July 2004

Grant Results

SUMMARY

In 2002 and 2003, AcademyHealth, a nonprofit health policy resource center and professional association in Washington, developed Connecting the Dots, a communication campaign to educate key audiences on the value and impact of health services research.

Knowledge generated by health services researchers has led to programs that:

  • Benefit the elderly.
  • The use of technology to help prevent medication errors.
  • Expanded access to mammography for women.

Yet health services research remains under-funded and underused in part because, unlike biomedical research, the public and policy makers do not understand its impact on health.

Key Results
Staff at AcademyHealth reported the following results:

  • Project staff designed an education campaign called Connecting the Dots: Transforming Health Care Through Research to highlight the connections between research and its practical applications to improved health.

    The campaign strategy identified four key audiences — policymakers, health services researchers, advocates and the media — and developed targeted messages for each group.
  • The project team created materials for the campaign including:
    • Six flyers called HSR Impacts tell brief "success stories" to illustrate the positive impact health services research has had on health policy and practice in these areas: obesity, patient safety, health care staffing, aging, racial disparities and women's health.
    • 19 "Champion" statements, from such opinion leaders as Carolyn Clancy of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Senators William Frist (R-Tenn.) and John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Bill Novelli, president of the AARP, highlight the importance of health services research.

Funding
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) awarded a $50,000, one-year grant for this project, beginning in August 2002.

 See Grant Detail & Contact Information
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THE PROBLEM

"Health services research examines how people get access to health care, how much care costs, and what happens to patients as a result of this care," according to the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Knowledge generated by health services researchers has led, for example, to programs that benefit the elderly, the use of technology to help prevent medication errors and expanded access to mammography for women. Yet health services research remains under-funded and underused in part because, unlike biomedical research, the public and policy makers do not understand its impact on health.

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RWJF STRATEGY

RWJF has been a major supporter of health services research through many grants and national programs, including Changes in Health Care Financing and Organization, which has funded hundreds of health services research projects. See the Grant Results. With support from RWJF, AcademyHealth in 1999 began an initiative to broaden support for health services research (see Grant Results on ID# 034534). Their initial audience research confirmed that neither the public nor health care decision-makers fully understand what health services research is or how it contributes to patient care. The findings, which are available online, provided the basis for the current project.

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THE PROJECT

AcademyHealth project staff originally proposed to design, conduct and evaluate a two-year communications campaign, using the RWJF grant as the cornerstone of a $460,000 budget. When sufficient additional external funds could not be raised to complete all of these activities, the project team designed the campaign strategy. Working with GYMR, a Washington-based communications firm, the team developed and tested messages and designed campaign materials. (See the Appendix for a roster of advisory committee members).

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RESULTS

Staff at AcademyHealth reported the following results:

  • Project staff defined research-based goals for the campaign. It aimed to:
    1. Raise awareness of the value of health services research and its impact on health.
    2. Illuminate the ways health services research saves lives, improves quality and access to care and reduces cost.
    3. Strengthen understanding of health services research among public opinion leaders and key health care decision-makers.
    4. Increase public and private support for health services research.
  • Project staff designed an education campaign called Connecting the Dots: Transforming Health Care Through Research to highlight the connections between research and its practical applications to improved health. The campaign strategy identified four key audiences — policymakers, health services researchers, advocates and the media — and developed targeted messages for each group.
  • The project team created materials for the campaign:
    • Six flyers called HSR Impacts tell brief "success stories" to illustrate the positive impact health services research has had on health policy and practice in these areas: obesity, patient safety, health care staffing, aging, racial disparities and women's health.
    • 19 "Champion" statements, from such opinion leaders as Carolyn Clancy of the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Senators William Frist (R-Tenn.) and John D. Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) and Bill Novelli, president of the AARP, highlight the importance of health services research (see complete list of opinion leaders who provided statements in the Bibliography).
    • Two flyers explain campaign goals, one aimed at a non-research audience and the other at researchers, encouraging them to supply "success stories" from the health services research field.
  • The project team designed and launched a project Web site, which carries all campaign materials.

Communications

Project staff distributed 131 Connecting the Dots media kits containing campaign materials at annual meetings of AcademyHealth and the American Public Health Association in 2002 and 2003, and at the National Health Policy Conference and the International Conference on the Scientific Basis of Health Services in 2003. Congressional members and staff receive campaign materials through activities of the Coalition for Health Services Research, an arm of AcademyHealth. The project Web site carries all campaign materials (see the Bibliography for a list of materials).

