Many of the policies shown to benefit the public's health in research studies are never widely implemented. We conducted a qualitative and exploratory multiple-case study of three U.S. academic research-policy translation initiatives that resulted in the development, enactment and/or implementation of evidence-based policies to address public health issues: gun policy (Case 1); opioid policy (Case 2) and drug control policy (Case 3). We conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with 25 key stakeholders involved in the three cases and analysed transcripts using a hybrid a priori and data-driven approach. Across cases, participants identified four key processes that should be included in research-policy translation initiatives: stakeholder engagement, consensus-building, long-term coalition engagement and use of effective knowledge brokers. Participants perceived differences in how the structure of and activities within each initiative facilitated these processes. For example, participants perceived the gun policy initiative, which included large-scale policy dissemination strategies such as state forums where research experts interacted with state policymakers and advocates, as more effective at long-term coalition engagement than the other two initiatives. Study results suggest concrete and actionable academic research-policy strategies that have the potential for widespread adoption by universities or other organizations.
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