Background: while capacity for evidence-informed decision making (EIDM) has improved in recent years, gaps still remain. The National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT) developed and implemented the knowledge broker mentoring program to support capacity development in EIDM among public health professionals. Assessing the impact of the program is challenging given the complex nature of decision making in public health.
Objectives: to explore the impact the knowledge broker mentoring programme has had on program participants with respect to EIDM knowledge, skill and behaviours, as well as the organizations they work in.
Methods: we used a fundamental, descriptive, qualitative design to evaluate the program. This type of qualitative design seeks to discover and understand the perspectives and worldviews of the people involved. All public health departments participating in cohorts I and II of the program were invited to participate and identify up to five staff to participate in data collection. Eligible staff included those who participated in the program, managers, and senior decision makers in the organization. We conducted telephone interviews using an interview guide, audio-taped, and transcribed verbatim. We used a general inductive approach to analyze the data, which involved organizing the data into themes and subthemes based on each area of inquiry.
Results: a total of 50 respondents from 10 local public health departments participated in the study. Of those 33 participated in the knowledge broker program, nine were managers and eight were senior decision makers. Participants reported increased confidence, knowledge, skills and connections. At the organizational level all public health departments reported engaging in rapid reviews, critically appraising evidence, and requiring evidence to be included and documented, in program planning decisions. Additional strategies being implemented across the organizations to support EIDM included dedicated staff positions, working groups, ongoing training, standardized processes, and resources such as guidebooks, frameworks and online portals.
Conclusions: the program was perceived as being highly successful in increasing capacity for EIDM and furthering EIDM practices. The use of a qualitative design facilitated the identification of impact beyond what would have been observed if the evaluation had been limited to a quantitative approach. The knowledge broker mentoring program appears to be a promising approach to supporting EIDM.
Patient or healthcare consumer involvement: not applicable