Learning from each other about public health policy research
From 1st to 5th of February 2015, Dr Heide Weishaar, an early-career researcher in the Institute of Health and Well-being, received funding to develop her knowledge of research and policy interactions. Read about her visit to the University of Southern Denmark in Esbjerg: I first came across the EU-funded REsearch into POlicy to enhance Physical Activity (REPOPA) project when I scanned the abstracts for the 2015 European Public Health Conference: An interactive conference workshop on a policy game intervention – that sounded interesting! Also, the potential synergies with my own research, which analyses the development and implementation of national and European public health policy and the collaboration between different actors in policymaking, were striking! I immediately contacted Prof Arja Aro, professor of health promotion at the University of Southern Denmark and coordinator of REPOPA, attended the conference workshop, and secured funding from the University of Glasgow’s Postdoctoral Researcher Development Fund for a scholarly visit to Esbjerg. During my visit to Esbjerg from 1st to 5th February 2015, I learned about REPOPA and discussed future collaboration between the University of Glasgow’s MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit and the University of Southern Denmark’s Faculty of Health Sciences.
I have to say that it was not the sunniest week and Esbjerg seemed to be even windier and rainier than Glasgow. Nevertheless, I was warmly welcomed by the whole REPOPA team. With Dr Arja Aro, Christina Radl-Karimi, Natasa Loncarevic and Dr Maja Bertram, I had detailed discussions about the four REPOPA work packages and methodological approaches (which include game simulation and stewardship approaches), the challenges and successes of an EU-funded project and international collaboration. We specifically exchanged views on the benefits and caveats of using evidence and conducting participatory research into public health policymaking. I was delighted to be able to meet many other staff members at Unit for Health Promotion, including department director Dr Pernille Andersen, and delivered a departmental lunchtime lecture on the practicalities of using social network research in health policy analysis, which was well received and sparked animated debate. The REPOPA team also included me in the running of the Danish National REPOPA Conference on Friday 5th February 2015, which brought together researchers and practitioners to discuss evidence use in local and national physical activity policy and allowed me insights into the practical and political application of the project.
A very warm “thank you/mange tak” for an exciting week with fruitful discussions, and good luck for the final year of REPOPA. I am looking forward to working with you in the future on research into evidence use and inter-sectoral collaboration in public health policy!
Feel free to contact Heide on if you are interested in collaborating on projects on inter-sectoral collaboration in public health, national and international public health policymaking, corporate sector engagement in public health, the political determinants of health or social network analysis. Read more information.