Dissemination in Extension: Health Specialists' Information Sources and Channels for Health Promotion Programming
In the National Cooperative Extension System (herein: Extension), state-level specialists serve as key intermediaries between research, educators, and the community members they serve. There is a need to understand information seeking and sharing practices (i.e., dissemination) among specialists to increase the adoption of evidence-based health promotion programs. Specialists (N = 94) across 47 states were identified and invited to participate in this mixed methods study. A one-way ANOVA with Bonferroni corrections was used to analyze survey data. Data collected through semi-structured interviews were analyzed using an immersion crystallization approach. Forty-seven health specialists completed the survey representing 31 eligible states (65%) and were predominately female (89%), Caucasian (70%), had a doctorate (62%), and were employed within Extension for 10.2 + 9.7 years. The information sources used most frequently were academic journals and other specialists, and most used email and online meetings to communicate. Qualitative findings support the use of other specialists as a primary source of information and indicate specialists’ desire for an on-demand, bi-directional, online national repository of Extension programs. This repository would facilitate the dissemination of evidence-based programming across the system and reduce program duplication as well as information burden on county-based educators.