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How You Can Advocate for Health Policy Change
Joanna Buscemi, PhD, Health Policy Committee chair
Whether you are a clinician, researcher, or educator, you may have asked yourself at one point in time, "How can I use what I've learned from my work to have a greater impact on population-level health?" If you have had this thought but were unsure how to begin, the Society of Behavioral Medicine's (SBM's) Health Policy Committee (HPC) provides structured and guided opportunities for SBM members and SBM special interest groups (SIGs) to increase the impact of their work through the development and dissemination of health policy briefs.
I was recently appointed chair of the HPC. I was trained as a behavioral scientist and have always felt like I wanted to increase my involvement in advocacy and policy-related work, but wasn't sure exactly how. Through the HPC, I was able to develop several health policy briefs on issues that are important to me and to SBM members. My work on these briefs allowed me to learn how to communicate messages to policymakers and to network with experts in the field. Additionally, I have published each brief in Translational Behavioral Medicine (TBM), and have worked to disseminate the briefs widely through social media and partnering with other like-minded organizations.
Over the past year, the HPC has published the health policy briefs on SBM's website:
In November, several members of SBM's board will visit Capitol Hill and will meet with legislative aides to discuss the importance of these and other upcoming policy briefs, and to get feedback from them on what legislators are interested in hearing from us.
The HPC encourages SIG chairs and other members to contact the HPC with concepts for briefs that are timely and in line with SBM's mission. Prior to last year's annual meeting, most of the ideas for the policy briefs were developed out of conversations between members of the HPC. Over the past several months, we have worked to encourage SBM members to come to us with ideas. It is part of my job to work as a liaison between the HPC and members to make sure that our briefs cover broad topic areas across behavioral medicine.
Additionally, the HPC has begun to adopt a model of partnering with other organizations during the development phase of the briefs to build professional collaborative relationships, and to increase the reach and dissemination of the briefs. For example, in a joint "call to action" regarding integrating peer support in prevention and health care under the Affordable Care Act, SBM partnered with the Center for Health Law & Policy Innovation at Harvard Law School, the National Council of La Raza, and Peers for Progress. Moving forward, we would like to continue to utilize this model that was expertly executed by SBM's Ed Fisher to increase the impact of these important statements. Sherri Sheinfeld-Gorin, PhD, the chair of SBM's Scientific and Professional Liaison Council (SPLC), has been working to develop relationships with like-minded organizations that may be interested in joining efforts to develop future policy briefs. The HPC has begun to partner with the SPLC to facilitate this new model.
I would like to thank the current members of the HPC: Ed Fisher, Marian Fitzgibbon, Laura Hayman, Judith Ockene, Ken Tercyak, Dawn Wilson, and Amy Yaroch.
For more information about the work of the HPC or to propose ideas for future briefs, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.