Learning in the zone: Toward workforce development of evidence-based public policy communication

Beth E. Meyerson, Laura T. Haderxhanaj, Karen Comer, Gregory D. Zimet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Evidence-based policy communication (EBPC) is an important, emerging focus in public health research. However, we have yet to understand public health workforce ability to develop and/or use it. The study objective was to characterize capacity to develop and use EBPC and identify cooperative learning and development opportunities using the case of Human papillomavirus (HPV). Methods: Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) informed guided interviews with 27 advocates in Indiana from government, industry, research, state associations and individuals. Participants focused on HPV, cancer, women's health, school health and minority health. Results: Capacity to develop and use EBPC was reported to develop through cooperative learning opportunities on the job or in advocacy focused coalitions. Coalition learning appeared to translate across health topics. Notably, policy experience did not assure understanding or use of EBPC. Conclusions: The ZPD framework can inform workforce EBPC interventions by focusing on actual development, potential development and factors for learning and development in the ZPD. Future studies should further clarify and evaluate emerging indicators in additional public health policy areas with a larger sample.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number700
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 5 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Health policy communication
  • Human papillomavirus
  • Public health workforce development
  • State policy development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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