Enhancing state policymakers’ ability to use research evidence




Poster session 5


Thursday 27 October 2016 - 10:30 to 11:00


All authors in correct order:

Gerrity MS1, Andersen K2, Obley A1, Beyer J2
1 Center for Evidence-Based Policy, Oregon Health and Science University, USA
2 Milbank Memorial Fund, USA
Presenting author and contact person

Presenting author:

Martha Gerrity

Contact person:

Abstract text
Background: The Reforming States Group, a bipartisan organization of legislative and executive branch leaders from most USA states, requested assistance educating colleagues about evidence-informed policymaking. The Center for Evidence-based Policy at Oregon Health & Science University and Milbank Memorial Fund collaborated to develop a two-day Evidence-informed Health Policy (EiHP) workshop.

Objective: Build capacity within state governments to use research evidence in health policymaking.

Methods: Workshop objectives are to: 1) introduce concepts essential to using evidence in policy decisions (e.g. study design, risk of bias, relative vs absolute risk), 2) foster relationships among policymakers and key staff to support evidence-informed policymaking, and 3) introduce resources for finding evidence summaries (e.g. Cochrane). For each state, a senior official convenes legislative and executive branch members with influential roles and identifies important health issues for the state. Workshop faculty use these issues in the workshop to demonstrate practical applications of research to policy decisions. Workshop evaluations include ratings of amount learned and benefit vs time invested. In 2015, a qualitative evaluation was done of responses to open-ended questions (e.g. what worked, what didn’t, use in policymaking) and interviews of workshop faculty.

Results: Twelve states and 263 policymakers participated in workshops and most completed evaluations. On a scale of 0 = nothing to 6 = a lot learned, the average was 5.4. Participants felt better equipped to find and use evidence and challenge claims made by others. Some found the content too detailed. Two states requested refresher sessions, 3 requested assistance with evidence resources, and several requested help in communicating research information to constituents. Creating workshops of varying lengths (2 hours to 2 days) for different policymaker audiences occurred in response to the evaluations.

Conclusions: EiHP workshops introduce state policymakers to concepts needed to acquire, appraise, and apply evidence and an opportunity to strategize about implementing these processes in their work.