Spengler, J. O., Frost, N. F., & Bryant, K. A. (2014). Integrating Research, Legal Technical Assistance, and Advocacy to Inform Shared Use Legislation in Mississippi. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(sp3), S100-S103.
PURPOSE: The purpose of this article was to describe the process by which research findings informed the successful passage of legislation designed to increase opportunities for physical activity in Mississippi, and discuss implications and lessons learned from this process. DESIGN AND SETTING: The article is descriptive and conceptual, and addresses the collaborative process by which research, legal technical assistance, and advocacy informed and shaped shared use legislation in Mississippi. SUBJECTS: Collaborators informing this article were an Active Living Research grantee, a staff attorney with the Public Health Law Center, the American Heart Association Mississippi Government Relations Director, and community partners. RESULTS: The American Heart Association and Public Health Law Center developed policy guidance in the form of sample language for legislation as a starting point for states in determining policy needed to eliminate or reduce barriers to the shared use of school recreational facilities. The policy guidance was informed by evidence from Active Living Research-funded research studies. The American Heart Association, supporting a bill shaped by the policy guidance, led the effort to advocate for successful shared use legislation in Mississippi. CONCLUSION: Research should be policy relevant and properly translated and disseminated. Legal technical assistance should involve collaboration with both researchers and advocates so that policymakers have the information to make evidence-based decisions. Government relations directors should collaborate with legal technical staff to obtain and understand policy guidance relevant to their advocacy efforts. Effective collaborations, with an evidence-based approach, can lead to informed, successful policy change.