Public opinion about evidence-informed health policy development in U.S. Congress

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Promoting evidence-informed health policymaking is a priority of the Society of Behavioral Medicine and other professional societies. However, politics often impede the translation of research into policy. Public opinion is an important feature of political context that influences policymakers' behaviors, but prior research has not examined public opinion about evidence-informed health policy development. This exploratory study sought to characterize public opinion about the influence that evidence should, and does, have on health policy development in U.S. Congress relative to other factors and examine differences by political party affiliation. A public opinion survey was conducted in 2018 using the SSRS Probability Panel (N = 532). Respondents separately rated the extent to which six factors (e.g., evidence, budget impact, industry interests) "should have"and "currently have"influence on U.S. congresspersons' health policy decisions. Evidence (59%) was the most frequently identified factor that should have "a lot of influence"on health policy development, but only 11% of respondents thought that evidence currently has "a lot of influence"(p <. 001). Opinions about evidence did not vary significantly by political party. The interests of insurance and pharmaceutical companies were identified as factors that should have the least influence on policy development, but were perceived as having the most influence (p <. 001). There is strong bipartisan public support for evidence to have much more influence on health policy development in U.S. Congress. Efforts that aim to improve evidence-informed health policymaking should consider harnessing the power of public opinion to change elected policymakers' behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1549-1553
Number of pages5
JournalTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Evidence-informed policymaking
  • Policy development
  • Public opinion
  • U.S. Congress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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