A landscape assessment of the activities and capacities of evidence-to-policy intermediaries (EPI) in behavioral health

Lars Almquist, Sarah Cusworth Walker, Jonathan Purtle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A significant gap exists between the production of research evidence and its use in behavioral health policymaking. Organizations providing consulting and support activities for improving policy represent a promising source for strengthening the infrastructure to address this gap. Understanding the characteristics and activities of these evidence-to-policy intermediary (EPI) organizations can inform the development of capacity-building activities, leading to strengthened evidence-to-policy infrastructure and more widespread evidence-based policymaking. Methods: Online surveys were sent to 51 organizations from English-speaking countries involved in evidence-to-policy activities in behavioral health. The survey was grounded in a rapid evidence review of the academic literature regarding strategies used to influence research use in policymaking. The review identified 17 strategies, which were classified into four activity categories. We administered the surveys via Qualtrics and calculated the descriptive statistics, scales, and internal consistency statistics using R. Results: A total of 31 individuals completed the surveys from 27 organizations (53% response rate) in four English-speaking countries. EPIs were evenly split between university (49%) and non-university (51%) settings. Nearly all EPIs conducted direct program support (mean = 4.19/5 [sd = 1.25]) and knowledge-building (4.03 [1.17]) activities. However, engagement with traditionally marginalized and non-traditional partners (2.84 [1.39]) and development of evidence reviews using formal critical appraisal methods (2.81 [1.70]) were uncommon. EPIs tend to be specialized, focusing on a group of highly related strategies rather than incorporating multiple evidence-to-policy strategies in their portfolios. Inter-item consistency was moderate to high, with scale α’s ranging from 0.67 to 0.85. Ratings of respondents’ willingness to pay for training in one of three evidence dissemination strategies revealed high interest in program and policy design. Conclusions: Our results suggest that evidence-to-policy strategies are frequently used by existing EPIs; however, organizations tend to specialize rather than engage in a breadth of strategies. Furthermore, few organizations reported consistently engaging with non-traditional or community partners. Focusing on building capacity for a network of new and existing EPIs could be a promising strategy for growing the infrastructure needed for evidence-informed behavioral health policymaking.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number55
JournalImplementation Science Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Behavioral health
  • Intermediaries
  • Policy
  • Readiness
  • Research use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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