Texas Research-to-Policy Collaboration Project

The Texas Research-to-Policy Collaboration (Texas RPC) Project is a non-partisan network of health researchers in Texas with the goal of providing data-driven information for policymakers' legislative priorities during the 2021 Texas Legislative session. The goals of the Texas RPC Project are to:

  1. Create a bridge between researchers and legislative offices to build a mutually beneficial relationship between state legislative offices and health researchers around significant public health issues.
  2. Provide access to research, data, and resources from Texas and other relevant sources to assist with policy decision-making.
  3. Identify state policy health priorities and interests.
  4. Recruit and support a network of researchers in Texas who can serve as advisors with a wide range of health-related research interests and experiences.
  5. Facilitate researcher-policymaker relationships.

The TX RPC Project offers a unique opportunity to engage with researchers in the context of a trusting, consultative, and confidential relationship based on legislators' policy priorities. While the ultimate goal is to advance the use of public health scientific information in the policymaking process, it is expected that responding to policymakers’ existing interests and evidence questions will support the timeliness and usefulness of research in the context of trusting, consultative relationships. Therefore, our primary intermediary objective is to facilitate researcher-policymaker partnerships.

The TX RPC Project intends to build capacity for implementation by growing the TX RPC Research Network and connecting with legislative leaders on policies that shape public health. This project will support the facilitation of at least 10 researcher-policymaker partnerships in 2019-2021.

Funding:

The Texas RPC project is conducted by the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Healthy Living at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Austin, with project funding provided by the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. The Texas RPC project will allow us to assist legislators and provide better use of Texas research, data, and resources.

Timeline

2019

The Texas RPC Network recruited researchers from the following partners:

  • Live Smart Texas
  • The Partnership for a Healthy Texas
  • Texas Public Health Coalition
  • The Texas Health Improvement Network through the UT System Population Health
  • UTHealth School of Public Health faculty in Texas, representative of other geographies
  • Other academic institutions
  • Professional associations

For successful partnerships around current policy issues, researchers will be matched based on:

  • Their areas of health-related research interests and experiences
  • Availability to commit to a partnership, preparation for policy engagement (e.g., trainings and hands-on support or guidance through coaching or modeling)
  • Locale in relation to the legislator’s region

Matches are made for Rapid Response Meetings, which may occur in different locations of the state to accommodate the availability of legislators and researchers.

A confidential baseline interview was conducted to assess legislators’ use of research evidence as it relates to public health issue areas.

  • A semi-structured policy identification needs assessment interview was conducted with a broader group of legislators beginning in Fall 2019 and continued throughout 2020
  • Legislators were prioritized for their involvement based on their interest in public health issues, which was determined by their (co)sponsorship on relevant bills and public statements

2020

Capacity building trainings (web-based and in-person) in the RPC framework were provided for network members.

Legislators who are highly engaged and interested on public health issues, particularly those in leadership roles on relevant Committees and Caucuses, were identified, and initial relationship development with the Texas RPC began with meetings with TX RPC researchers to discuss policy priorities for 2021.

These research-legislator partnerships will inform and develop stronger legislative efforts based on Texas data. In addition, these partnerships will provide for more efficient and appropriate use of Texas data in real time.

Research Team

Deanna M. Hoelscher, PhD, RDN, LN, CNS, FISBNPA, Principal Investigator 
Alexandra van den Berg, PhD, MPH, Co-Investigator
Tiffni Menendez, MPH, Project Director
Kathleen Manuel, MPH, Research Associate
Melissa Campos-Hernandez, MPH, Research Coordinator II
Christine Jovanovic, MPH, Former Post-Doctoral Fellow
Amelia Roebuck, MPH, Dell Health Scholar
Shelby Flores-Thorpe, Doctoral Student
Margaret (Marnie) Moore, JD, LLM, MPH, Dell Health Scholar
Kate Neal, Communication Specialist

Consultants:

Max Crowley, PhD, Pennsylvania State University
Taylor Scott, PhD, Pennsylvania State University 

Advisors:

Joel Romo, The Cooper Institute
Clayton Travis, MSSW, Texas Pediatric Society
Donna Nichols

Advisory Committee Organizations:


For more information, email TXRPCNetwork@uth.tmc.edu

The Texas Research-to-Policy Collaboration Project team and overall network are available to support Texas policymakers with informational requests or resources related to health topics, during the interim and throughout the 2021 Legislative Session.  Please direct requests to TXRPCNetwork@uth.tmc.edu