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LESSONS LEARNED

The project director offered one lesson for the field:

  1. Using the same materials for research and non-research audiences doesn't work, but researchers may be drawn into a campaign as allies. Connecting the Dots initially used the same materials to address research and non-research audiences. Based on feedback from the health services research community, project staff developed an appeal, which provides an honorarium to researchers who supply success stories the campaign can use. (Project Director)

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AFTER THE GRANT

With internal funding, AcademyHealth continues to support and develop Connecting the Dots. RWJF awarded two additional grants totaling $220,000 to AcademyHealth to support a range of activities to build the field of health services research. See Grant Results on ID# 048542 and 051635.

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GRANT DETAILS & CONTACT INFORMATION

Project

Campaign to Broaden Understanding of and Support for Health Services Research

Grantee

AcademyHealth (Washington,  DC)

  • Amount: $ 50,000
    Dates: August 2002 to July 2003
    ID#:  046228

Contact

Kari Root
(202) 292-6700
Kari.Root@academyhealth.org

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APPENDICES


Appendix 1

(Current as of the time of the grant; provided by the grantee organization; not verified by RWJF.)

Connecting the Dots Working Group

Jordan Cohen, M.D.
President
Association of American Medical Colleges
Washington, D.C.

Margaret Coupe, M.P.H.
Executive Associate to the President
Nemours Foundation
Jacksonville, Fla.

Jessie Gruman, Ph.D.
President and Executive Director
Center for the Advancement of Health
Washington, D.C.

David Helms, Ph.D.
President and CEO
AcademyHealth
Washington, D.C.

David M. Introcaso, Ph.D.
Evaluation Officer
Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
Rockville, Md.

Hollis Hope
Hope & Associates
Boulder, Colo.

David Kindig, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, Co-Director Wisconsin Public Health and Health Policy Institute
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Madison, Wis.

Reed Tuckson, M.D.
Senior Vice President
UnitedHealth Group
Hopkins, Minn.

Mary Woolley
President and CEO
Research!America
Alexandria, Va.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

(Current as of date of this report; as provided by grantee organization; not verified by RWJF; items not available from RWJF.)

Reports

HSR Impact: Obesity. Washington: AcademyHealth, 2003. Also available online.

HSR Impact: Patient Safety. Washington: AcademyHealth, 2003. Also available online.

HSR Impact: Health Care Staffing. Washington: AcademyHealth, 2003. Also available online.

HSR Impact: Aging. Washington: AcademyHealth, 2003. Also available online.

HSR Impact: Racial Disparities. Washington: AcademyHealth, 2003. Also available online.

HSR Impact: Women's Health. Washington: AcademyHealth, 2003. Also available online.

Champion Statement Flyers

  • Don Berwick, Institute for Healthcare Improvement
  • Kathleen Buto, Johnson & Johnson
  • Donna M. Christian-Christensen (D-Virgin Islands), U.S. Congress
  • Carolyn Clancy, [federal] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Tom Croghan, Eli Lilly and Company
  • Helen Darling, Washington Business Group on Health
  • Karen Davis, The Commonwealth Fund
  • John Eisenberg, [federal] Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
  • Senator William Frist (R-Tenn.), U.S. Congress
  • Karen Ignagni, American Association of Health Plans
  • David Kindig, Wisconsin Public Health and Health Policy Institute
  • Bill Novelli, AARP
  • John Wyn Owen, Nuffield Trust
  • Uwe Reinhardt, Princeton University
  • Senator John D. (Jay) Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), U.S. Congress
  • Steven Schroeder, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Don Steinwachs, Johns Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Mary Woolley, Research!America
  • Gail Wilensky, Project HOPE

World Wide Web Sites

www.academyhealth.org/annualreport/2003/ctd.cfm. The site includes all materials developed for the campaign, including statements by opinion leaders in health care and policy, HSR Impacts, campaign brochures. Washington: AcademyHealth, 2002.

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Report prepared by: Antonia Sunderland
Reviewed by: Kelsey Menehan
Reviewed by: Molly McKaughan
Program Officer: Paul Tarini