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DHPE Webinar: Using the Policy Brief as a Communication Tool for Stimulating Public Health Action
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Speaker: Donna C. Nichols, MSEd, CHES Director of Health Policy and Partnership, Directors of Health Promotion and Education and Faculty Associate, University of Texas, School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus

When: November 29, 2012
2:00 - 3:00 PM
Where: Webinar
Contact: Donna Nichols

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Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will be able to construct a policy brief based on needs of their target audience.
  2. Participants will be able to identify key leverage points for constructing a the policy brief.
  3. Participants will be able to articulate types of recommendations used in making a set of compelling public health actions.


Developing communication tools that spur public health action is both an art and a science. Using the policy brief to create a compelling case for legislative action is one such tool. The policy brief offers a rationale for selecting a solution and/or course of action in a current policy debate. The policy brief can also be used to establish an organizational position on a specific public health issue and is particularly helpful to both state and local health agencies and non-governmental organizations alike. It is commonly produced in response to positions taken by decision or policy makers or leadership within national, state, and local health agencies. Depending on the role of the writer or organization producing the document, the brief may only provide a targeted discussion of the current alternatives without arguing for a particular one (i.e. those who adopt the role of ‘objective' researcher). On the other end of the scale, i.e. advocates, the brief may focus directly on providing an argument for the adoption of a particular alternative. This communication tool becomes the organization's position on the issue and is the first step toward legislative action and advocacy. The purpose of the policy brief is to convince the target audience of the urgency of the current problem and the need to adopt a preferred solution or course of action as outlined serving as an impetus for action.


  1. Welcome and Introductions
  2. The Policy Brief As a Communication Tool for Action
  3. Leverage Points and Elements of a Policy Brief
  4. Compelling Recommendations
  5. Discussions/Questions
  6. Wrap-up

Donna NicholsSpeaker Biosketch:

Ms. Nichols has more than 30 years of public health promotion policy, program, partnership, and practice experience and has held numerous professional, management and leadership positions within three state health agencies and across multiple community settings and sectors. She is recognized as an influential state and national health promotion leader in the area of health promotion policy analysis and development and has proven success in implementing large scale, evidence-based public health partnership and program initiatives. She was the former Senior Prevention Policy Analyst for the Texas Department of State Health Services and DHPE’s former Advocacy and Legislative Chair from 2000 to 2007. She currently is the DHPE Health Policy and Partnership Director and is a Faculty Associate with the University of Texas, School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus in Austin, Texas.

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