Training Practitioners to Control Obesity and Cancer

Project Dates: 2006-2013

Chronic diseases such as cancer are leading causes of death and disability in the United States. Control of cancer and its risk factors, including obesity, plays an increasingly prominent role in day-to-day public health practice. There is a growing need for practitioners who have adequate knowledge and skills for evidence-based cancer control. We undertook this project in order to bridge the widening gap between the skills needed to control cancer and obesity, and the actual skill level of the public health workforce.

Competency-based education is an effective way of disseminating cancer control interventions at the state and local level. The first stage of the project was a competency development process. We identified 26 competencies by reviewing a general list of competencies on evidence-based decision making. To prioritize and rate these competencies, we conducted a card-sorting exercise among practitioners and trainers in cancer control. Our development process identified a manageable set of cancer control competencies which provided a foundation on which to build our practitioner-focused training program. The next stage was to transform these competencies into a curriculum and to disseminate the curriculum to public health practitioners.

Online training offers the possibility of reaching large numbers of potential trainees. We completed a systematic review of effective training websites in order to formulate guidelines for designing our curriculum. We transformed the competencies into an innovative curriculum using scenario-based learning and defined the optimal training approach, mode of delivery and venue for our training curriculum. Instructional emphasis is to understand, recognize and articulate the information associated with the competencies while practicing simulated interactions that can be translated and applied to real-world situations.

Project Goal

  • To develop a cancer control training curriculum to equip public health practitioners with the knowledge and skills that will enable them to deliver and implement programs and policies effectively.

Implications for Research and Practice

This model training program has the potential to inform the methods used to train the public health workforce to deliver curricula that will enhance the use of evidence-based approaches thus maximizing the likelihood for successful programs.

Project Contact

Ross Brownson: rbrownson@wustl.edu

Project Staff

Principal Investigator: Ross C.Brownson, PhD

Co-Investigators: Debra Haire-Joshu, PhD; Matthew W. Kreuter, PhD, MPH

Program Manager: Paula Ballew, MEd

Project Partners

Funding Source

National Cancer Institute: 5R25CA113433-02