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Building Collective Efficacy to Support Public Health Workforce Development

Tower, Craig PhD; Van Nostrand, Elizabeth JD; Misra, Ranjita PhD; Barnett, Daniel J. MD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: April 05, 2019 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - p
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000987
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Context: Leaders in public health have made great advances in workforce development over the past 30 years, while shifting from an emphasis based in training on individual, technical skills to a more holistic development approach, which boosts crosscutting skills. Efforts to increase public health workforce capabilities remain focused on workers as individuals, rather than the workforce as a collective unit.

Program: Research has shown that a strategic adult learning approach can improve both individual capabilities and the collective performance of the workforce, which can be explained using social cognitive theory and the concept of collective efficacy, or the collective belief of workers in the ability of the group to succeed. We explain how a prior training program pushed us to explore this approach.

Implementation: The proposed approach covers proposed implementation strategies to build collective efficacy as part of existing workforce development initiatives, with a focus on 5 key steps.

Evaluation: Experience in fields as diverse as sports psychology and organizational development has shown that it is possible to evaluate changes in collective efficacy using measures that can be adopted in public health.

Discussion: Adjusting existing public health workforce development initiatives to build collective efficacy can help link workforce self-confidence to performance. More actionable data are needed to determine the best methods for achieving those goals in the field of public health.

Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland (Drs Tower and Barnett); Department of Health Policy and Management, Graduate School of Public Health, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Dr Van Nostrand); Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia (Dr Misra); Mid-Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center at University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Dr Van Nostrand); Mid-Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center Community-Based Training Partner at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland (Drs Tower and Barnett); and Mid-Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center Community-Based Training Partner at West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia (Dr Misra).

Correspondence: Craig Tower, PhD, Department of Environmental Health & Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 615 N Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205 (ctower1@jhu.edu).

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the US Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) under grant number 1 UB6HP31689-01-00 “Public Health Training Centers” for $3 699 596.

This information or content and conclusions are those of the authors and should not be construed as the official position or policy of, nor should any endorsements be inferred by HRSA, HHS, or the US Government.

The authors declare that they have no relevant or material financial interests that relate to the research described in this paper.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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