State and local health departments across the country are faced with budget cuts, job losses and the demands of preparing communities for seasonal diseases and potential outbreaks. Although the field of Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR) answers some of the important and challenging questions about how public health can be structured, managed, staffed, funded, and organized, there is still more that can be done. To build upon the research that has already been conducted, the Public Health Foundation has been awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to utilize TRAIN, the nation’s premier learning management system designed specifically for professionals who protect and improve the public’s health, to perform tasks aimed at advancing the field of PHSSR. This initiative strives to:
- Incentivize researchers to conduct PHSSR;
- Improve the TRAIN database to ensure data quality and integrity;
- Assist in refining the public health workforce agendas; and
- Conduct research to understand retention and recruitment needs of the public health workforce.
With over 500,000 registered learners, and 24,000 courses from more than 4,000 providers of training, TRAIN’s database can be used to learn about the current public health workforce’s skills/competence and the way the workforce is trained.
In order to aid the introduction of TRAIN to researchers conducting PHHSR, PHF has developed a 15 minute webinar outlining how TRAIN can be utilized by researchers to study the public health workforce and expand the PHSSR agenda. The webinar, “Using TRAIN for Research: Your Guide for Using the TRAIN Datasets for Research,” explains what TRAIN is, datasets available to researchers, and the process of obtaining access to the tailored datasets.
There are limitations to the three tailored TRAIN datasets.
- The demographics data collected on TRAIN often reflects the information provided by the user at the time they signed up for TRAIN and may not always be current. Additionally, there are also several data fields that are optional on TRAIN (i.e. education level, sex, ethnicity, race, date of birth, primary and secondary language) and are not provided by all users.
- Course information on TRAIN often varies by states and organizations and is currently not standardized.
- Data only reflects competencies for those courses to which course providers assigned competencies.
For further information, please review Public Health Services and Systems Research.