NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors
Report of the Work Group on Enhancing the Utility of NIOSH Information Products: October 22, 2007
- IntegrationGet health communications to be considered, to the level that is appropriate, at the beginning of every project- intra and extramural, include social marketing plan in RFPs for extramural grants and in LOIs and scoring of projects proposed for intramural funding. As sectors develop goals and programs are aligned with those goals we expect health communications and social marketing will play a larger role in helping them meet those goals.
- IncentivesDevelop incentive/reward systems to encourage researchers to do more r2p/health communications efforts- Include research to practice accountability for each of the Division Directors and provide resources to support these efforts.
- CoordinationFigure out how best to spearhead this effort between the OD Office of Health Communication (OHC) and Educational and Information Division (EID). Both the Office and the Division have a role to play in increasing the prominence of health communications efforts. Their roles need to be coordinated to maximize effectiveness. Make health communications professionals trained in behavioral science and social marketing available in each Division to work with research scientists and the NORA Sector councils as partners. The goal should be to integrate health communications efforts seamlessly into the process with health communications professionals working hand in hand with the research scientists and through the NORA sector councils early on in the process. It should be as much as possible a participatory research process.
- Product MixBelow are some recommendations for repositioning the mix of products NIOSH produces.
- NIOSH's communications efforts should move more in the direction of a variety of communication products, informed by social marketing science and focused on those that can make the changes in the workplace. This does not mean that every project must have a social marketing plan or be targeted at practitioners. NIOSH still has to continue developing scientific publications and authoritative recommendations. But more attention needs to be focused on other publications for key decision makers to be motivated and enabled to make workplace change. The Mining program should be used as a model for the rest of the Institute. Mining clearly has a close relationship with their customers and does many more communications directed at the field practitioner.
- NIOSH should also consider how it can package or aggregate its existing information by themes or sectors to make them more accessible, e.g. a publication summarizing NIOSH's Healthy Hazard Evaluations in the construction sector.
- More effort needs to be directed towards developing communications products geared for small businesses and towards new untapped areas where NIOSH is less well known.
- NIOSH products are used quite a bit in training. This can multiply the dissemination of information. NIOSH should consider devoting more effort towards the development of materials that can be used in training programs.
- It has been suggested that technical reports from extramural grants be made more widely available through a web repository on the NIOSH website.
- ResourcesNIOSH needs to provide more resources specifically for health communication and social marketing and evaluation efforts. According to one board member the Institute for Work and Health in Toronto spends 40% of its budget on research translation and dissemination. It NIOSH were to do the same the budget for this activity would be about $100 million a year! While we have not quantified the amount of NIOSH's budget devoted to these activities, it will clearly need to be increased if NIOSH is to devote sufficient resources to fulfill its mission and increase its impact.
- ProcessThe process of publishing NIOSH documents needs to be expedited and streamlined to allow for timely publication as well as to reduce barriers for publishing information, particularly non-academic publications. A study should be done to identify where the delays occur and where the process might be expedited. One Board Member remarked that a study of their internal process showed the delays occurred primarily where the research scientists needed to respond to comments from reviewers. One area where their may be room for improvement is the sequential review system. NIOSH should revisit the requirement of approval of communication products before external peer review is granted.
- Social MediaNIOSH should explore and exploit the use of social media and new technologies through the Internet to effectively get information to customers
- Effectiveness ResearchNIOSH should invest more in communications research to create more effective messages, strategies and vehicles that will have a greater impact
- PartneringNIOSH should offer more small "research to practice," "knowledge transfer" or translation research grants or contracts to professionals, OSH educators, non-profits or trade associations NIOSH should work in a "teamwork setting' with partners, including those with extramural funding, to understand how best to reach target audiences utilizing existing venues of dissemination and trust and develop new ones where needed.
- Public Health CampaignsNIOSH should study the successes and failures of public health campaigns around occupational health issues that have been run in Europe and elsewhere and consider development of a campaign in the US to focus attention on one problem to be solved/eliminated or perhaps on raising public awareness of occupational safety and health issues and increasing public support.
- FeesNIOSH should explore the possibility of charging a nominal fee for publications (while continuing to distribute them free electronically on the web and making small quantities available for free) as a way of increasing dissemination through internet booksellers. If fees could be funneled back into the communications effort, much more could be accomplished.
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