Translating evidence into population health improvement: strategies and barriers

Annu Rev Public Health. 2015 Mar 18:36:463-82. doi: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-082214-110901. Epub 2015 Jan 12.


Among the challenges facing research translation-the effort to move evidence into policy and practice-is that key questions chosen by investigators and funders may not always align with the information priorities of decision makers, nor are the findings always presented in a form that is useful for or relevant to the decisions at hand. This disconnect is a problem particularly for population health, where the change agents who can make the biggest difference in improving health behaviors and social and environmental conditions are generally nonscientists outside of the health professions. To persuade an audience that does not read scientific journals, strong science may not be enough to elicit change. Achieving influence in population health often requires four ingredients for success: research that is responsive to user needs, an understanding of the decision-making environment, effective stakeholder engagement, and strategic communication. This article reviews the principles and provides examples from a national and local initiative.

Keywords: community engagement; dissemination and implementation; health-in-all policies; public health policy; research translation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Communication
  • Community-Based Participatory Research
  • Evidence-Based Medicine / methods
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Public Health / methods*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical / methods*