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Strategies for effective dissemination of research to United States policymakers: a systematic review.

Ashcraft LE, Quinn DA, Brownson RC. Strategies for effective dissemination of research to United States policymakers: a systematic review. Implementation science : IS. 2020 Oct 15; 15(1):89.

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BACKGROUND: Research has the potential to influence US social policy; however, existing research in this area lacks a coherent message. The Model for Dissemination of Research provides a framework through which to synthesize lessons learned from research to date on the process of translating research to US policymakers. METHODS: The peer-reviewed and grey literature was systematically reviewed to understand common strategies for disseminating social policy research to policymakers in the United States. We searched Academic Search Premier, PolicyFile, SocINDEX, Social Work Abstracts, and Web of Science from January 1980 through December 2019. Articles were independently reviewed and thematically analyzed by two investigators and organized using the Model for Dissemination of Research. RESULTS: The search resulted in 5225 titles and abstracts for inclusion consideration. 303 full-text articles were reviewed with 27 meeting inclusion criteria. Common sources of research dissemination included government, academic researchers, the peer reviewed literature, and independent organizations. The most frequently disseminated research topics were health-related, and legislators and executive branch administrators were the most common target audience. Print materials and personal communication were the most common channels for disseminating research to policymakers. There was variation in dissemination channels by level of government (e.g., a more formal legislative process at the federal level compared with other levesl). Findings from this work suggest that dissemination is most effective when it starts early, galvanizes support, uses champions and brokers, considers contextual factors, is timely, relevant, and accessible, and knows the players and process. CONCLUSIONS: Effective dissemination of research to US policymakers exists; yet, rigorous quantitative evaluation is rare. A number of cross-cutting strategies appear to enhance the translation of research evidence into policy. REGISTRATION: Not registered.

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