Examining Training Motivations among Public Health Workers

Nate C. Apathy, Valerie A. Yeager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Context: As public health needs and priorities evolve, maintaining a trained public health workforce is critical to the success of public health efforts. Researchers have examined training needs in various contexts and subpopulations, but a nationally representative study of what motivates public health workers to seek out training has yet to be conducted. By understanding these motivations, public health agencies and policy makers can appeal to worker motivations in both training programs and organizational incentives. Objective: The purpose of this article was to describe overall training motivations and identify patterns of training motivations among public health workers. This study also explored whether or not training needs differ across prevalent motivational patterns. Design and Participants: Using data from the 2017 Public Health Workforce Interests and Needs Survey (PH WINS), the study used latent class analysis (LCA) to identify motivational patterns and logistic regression to analyze associations with training needs. Results: The most prominent motivation to seek training was personal growth (82.7% of respondents). LCA identified 4 motivational classes of public health workers: those motivated by organizational pressure and requirements (31.8%), those motivated indiscriminately by all factors (28.4%), those motivated primarily by personal growth (21.7%), and those motivated by organizational accommodations and supports (18.2%). Motivational class was not associated with indicating training needs in any of 8 training domains, nor was it associated with indicating any training need in any domain. Conclusions: Public health agencies should consider the different motivational classes present in the public health workforce. In particular, motivational classes that represent organizational choices suggest that public health agencies should both motivate workers with organizational requirements and pressure from managers and offer institutional support via paid travel and covered time for training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S157-S165
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • latent class analysis
  • public health workforce
  • training motivation
  • training needs
  • workforce development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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