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Collaboration Between Researchers and State Policymakers (Text Version)

Slide presentation from the AHRQ 2009 conference.

On September 16, 2009, Robert St. Peter made this presentation at the 2009 Annual Conference. Select to access the PowerPoint® presentation (1.0 MB).

Slide 1

Collaboration Between Researchers and State Policymakers

AHRQ Annual Meeting.September 16, 2009

Robert F. St. Peter, M.D.
President & CEO
Kansas Health Institute


Slide 2

Communicating with
Policy Makers

Research competes for the attention of policy makers on two levels

  • Subject - health vs. all other public policy issues demanding attention
  • Influence - objective information is only one voice among many affecting decisions by public policy makers


Slide 3

Strategic Communication 101

Message Development
Audience Identification & Research


Slide 4

Kansas Legislature

  • Citizen legislature
  • In session ~90 days every year
  • Five "health" committees
    • Senate Public Health and Welfare
    • Senate Financial Institutions and Insurance
    • House Health and Human Services
    • House Insurance
    • Health Policy Oversight Committee
  • Two budget committees
  • Leadership committee


Slide 5

Kansas Legislature (cont.)

  • Limited support staff
    • Legislative Research Department (staff of 36, including clerical)
    • Committee staff (primarily clerical)
    • Personal staff (clerical, shared)
    • Agency testimony
  • It's not Washington, DC out there!
    • OMB, GAO, CRS, AHRQ, think tanks, etc.


Slide 6

Survey of Kansas Policy Makers (2003)

  • State legislators
    • 70% response rate (116/165)
  • County commissioners
    • 80% response rate (268/334)
  • CATI-administered telephone survey
  • Questions focused on
    • sources and methods of receiving information
    • perceived information needs


Slide 7

Sources of Health Policy Information: KS Legislators

Graphic of KS legislators broken down by Frequently, Occasionally, and Never


Slide 8

Information Sources for State Policy Makers, U.S.

(scale from 1 to 5) Rating
Legislative staff 4.3
State agencies 4.1
Constituents 3.8
Non-profit organizations 3.5
Legislators 3.5
Advocates/lobbyists 3.3

Sorian & Baugh, 2002


Slide 9

Preferred Ways to Receive Information

(scale from 1 to 5) KS Legislators KS Commissioners
Talking one-on-one w/ informed ind. 8.7 8.8
Reading brief summary material 8.4 7.9
Receiving testimony at hearing 7.9 6.5
Forums/seminars lasting 1-3 hours 5.8 6.3
News media articles/reports 5.3 6.0
Reading in-depth articles or reports 4.8 5.7
Watching videotapes 4.7 5.3
Conferences lasting 1 day or longer 4.2 4.9
Listening to audio tapes 4.1 4.4


Slide 10

Length of Written Information

"Ideal length of written materials you read to help you make policy decisions" (KS Legislators)

Image of a pie chart of the length of written information.

  • 1 page of less: 23%
  • 2 or 3 pages: 50%
  • 4 to 10 pages: 4%
  • As long as necessary: 18%
  • Other: 5%


Slide 11

Adequacy of Available Information

"In making policy decisions, would you say you have enough reliable information on public health never, sometimes, usually, or always?" (KS Legislators)

Image of a pie chart of the adequacy of available information.

  • Never: 2%
  • Sometimes: 30%
  • Usually: 61%
  • Always: 7%


Slide 12

Framework for Knowledge Transfer

  • What should be transferred to decision makers (the message)?
  • To whom should research knowledge be transferred (the target audience)?
  • By whom should it be transferred (the messenger)?
  • How should it be transferred (communications infrastructure)?
  • With what effect should it be transferred (evaluation)?

Lavis, et. al., 2003


Slide 13

What Should Be Transferred?

  • Transfer actionable messages from a body of research knowledge, not simply a single research report or findings from a single study
  • Research in the form of "ideas," not "data," is most influential
  • Decision makers rarely use a regression coefficient to solve a particular problem
  • Over long periods of time, "ideas" enlighten decision makers about a particular issue and how to handle it

Lavis, et. al., 2003


Slide 14

How Should It
Be Transferred?

  • Focus on "interactive engagement"
    • Interpersonal
    • Exchange of ideas
    • Iterative

"The research literature on which processes are best at transferring knowledge suggest that passive processes are ineffective and that interactive engagement may be most effective.. The hall mark of these interventions is interaction: interaction between the [subject] and an 'expert' . or interaction between the [subject] and someone to whom he or she routinely turns for guidance."

Lavis et al., 2003


Slide 15

How Should It
Be Transferred? (cont.)

  • Focus on process not events
    • Long-term
    • Continuous
    • Outcome oriented

" Over long periods of time, two-way 'exchange' processes that give equal importance to what researchers can learn from decision makers and what decision makers can learn from researchers can produce cultural shifts. Such cultural shifts can facilitate the ongoing use of research knowledge in decision making, not just one-off uses."

Lavis, et al., 2003


Slide 16

Evolution of KHI Communication Activities

  • Briefs and reports
  • Legislative testimony
  • Legislative brown bags and forums
  • Study groups for legislature
  • KHI News Service
  • Legislative Health Caucus
  • Legislative Health Academy


Slide 17

Kansas Legislative Health Academy

  • Launch in Fall 2009
  • 12-15 legislators
    • Selected with input from legislative leadership
  • Substantial commitment of time
    • 3-day retreat, three 2-day sessions
    • At least one year
  • Payment of per diem and expenses
  • Support from legislative leadership
  • Certificate upon completion
  • Curriculum integrates
    • System dynamics
    • Values framework
    • Leadership skills


Slide 18

Considerations with
Active Engagement

  • Restrictions based on tax status
  • Governmental ethics/open meetings
  • Comfort with shared control
  • Potential for introduction of bias
  • Maintaining credibility while in mix
  • Resources to sustain engagement
  • Determining effectiveness


Slide 19

Kansas Health Institute

Information for policy makers. Health for Kansans.

Current as of December 2009
Internet Citation: Collaboration Between Researchers and State Policymakers (Text Version). December 2009. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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