, Volume 17, Issue 5, pp 949-958

Effects of Interdisciplinary Training on MCH Professionals, Organizations and Systems

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Abstract

We studied the effects of the Interdisciplinary Leadership Development Program (ILDP) on MCH trainees from five MCHB-funded training programs at the UNC-Chapel Hill from the years 2001–2008. Specifically, we examined attitudes/beliefs about interdisciplinary practice and the frequency of use of interdisciplinary skills; identified effects of interdisciplinary training on career choices; and, examined the ways in which graduates used their interdisciplinary skills to effect change in MCH organizations and systems, up to 8 years after completion of training. Using a post-test design, participants in the ILDP were contacted to complete a web-based survey. Non-participating LEND and public health graduates were recruited for comparison. Guided by EvaluLEAD, we designed questions that asked graduates to rate the influence of their programs on their attitudes/beliefs and skills (on 5-point Likert scales), and to describe those influences in some detail in open-ended questions. The 208 respondents represented 59.6 % of the graduates from 2001 through 2008. Model-predicted mean levels of frequency of use of interdisciplinary skilIs was associated with ILDP participation (p = 0.008) and nearly so for interdisciplinary attitudes/beliefs (p = 0.067). There is an association between four domains of systems changes and frequency of skill use: develop/improve a program (3.24 vs. 2.74, p < 0.0001); improve the way an organization works (3.31 vs. 2.88, p < 0.0001); develop/improve a partnership (3.22 vs. 2.83, p < 0.0003); and, develop a policy (3.32 vs. 2.98, p < 0.0013). Graduates used interdisciplinary training to improve outcomes for families and to effect change in MCH systems. MCH leaders should disseminate, more broadly, rigorous assessments of the training intended to develop leadership competencies that underpin effective interdisciplinary practice.