Evidence-based decision making (EBDM) represents an important strategy to increase efficacy and efficiency of public health programs and practice. There is insufficient information on the application of EBDM among local health departments (LHDs). This qualitative study examined use of EBDM in New York State (NYS) LHDs and factors facilitating and impeding its adoption through interviews and focus groups with 47 LHD commissioners, health directors, and other upper-level staff. Findings suggest variability in application of EBDM in NYS LHDs. A number of internal factors (e.g., staff capacity, organizational culture) and external factors (e.g., policy environment, appropriate and replicable evidence-based models) contribute to its uneven use, even within a single LHD.

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