Abstract for: Policy Engagement for Public Health Professionals: Tools for Finding Your Place

Given the power of policy as a structural intervention and the role so many policies play in the systems that produce or thwart health, well-being, and equity, it is crucial that those serving as stewards of the public’s health engage this category of levers as fully as possible. This presentation describes our work applying systems thinking mindset and mapping tools and activities to help public health leaders identify and exercise their most impactful roles in policy engagement. We use the CDC’s Policy Process to characterize the policy life-cycle, illuminating the many phases that are not subject to censure. We use our own tool to highlight the breadth of policy types and sources – from local to global; public and private; legislative, executive, and judicial. Finally, we facilitate systems thinking using tools including the iceberg metaphor, behavior over time activity, a variable elicitation worksheet, and causal loop diagrams. Our cross-walk of tools with the CDC policy process is part of this presentation. To date, clients and workshop participants have shared that the work has been enlightening, opening up possibilities that may have been left untouched needlessly, and that they intend to use many of the tools presented.