Now that Trump has won, telling the story of research is more important than ever

My first thought was that giving a midday talk at RTI today was, in hindsight, poorly scheduled. The day after the election — particularly this election — just isn’t the right time to talk about how to disseminate research. Who would care?

But my second thought was much better. This is exactly the right time to talk about the importance of disseminating research.

A Trump Administration, with a Republican Congress, is likely to be much less favorable to research and evidence, whether funding it or using it to inform policy, than a Clinton Administration would have been. This is not in and of itself wrong. There are other criteria that inform policy besides evidence. Values matter. Nevertheless, I agree with Bill that funding for research agencies like AHRQ, centers like CMMI, and institutes like PCORI is in jeopardy.

What to do?

What I told my audience was the same thing I would have told them any other day. We must keep telling the story of health care, if not all, research — why it matters, what it means, how we do it, where it leads to improvement, and how much more there is to do.

There are so many ways to do this. We can write. We can make videos. We can tweet, post on Facebook, call our representatives, give talks in our communities, and on and on.

I’m favorable to writing, so my talk focused on how to do that. I described my process of developing posts that translate research for a wider audience. I encouraged my audience to develop the skills to do the same, and I showed them how. (It’s up to them to put in the practice, of course. I cannot do that for them.)

If we don’t redouble our efforts to communicate what we do as researchers, we will get what we deserve, which is less research support. That may be what we get anyway, but we have little to lose by trying to educate the public, our policymakers, and journalists why and how what we do matters.

Telling the story of research has not become less relevant now that Trump has won. Now more than ever, it’s one of the most important things me and my colleagues at TIE and beyond can do.


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