Translating Research into Policy and Law to Improve Health and Health Outcomes

PI: Daniel Dohan, PhD

Collaborators: Dennis Hsieh, JD MS4; Jaime King, JD, PhD; Robert Schwartz, JD

Funders: UCSF Resource Allocation Program (RAP) Open Proposal

Project Objective: Currently, there is no direct pathway for health sciences research to move from scholarly publications into policy and law. Although some evidence is cherry-picked by advocates and policymakers, legislation often reflects rhetoric rather than evidence. While some translational researchers study the effects of laws or write white papers summarizing the state of the evidence, we know of none who take the approach of working with investigators to leverage their research and write model legislation. A gap in translation thus exists. This Pathway project proposes the development of a replicable process for translating research directly into evidence-based model policies, regulations, and laws that improve health and/or health outcomes. Model policies, regulations, and legislation are proposed pieces of law drafted by researchers working with legal scholars to incorporate the latest scientific evidence. The drafted language would then be made freely and widely available to legislators, advocates, and others involved in the enactment of law, regulation, and policy.

Project Description: The internal kick-off meeting was March 30, 2012. We will host a cross-campus kickoff meeting later in the spring. We will take a multi-faceted approach including developing legislation at the local level, writing regulatory language targeting labeling requirements at the federal level, drafting model policies for insurers, exploring tort litigation with model language of remedies, and a publicity/education campaign to change consumers’ perception of sugar. We are developing a second pilot project. Possible topics include mandatory reporting laws in the emergency medicine setting, the effects of hospital and ED closure, the efficacy of orthopedic procedures, restrictions on activities of individuals with epilepsy, and implementation issues related to the Affordable Care Act.

The demonstration projects will change the conversation around the translation of scientific research by serving as a proof of concept, pave the way for future work as described below, and serve as the basis for the creation of a new center for ongoing translation of research into model legislation, regulation, and policy.

There are several areas for future work. First is developing an educational seminar series for UCSF investigators, UC Hastings scholars, and learners from both institutions, introducing the project and highlighting its importance and efficacy. Second is creating a student interest group for those interested in translating research into law and policy. Third is launching future translation projects through the creation of a new center housed in the Consortium or at IHPS for the translation of research. Fourth is designing a website for sharing the model language, soliciting feedback, and developing new projects. Fifth is hosting an annual symposium to highlight ongoing projects, discuss key concerns, and share new ideas.

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