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Bridging the Evidence Gap in Obesity Prevention: A Framework to Inform Decision Making
that the plans for communication and dissemination and for evaluation and refinement specified in its statement of task would best be developed in the context of other aspects of the framework’s practical application as defined by its potential users—decision makers and researchers—who will identify, evaluate, generate, incorporate, or use evidence to inform their selection, implementation, and evaluation of obesity prevention efforts. To guide future efforts, this chapter outlines key considerations for the development of these plans.
COMMUNICATING AND DISSEMINATING THE FRAMEWORK
If the L.E.A.D. framework is to be communicated and disseminated successfully to its target audiences, three major objectives need to be met. First, an environment has to be created in which the framework and its elements are known and understood. Second, a culture of shared beliefs about what constitutes evidence and how it ought to be used to make decisions should be created in accordance with the framework. Finally, to develop support for implementation of the framework, strong champions need to be recruited to lay the foundation for its integration into public health decision making and related research. To develop a communication and dissemination plan that meets these objectives, it will be necessary to define and learn about the target audiences, explore the channels that are best suited to reaching those audiences, identify potential partnerships, determine the messages to be delivered and the materials that will best convey them, and decide how and when to implement the plan and how to monitor its implementation (NCI, 2008).
The target audiences for the L.E.A.D. framework are decision makers (e.g., policy makers and their intermediaries, program planners, and practitioners) and researchers working on obesity prevention and other complex public health problems. Research funders and publishers of research results are also important audiences for the framework.
Decision Makers and Intermediaries
A variety of interested individuals and organizations help identify public health issues and potential strategies for addressing these issues through policy decisions. They include public health departments; local, state, and federal policy makers; health plans; employers; and professional and trade organizations. They also include the staff of decision makers, consultants, and firms that specialize in gathering and synthesizing research, as well as academic and private foundation policy think tanks and advocacy and stakeholder groups. These intermediaries may be involved in or belong to professional organizations and associations and network with those who have simi-