The project is part of a collaboration between the municipality of Varde and the University of Southern Denmark dealing with evaluation of local public health work. Through the last decades a bigger focus on making public health work evidence based has been developed. All efforts in the public health area should take a starting point in the best available evidence. This means that evidence ought to have an influence on the policy process; prioritising, planning and implementing public health work. This use of evidence is among other things meant to contribute to implementation of the most relevant and effective inter­ventions in regard to both populations and individuals’ state of health.
This is a complex task partly because of the fact that public health mostly is concerned with populations and partly because the causal relations in public health can have high complexity. Today, confusion on how evidence is going to be used in public health work still can be found among researchers, policy makers and practitioners. One of the more urgent problems regarding the use of evidence in local public health work can be that those who are responsible for this are not used to handle and apply evidence in their daily work.
The 1st of January 2007 the public sector in Denmark went through a structural reform (‘Struk­turreformen’). As a consequence of this the municipalities in Denmark have taken over the pri­mary responsibility for all public health work outside the hospitals. The tasks are completely new to the municipalities, thus they face challenges in decision making on which public health areas to prioritize, how to plan and implement as well as to evaluate interventions .
The project aims to study to which extent and how evidence is used regarding policy processes and regarding public health practice in Danish municipalities. It also aims to examine which condi­tions facilitate and hinder the use of evidence. The project is going to form a basis for the development of a best practice description for the use of evidence in local public health practice in Denmark.
1. To which extent and how is evidence used regarding policy processes and public health practice in Danish municipalities.
2. Which types of public health practices are taking place in the municipalities? And is there a difference in use of evidence?
3. Which conditions respectively facilitate or hinder the use of evidence in municipal pub­lic health practice. What is the influence of the fact that public health works often are taking place across sectors on use of evidence?
In the project both quantitative (survey) and qualitative (interviews, documents analysis) methods will be used.
Timeframe: May 1st, 2009 - August 2013
Supervisors: Gabriel Gulis, Arja R Aro, SDU
External funding: Varde municipality