200612 Role of Communications in growing the tobacco policy research field and disseminating research results

Wednesday, November 11, 2009: 9:06 AM

Prabhu Ponkshe, MA, LLD , The Substance Abuse Policy Research Program, Health Matrix, Inc., McLean, VA
The need for changes in policies and environments related to tobacco use was becoming increasingly apparent during the 1980s and through the 1990s, and the evidence base for policy action (e.g., tobacco tax increases, clean indoor air laws, treatment coverage) was expanding rapidly supported in part by research funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Substance Abuse Policy Research Program (SAPRP) program (1992-2009), Bridging The Gap. However, it was clear that results from even the most rigorous of studies published in the most influential peer-reviewed journals had limited impact on the policy-making process on their own. To accelerate bridging the gap between research and policy and practice, SAPRP developed a comprehensive communications strategy to accomplish multiple functions: offering seminars to train researchers in methods required for rigorous policy-relevant research; working with grantees to organize and frame results in ways more likely to attract the attention of the media and policy makers; and training researchers to communicate research results and their policy implications directly to the media and policy makers. SAPRP also developed a variety of communications products, including varied “knowledge assets” available though web portals and electronic newsletters and based on an analysis of the information needs of policy makers and influencers. This paper will highlight the benefits of SAPRP's communications strategy for translating research results to the media and policymakers in ways that directly influenced public opinion and policy action. Examples will demonstrate key lessons for future tobacco control.

Learning Objectives:
State the communications strategy and tools employed by SAPRP to translate research to policy and how it could be applied/adapted to future tobacco policy and control.

Keywords: Tobacco Control, Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Communications director of SAPRP for 11 years; health communications professional for 25 years, specializing in tobacco control, and including employed by American Cancer Society
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.