An audience research study to disseminate evidence about comprehensive state mental health parity legislation to US State policymakers: Protocol

Jonathan Purtle, Félice Lê-Scherban, Paul Shattuck, Enola K. Proctor, Ross C. Brownson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A large proportion of the US population has limited access to mental health treatments because insurance providers limit the utilization of mental health services in ways that are more restrictive than for physical health services. Comprehensive state mental health parity legislation (C-SMHPL) is an evidence-based policy intervention that enhances mental health insurance coverage and improves access to care. Implementation of C-SMHPL, however, is limited. State policymakers have the exclusive authority to implement C-SMHPL, but sparse guidance exists to inform the design of strategies to disseminate evidence about C-SMHPL, and more broadly, evidence-based treatments and mental illness, to this audience. The aims of this exploratory audience research study are to (1) characterize US State policymakers' knowledge and attitudes about C-SMHPL and identify individual- and state-level attributes associated with support for C-SMHPL; and (2) integrate quantitative and qualitative data to develop a conceptual framework to disseminate evidence about C-SMHPL, evidence-based treatments, and mental illness to US State policymakers. Methods: The study uses a multi-level (policymaker, state), mixed method (QUAN→qual) approach and is guided by Kingdon's Multiple Streams Framework, adapted to incorporate constructs from Aarons' Model of Evidence-Based Implementation in Public Sectors. A multi-modal survey (telephone, post-mail, e-mail) of 600 US State policymakers (500 legislative, 100 administrative) will be conducted and responses will be linked to state-level variables. The survey will span domains such as support for C-SMHPL, knowledge and attitudes about C-SMHPL and evidence-based treatments, mental illness stigma, and research dissemination preferences. State-level variables will measure factors associated with C-SMHPL implementation, such as economic climate and political environment. Multi-level regression will determine the relative strength of individual- and state-level variables on policymaker support for C-SMHPL. Informed by survey results, semi-structured interviews will be conducted with approximately 50 US State policymakers to elaborate upon quantitative findings. Then, using a systematic process, quantitative and qualitative data will be integrated and a US State policymaker-focused C-SMHPL dissemination framework will be developed. Discussion: Study results will provide the foundation for hypothesis-driven, experimental studies testing the effects of different dissemination strategies on state policymakers' support for, and implementation of, evidence-based mental health policy interventions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number81
JournalImplementation Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 26 2017


  • Audience research
  • Dissemination
  • Parity legislation
  • Policy dissemination research
  • US State policymakers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


Dive into the research topics of 'An audience research study to disseminate evidence about comprehensive state mental health parity legislation to US State policymakers: Protocol'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this