Researchers and policymakers: travelers in parallel universes

Am J Prev Med. 2006 Feb;30(2):164-72. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2005.10.004.


Public policy, in the form of laws, guidelines, and regulations, has a profound effect on our daily lives and health status. Reasons for a lack of consistent and systematic translation of public health research into public policy is examined, including differences in decision-making processes, poor timing, ambiguous findings, the need to balance objectivity and advocacy, personal demands of the process, information overload, lack of relevant data, and the mismatch of randomized thinking with nonrandom problems. Next, several actions are suggested that should help bridge the chasm between science and policy, such as greater involvement in the process, better understanding of political decision making, building of effective teams, and development of political champions. Scientists are obligated not only to discover new knowledge but also to ensure that discoveries are applied to improve health.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Decision Making
  • Diffusion of Innovation*
  • Health Policy / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Health Services Research*
  • Humans
  • Policy Making*