The objective of this study was to determine the extent to which US local health departments (LHDs) are engaged in evidence-based public health and whether this is influenced by the presence of an academic health department (AHD) partnership. A team of researchers, including first author Dr. Paul Erwin, Dean of UAB’s School of Public Health, surveyed a cross-sectional stratified random sample of 579 LHDs in 2017. They ascertained the extent of support for evidence-based decision-making and the use of evidence-based interventions in several chronic disease programs and whether the LHD participated in a formal, informal, or no AHD partnership.

They received 376 valid responses (response rate 64.9%). There were 192 (51.6%) LHDs with a formal, 80 (21.6%) with an informal, and 99 (26.7%) with no AHD partnership. Participants with formal AHD partnerships reported higher perceived organizational supports for evidence-based decision-making and interventions compared with either informal or no AHD partnerships. The odds of providing 1 or more chronic disease evidence-based intervention were significantly higher in LHDs with formal AHD partnerships compared with LHDs with no AHD partnerships (adjusted odds ratio = 2.3; 95% confidence interval = 1.3, 4.0). The authors concluded that formal academic–practice partnerships can be important means for advancing evidence-based decision-making and for implementing evidence-based programs and policies.

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