Amy E. Liepert, MD; Sarah Beilke, BS; Glen Leverson, PhD; Ann M. Sheehy, MD, MS
Purpose: Physicians can play an important role in shaping health policy. The purpose of this study was to determine characteristics of physicians participating in health policy and barriers and facilitators to their advocacy.
Methods: A modified previously validated survey instrument was mailed to physicians affiliated with the University of Wisconsin on October 12, 2018. Three follow-up emails were sent, and the response period closed January 30, 2019. Twenty-eight items were included in the survey tool. Respondents were considered highly engaged if they: (a) reported involvement in predetermined high impact areas, (b) had self-reported weekly or monthly advocacy involvement, or (c) had more than 10% dedicated work time for advocacy.
Results: Eight hundred eighty-six of 1,432 physicians responded (61.9%), of which 133 (15.0%) were highly engaged. Highly engaged respondents were more commonly male (57.1%), White (90.2%), of nonsurgical specialties (80.5%), and Democrat (55.6%) or Independent (27.1%). Those not highly engaged were more likely to report “I don’t know how to get involved.” Less than half of all respondents received any advocacy education, with professional organizations providing the majority of education through conferences and distribution of materials. Only 2.5% of respondents had more than 10% of work time dedicated to health policy.
Conclusions: Engagement in health policy exists on a spectrum, but only a small percent of physicians are highly engaged, and very few have dedicated work time for advocacy. Certain demographics predominate the advocacy voice, and health policy training opportunities are lacking.