Online Program

What do legislative staff think about public health issues?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 10:30 a.m. - 10:45 a.m.

Craig Mosbaek, MPH, Mosbaek Consulting, Portland, OR
Lack of information about how policy makers and their staffs view public health issues and potential policy solutions hinders effective advocacy efforts to pass health-promoting laws. The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness of current communication and advocacy strategies to influence lawmakers and determine how those strategies can be improved. The staff responsible for health policy in each Oregon legislative office (60 House and 30 Senate) will be recruited to participate in the study prior to the end of the current legislative session. Survey interviews will be conducted by telephone in July-August. In a similar survey conducted in 2011, staff in 64% of the legislative offices completed surveys. Survey results from 2013 will be presented and compared to results from the 2011 survey. In the 2011 survey, virtually all respondents regarded tobacco and obesity prevention as important. Rather, divisions about public health policies more likely stem from a more even split of placing responsibility on individual choice versus community responsibility to create healthy environments. The farm-to-school bill's success was attributed to its benefit to children's nutrition as well as to economic development, suggesting that messaging strategies that combine health and economic benefits are effective. Advocates may gain advantages by partnering with respected national organizations, as respondents generally were more aware of national public health organizations than local organizations and gave them more favorable ratings. Legislative staff receive much information from the general news media, so advocates should find ways to leverage these communication opportunities.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Communication and informatics
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Identify effective strategies to communicate with lawmakers and their staffs. Design a survey of lawmakers or their staffs to evaluate the effectiveness of communication strategies.

Keyword(s): Advocacy, Communication

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked for elected officials involved with health policy issues. I have advocated for public health policies from positions in both the government and non-profit sectors. I have conducted a number of studies on the effectiveness of communications strategies.
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.