Dissertations & Theses (Open Access)

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Alexandra E Van Den Berg

Second Advisor

Deanna M Hoelscher

Third Advisor

Anna V Wilkinson, Andrew Springer


This dissertation examined how health researchers and state policymakers can effectively communicate with each other to support the use of evidence-based public health information in the policymaking process. To achieve this, a systematic review, analysis of TX RPC Project data, and semi-structured interviews were conducted among health researchers and policymakers. The systematic review found that email, in-person meetings, and phone calls were the best way to reach policymaking offices at the federal and state levels. When providing policymaking offices with data, health researchers should provide briefs, summaries, fact sheets, or one-pagers to support legislative offices’ need for information. Shorter reports are preferred by legislative offices because it provides them with an overview of the health topic and recommendations. When examining policymaker characteristic and TX RPC Project characteristics on bill filing and movement through the Legislative Process, bivariate and partial correlations were used and found that state policymakers with higher education levels, who had longer tenures in the legislature, held Committee Chair or Vice Chair positions, and had research training were more likely to have their filed bills signed by the Governor, signaling that policymaker connections in the Legislature may play an important role. Partial correlation analyses found positive, strengthened relationships between the TX RPC Project variables – if information was requested by a legislative office, the number of information requests, and number of researcher-legislator meetings held - and bills moving through the Committee Process. Finally, semi-structured interviews with previously serving state policymakers and staff members in TX found that perceptions of health data are positive among state policymakers but that politically or religiously driven topics may lead to underutilization of health data in policy. Understanding facilitators and barriers to the use of evidence-based information and policymaker characteristics or other variables that influence policymakers can help health researchers effectively communicate and disseminate evidence-based information to policymaking offices to continue to bridge the gap between research and the policymaking process.

Available for download on Tuesday, November 26, 2024