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Shaping Policy for Health™ Assessing and Framing the Policy Problem
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Shaping Policy for Health™ Training Courses

Introduction to the Policy Change Process

  1. Assessing and Framing the Policy Problem
  2. Using Policy Analysis Tools
  3. Influencing the Policy Change Process
  4. Implementing Enacted Policies
  5. Evaluating Policy Interventions

Online Attendee Group 

Assessing and Framing the Policy Problem

Timeframe: Two-Days (see sample agenda below)

Learning Objectives: By the end of the session, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe key components of a problem definition
  2. Describe how to use systems thinking to define a problem
  3. Frame (and reframe) a problem to your advantage
  4. Describe how to structure a written problem/issue brief

Background

Public health professionals are increasingly working on policy, systems, and environmental solutions to health problems. For example, local or state organizations may plan to reduce childhood obesity by changing school district policies related to physical activity and nutrition. To effectively work on policy change, however, these professionals need to articulate the problem with a concise, relevant and compelling definition. Whoever develops the most effective definition will generally be able to influence the solution.

Workshop Description

During this 2-day, interactive workshop, participants begin developing skills for defining a health problem. The workshop guides participants in considering how problems are socially constructed, and how economic and other determinants can be identified as root causes of problems that lead to health disparities. Evidence is considered as leverage for policy officials. Participants are introduced to systems thinking to establish a boundary around the scope of a problem, and to point toward the type of solution to pursue. The workshop introduces participants to skills for framing and reframing messages, and concludes with a template for developing a problem brief for specific stakeholders (e.g., politicians, interest groups, administrators, or the general public).

The workshop will rely on multiple learning styles including experiential activities (e.g., case example, small group exercises, individual reflection), as well as PowerPoint slides and written materials. Facilitators guide the learning activities and provide background lecture for new concepts and methods. Emphasis will be on exploring the concepts, practicing techniques, and learning from the participants' collective skills and experience.

Target Audience

Public health professionals from state and local agencies, including: division managers; health promotion, health education and environmental health staff; clinical staff managing non-clinical programs; and key partners collaborating on policy, environmental, or systems change initiatives.

Relevance and Usefulness

Participants will gain a better understanding of how political discourse considers public health problems. After learning new concepts and practicing techniques, participants will have increased their skill in defining health problems – a first step in the public health Essential Service of developing health-supportive policy. The workshop introduces learners to two of the 21 specialized competencies promoted by the Directors of Health Promotion and Education and provides information relevant to the CHES competency on advocacy.

Session Agenda

Time

Activity

Day

9:00 AM

Opening

  • Introductory activities

Day: 1

9:25 AM

Background and Context

  • Changing policies, environments and systems
  • Competency curricula

Day: 1

9:35 AM

What is a "problem”?

  • Social construction of problems
  • Identifying root causes

Day: 1

9:45 AM

Case Example

  • Orientation to case example

Day: 1

10:10 AM

Stakeholders

  • Identifying stakeholders and their values

Day: 1

10:45 AM

Break

Day: 1

11:00 AM

Stakeholders (continued)

  • Values underlie problem definitions

Day: 1

11:25 AM

Determinants

  • Root causes (focusing upstream)
  • Embodying determinants (vulnerable populations)

Day: 1

12:15 PM

LUNCH

Day: 1

1:15 PM

Economic Determinants

  • Markets – their dynamics and failures

Day: 1

1:45 PM

Evidence and Data

  • Relevance, types, sources, tips for using

Day: 1

2:05 PM

Systems Thinking

  • Relevance, types, sources, tips for using

Day: 1 

2:55 PM

BREAK

Day: 1

3:10 PM

System and Problem Boundaries

  • Setting boundaries

Day: 1

4:15 PM

Closing

  • Review
  • Feedback

Day: 1

     

9:00 AM

Opening

  • Review from Day 1
  • Review agenda and materials for Day 2

Day: 2

9:55 AM

Policies and Environments

  • Orientation to solutions
  • Roundtable discussions about policies

Day: 2

10:40 AM

BREAK

Day: 2

10:55 AM

Policies and Environments (continued)

  • Facilitated group discussions about built environments

Day: 2

11:30 AM

Narrowing the Solution

  • Single solutions vs. portfolio approach

Day: 2

11:45 AM

Framing

  • What, Where, Why
  • Values and symbolic values

Day: 2

12:00 PM

LUNCH

Day: 2

1:00 PM

Framing (continued)

  • How: Framing Elements
  • Examples
  • Checklist when framing

Day: 2

2:05 PM

Reframing Problems

  • Reasons
  • Steps

Day: 2

2:55 PM

BREAK

Day: 2

3:10 PM

Problem Brief

  • Template outline
  • Analyzing examples
  • Writing a problem brief

Day: 2

4:10 PM

Closing

  • Review
  • Feedback

Day: 2

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