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Drexel Study Suggests Expanding Federal Dissemination and Implementation Funding to Increase Inclusion of Policy Research

January 5, 2016

In the first study to measure the amount of federal funding allocated to improve the translation of research into policy, Drexel researchers concluded that U.S. research funding to promote the use of research evidence in health policymaking nearly doubled from 2007 to 2014, up from $1.5 million in 2007 to $3.15 million in 2014.

However, out of the 146 Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) Research in Health projects funded through the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) portfolio, only 12 projects focused specifically on policy content, process or outcomes. The 12 D&I policy projects were primarily focused on policy outcomes (66.7%), implementation research (41.7%), state-level policies (41.7%), and the USA (83.3%). Tobacco (33.3%) and cancer control (25.0%), for which evidence-based policy strategies exist, were the most common topics of focus. 

Authors noted that support for policy D&I research has varied between NIH Institutes; a third of D&I dollars from the NIH Office of the Director were spent on policy, while 9 of 15 Institutes funded no D&I policy research at all. Policy D&I funding does not match the potential of evidence-based policy to positively impact human health. 

The study was published in Implementation Science and led by Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health Assistant Professor Jonathan Purtle, DrPH, in partnership with Dornsife doctoral student Rachel Peters, DrPH (c), and Ross Brownson from Washington University in St. Louis.