Workforce development is an important aspect of evidence-informed decision making (EIDM) interventions. The structure of formal and informal social networks can influence, and be influenced, by the implementation of EIDM interventions.
In a mixed methods study we assessed the outcomes of a targeted training intervention to promote EIDM among the staff in three public health units in Ontario, Canada. This report focuses on the qualitative phase of the study in which key staff were interviewed about the process of engagement in the intervention, communications during the intervention, and social consequences.
Senior managers identified staff to take part in the intervention. Engagement was a top-down process determined by the way organizational leaders promoted EIDM and the relevance of staff’s jobs to EIDM. Communication among staff participating in the workshops and ongoing progress meetings was influential in overcoming personal and normative barriers to implementing EIDM, and promoted the formation of long-lasting social connections among staff. Organization-wide presentations and meetings facilitated the recognition of expertise that the trained staff gained, including their reputation as experts according to their peers in different divisions.
Selective training and capacity development interventions can result in forming an elite versus ordinary pattern that facilitates the recognition of in-house qualified experts while also strengthening social status inequality. The role of leadership in public health units is pivotal in championing and overseeing the implementation process. Network analysis can guide and inform the design, process, and evaluation of the EIDM training interventions.