Inter-agency collaboration is associated with increased frequency of research use in children's mental health policy making

Jonathan Purtle, Katherine L. Nelson, Rebecca Lengnick-Hall, Sarah Mc Cue Horwitz, Lawrence A. Palinkas, Mary M. McKay, Kimberly E. Hoagwood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To determine whether the self-report frequency of inter-agency collaboration about children's mental health issues is associated with the self-report frequency of using research evidence in children's mental health policy and program decision making in mental health agencies (MHAs). Data Sources: Primary data were collected through web-based surveys of state (N = 221) and county (N = 117) MHA officials. Design: The primary independent variable was a composite score quantifying the frequency of collaboration about children's mental health issues between officials in MHAs and six other state agencies. The dependent variables were composite scores quantifying the frequency of research use in children's mental health policy and program decision making in general and for specific purposes (i.e., conceptual, instrumental, tactical, imposed). Covariates were composite scores quantifying well-established determinants of research use (e.g., agency leadership, research use skills) in agency policy and program decision making. Data Methods: Separate multiple linear regression models estimated associations between frequency of inter-agency collaboration and research use scores, adjusting for other determinants of research use, respondent state, and other covariates. Data from state and county officials were analyzed separately. Principal Findings: The frequency of inter-agency collaboration was positively and independently associated with the frequency of research use in children's mental health policy making among state (β = 0.22, p = 0.004) and county (β = 0.39, p < 0.0001) MHA officials. Inter-agency collaboration was also the only variable significantly associated with the frequency of research use for all four specific purposes among state MHA officials, and similar findings we observed among county MHA officials. The magnitudes of associations between inter-agency collaboration and frequency of research use were generally stronger than for more well-established determinants of research use in policy making. Conclusions: Strategies that promote collaboration between MHA officials and external agencies could increase the use of research evidence in children's mental health policy and program decision making in MHAs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalHealth Services Research
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • children
  • inter-agency collaboration
  • mental health
  • public policy
  • use of research evidence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy

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