Society for Prevention Research members weigh in on professional development needs

Professional development goals

In order to serve the professional development needs of its members, the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) recently convened a training needs assessment task force, led by PRC Senior Research Associate Sarah Chilenksi, who surveyed SPR members about the professional development topics and delivery mechanisms that they would be mostly likely to choose. The results were shared recently in the journal Prevention Science, and will be used to guide SPR professional development offerings for the next 5-10 years.  

In order to inform the survey design, the research team conducted semi-structured, qualitative interviews of 13 key prevention informants. The questionnaire was deployed to all SPR members, with 347 completing it. Questions about training topics were asked along 8 categories:  

  • Theory
  • Preventive interventions
  • Research methods, design and evaluation
  • Teaching and mentoring
  • Practical and interpersonal skills
  • Communication
  • Project management
  • Data analysis  

Across all categories, respondents reported a high level of interest in receiving training; more than 80% were interested in training in data analytic methods; about 70% indicated an interest in theory, preventive interventions, and research methods, design and evaluation; about 65% were interested in at least 1 communication and project management  topic and 60% showed interest in at least 1 practical and interpersonal skills topic. Training-related interests varied across career level and race/ethnicity, with early career-individuals and people of color typically indicating the most interest.  

Participants were most likely to endorse self-initiated learning and webinars. SPR preconference training workshops were strongly endorsed for data analysis and preventive intervention topics. Recommendations from the study include: 1) a need for SPR to more strongly support self-initiated learning opportunities and continue preconference training programs, with special focuses in statistical methods and preventive interventions; and 2) regular assessment of members’ training preferences.  

View the full report here.

Learn more about becoming an SPR member.

People Mentioned in this Article

Sarah Chilenski