Building practitioner networks to support dissemination and implementation of evidence-based programs in community settings

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Building practitioner networks to support disseminationand implementation of evidence-based programs in community settings

Shoba Ramanadhan, ScD, MPH ,1,2 Sara Minsky, MPH,1 Vilma Martinez-Dominguez, BS, Kasisomayajula Viswanath, PhD2

Insufficient capacity to use evidence-based programs (EBPs) limits the impact of community-based organizations (CBOs) to improve population health and address health disparities. PLANET MassCONECT was a community-based participatory research (CBPR) project conducted in three Massachusetts communities. Researchers and practitioners co-created an intervention to build capacity among CBO staff members to systematically find, adapt, and evaluate EBPs. The project supported development of trainee social networks and this cross-sectional study examines the association between network engagement and EBP usage, an important goal of the capacity-building program. Trainee cohorts were enrolled from June 2010 to April 2012 and we collected communityspecific network data in late 2013. The relationship of interest was communication among network members regarding the systematic approach to program planning presented in the intervention. For Communities A:39/59, B:36/61, and C: 50/59 trainees responded to our survey, respectively. We conducted the full network analysis in Community C. The average degree, or number of connections with other trainees, is a useful marker of engagement; respondents averaged 6.6 reported connections. Degree was associated with recent use of EBPs, in a linear regression, adjusting for important covariates. The results call for further attention to practitioner networks that support the use of research evidence in community settings. Consideration of key contextual factors, including resource levels, turnover rates, and community complexity will be vital for success.