Optimizing the Impact of Public-Academic Partnerships in Fostering Policymakers’ Use of Research Evidence

What facilitates the use of research evidence by decision makers engaged in public-academic partnerships (PAPs) at different stages of a partnership’s development?

Current research on research-practice partnerships’ ability to promote the use of research evidence has focused on relatively mature, educational partnerships, leaving unanswered questions about how partnerships in other policy areas and at earlier stages may shape research use. Kang-Yi will develop a conceptual framework to better understand the life cycles of PAPs and the contexts and mechanisms that promote public systems’ use of research. Kang-Yi’s analyses will focus on PAPs between state or local county child welfare or mental health agencies and academic researchers that aim to improve the mental health and well-being outcomes of youth, ages 12-25, in public care. Drawing from organizational life cycle theory, the team defines the stages of the life cycle as: initiated, formed, matured, and sustained. The team will map PAPs’ acquisition, evaluation, and use of research evidence to each stage of the life cycle through interviews and document reviews. They will review materials focused on each PAP’s structure, goals, functions, and processes to classify each document by life cycle stage and identify potentially relevant contexts and mechanisms. They will survey agency leaders and academics on their experiences participating in the PAP and on leaders’ use of research, using both the Structured Interview for Evidence Use and a Public-Academic Partnership Experience survey. The team will identify the mean differences in PAP leaders’ use of research evidence by life-cycle stage. The findings from these analyses have the potential to contribute to an understanding of how partnerships can be structured and operated to promote the use of research evidence to improve the lives of youth.

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