Journal of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 84–94 | Cite as

Translating behavioral medicine evidence to public policy

  • Karen M. EmmonsEmail author
  • Ediss Gandelman


Behavioral medicine has made significant contributions to our understanding of how to prevent disease and improve health. However, social and environmental factors continue to have a major influence on health in ways that will be difficult to combat on a population level without concerted efforts to scale interventions and translate the evidence into public health policies. Now is also the right time to increase our efforts to produce policy relevant research and partnerships that will maximize the chances that our evidence is taken to scale in ways that can influence population health broadly, and perhaps contribute to the reduction of the recalcitrant health disparities that plague virtually every area of behavioral medicine focus. As a field we must take an active role in policy translation, learning from the public policy and political science disciplines, and our own pioneers in policy translation. This article discusses importance of accelerating evidence translation to policy, and suggests several factors that could enhance our translation efforts, including embracing policy translation as a key goal in behavioral medicine, increasing our understanding in variability of evidence-based policy adoption across and within states, improving our understanding of how to most effectively communicate our findings to policy makers, conducting research that is responsive to policy makers’ needs, and considering the important role of local policy partnerships.


Behavioral medicine Policy Prevention Evidence-based practice and policy 



This work was supported by NIH Grant 1UL1TR002541.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Karen M. Emmons and Ediss Gandelman declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and animal rights and Informed consent

All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committees and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Behavioral ScienceHarvard TH Chan School of Public HealthBostonUSA
  2. 2.NewtonUSA

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