PHR Article of the Week: What Predicts Dissemination Efforts Among Public Health Researchers in the United States?

In the latest issue of Public Health Reports, July/August 2014, Washington University in St. Louis, and Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice members Dr. Rachel Tabak, Dr. Katherine Stamatakis, Ms. Julie Jacobs and Dr. Ross Brownson conducted an analysis on what predicts dissemination efforts among public health researchers in the United States.

Factors relating to dissemination efforts were identified by researchers to non-research audiences to reduce the gap between research generation and uptake in public health practice. A cross-sectional study was conducted of 266 researchers at universities, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and CDC. Using multivariable logistic regression, we compared self-rated effort to disseminate findings to non-research audiences (excellent/good vs. poor) across predictor variables in three categories: perceptions or reasons to disseminate, perceived expectation by employer/funders, and professional training and experience.

One-third of researchers rated their dissemination efforts as poor. Many factors were significantly related to whether a researcher rated him/herself as excellent/good, including obligation to disseminate findings (odds ratio [OR] 5 2.7, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.1, 6.8), dissemination important for their department (OR52.3, 95% CI 1.2, 4.5), dissemination expected by employer (OR52.0, 95% CI 1.2, 3.2) or by funder (OR52.1, 95% CI 1.3, 3.2), previous work in a practice/policy setting (OR54.4, 95% CI 2.1, 9.3), and university researchers with Prevention Research Center affiliation vs. NIH researchers (OR54.7, 95% CI 1.4, 15.7). With all variables in the model, dissemination expected by funder (OR52.0, 95% CI 1.2, 3.1) and previous work in a practice/policy setting (OR53.5, OR 1.7, 7.1) remained significant.

These findings support the need for structural changes to the system, including funding agency priorities and participation of researchers in practice- and policy-based experiences, which may enhance efforts to disseminate by researchers.

This week’s PHR feature article, What Predicts Dissemination Efforts Among Public Health Researchers in the United States?, will be open access through September 4th, 2014. For full access to current content, visit the Public Health Reports website to subscribe.