Building collective efficacy to support public health workforce development

Craig Tower, Elizabeth Van Nostrand, Ranjita Misra, Daniel J. Barnett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: Leaders in public health have made great advances in workforce development over the past 30 years, while shifting from an emphasis based in training on individual, technical skills to a more holistic development approach, which boosts crosscutting skills. Efforts to increase public health workforce capabilities remain focused on workers as individuals, rather than the workforce as a collective unit. Program: Research has shown that a strategic adult learning approach can improve both individual capabilities and the collective performance of the workforce, which can be explained using social cognitive theory and the concept of collective efficacy, or the collective belief of workers in the ability of the group to succeed. We explain how a prior training program pushed us to explore this approach. Implementation: The proposed approach covers proposed implementation strategies to build collective efficacy as part of existing workforce development initiatives, with a focus on 5 key steps. Evaluation: Experience in fields as diverse as sports psychology and organizational development has shown that it is possible to evaluate changes in collective efficacy using measures that can be adopted in public health. Discussion: Adjusting existing public health workforce development initiatives to build collective efficacy can help link workforce self-confidence to performance. More actionable data are needed to determine the best methods for achieving those goals in the field of public health.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • collective efficacy
  • public health infrastructure
  • workforce development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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