Competency Status and Desire for Training in Core Public Health Domains: An Analysis by Job Level

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CONTEXT: Although trainings on core public health domains are widely available, and experts concur that competency in multiple core domains (analysis/assessment, leadership, communication, etc) is desirable for public health professionals, many still lack such competency. Employee job level could be a factor, as organizational research indicates that broad skill sets often hold importance mainly for higher-level employees. OBJECTIVE: This study examines whether the association between competency and desire for training in core public health domains depends on job level. DESIGN: A training preferences and domain competency survey of public health professionals: nonmanagers (n = 790), middle managers (n = 332), and upper managers (n = 69). The association of competency in domains overall with number of related training topics desired was examined using median tests. The association of competency in individual domains with desire for specific related training topics was assessed using logistic regressions adjusted for education. SETTINGS: Public health departments in the US Southwest (2013-2019). MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Competence in core domains: Financial Planning and Management, Analysis/Assessment, Communication, Cultural Competency, Leadership/Systems Thinking, Policy Development/Program Planning, Public Health Sciences, and Community Dimensions of Practice. Desire for training (yes/no) in 25 domain-related topics. RESULTS: Upper managers lacking overall competence in core domains desired more training topics than their competent counterparts (median of 12 topics vs 5, P = .02). In contrast, nonmanagers lacking overall competence desired fewer topics than their competent counterparts (4 vs 6, P < .001). Upper managers with lesser competency in an individual domain often had significantly higher odds of desiring training related to the domain, but the opposite was found for nonmanagers. Among middle managers, little association between competency and training desire was found. CONCLUSIONS: Ideally, lesser competence in core domains would be accompanied by greater desire for ameliorative training, but only upper managers exhibited this pattern. Efforts are needed to better connect domain competency status and training desire among nonmanagers and middle managers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)406-416
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of public health management and practice : JPHMP
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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