained with the different methods were consistent.
Conclusion: The masterclass appeared to be an effective instrument to increase the practice-based research skills of public health professionals, provided the research is implemented in a supportive organization with management backing and supervision by senior university researchers. We recommend using masterclasses to contribute to the improvement of practice-based evidence for projects addressing current and future public health problems.