Policy Research Impact



The Policy Research Impact working group (PRIWG) focuses on researching and enhancing the channels of communication between nutrition and obesity researchers and policymakers. The PRIWG involves participation of core group members, who contribute to discussions and provide input and ideas for new projects or planning.


How can we move research findings from policy implications to policy impact?

Our purpose is to better understand and build connections in the space between researchers and policymakers, including the role of intermediaries, such as advocacy groups. We hope to explore methods and best practices for researchers to better utilize this space in conducting and communicating their research, from initial idea-generation through dissemination of findings. This includes, but is not limited to, areas such as policy communication and dissemination research, public opinion research, and political communications. Focus will include policymakers at all levels, with emphasis on state/local policymakers.

Key Activities and Findings

Key focal research areas include: 1) Assessing how research evidence enters into and is sustained in policy pathways and ways those pathways can be improved; 2) Understanding how the connections between researchers, policymakers, and intermediaries undergird research use and could be optimized; 3) Exploring how other fields liaise with policy pathways; 4) Identifying research opportunities to fill knowledge gaps in these areas.

Activity 1: Conduct qualitative research to better understand how researchers engage with policymakers
We interviewed a sample of public health nutrition and obesity researchers who were recruited for their high involvement in policy communication to better understand how they communicate and engage with policymakers. Findings from this research are currently in the publication phase.

Activity 2: Review current literature and identify knowledge gaps
We are conducting an environmental scan of peer-reviewed manuscripts and grey literature that provide insights on how nutrition and obesity policy research gets used by policymakers with an emphasis on elected officials in the US at the local, state, tribal, and federal levels.

Activity 3: Share and build on our work
We are seeking outlets to disseminate and share the findings of the PRIWG. We have submitted two publications and submitted several conference abstracts. PRIWG members are also seeking funds to build upon and continue our work.

Activity 4: Build partnerships and collaborations
PRIWG is sharing evidence gathered and exploring possible collaborative projects with the National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (www.nccor.org) Get Research Used (GRU) Workgroup.


Download the Policy Research Impact Overview for more information


Beth Dodson, PhD, MPH
Prevention Research Center
Washington University in St. Louis
Email: edodson@wustl.edu
Phone: 314-935-0124

Jennifer Otten, PhD, RD
University of Washington
School of Public Health, Nutritional Sciences Program
Email: jotten@uw.edu
Phone: 206-221-8233