Public Policy Update

At year's end, the Public Policy Office (PPO) enjoys shining a spotlight on APA members who have advocated for psychology. This year has been exceptional from the standpoint of member participation and we hope that trend continues as we begin planning how best to engage the new Congress and administration.

Reducing medical errors in health care

In February, shortly after the Institute of Medicine released a report entitled "To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System," psychologists Marilyn Sue Bogner, PhD, Institute for the Study of Medical Error; David Kobus, PhD, Pacific Science and Engineering, Inc. John Senders, PhD, Institute for Safe Medication Practice; and David Woods, PhD, Ohio State University, came to Washington to brief staff of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on the importance of human factors research in complex organizational settings. Woods returned in September to testify at the first National Summit on Medical Errors and Patient Safety.

Examining impact of media violence on children

In the spirit of learning by doing, participants in the Eighth Science Advocacy Training Workshop took three days out of their busy schedules to focus on federal policy pertaining to children and the emerging media. The group learned the basics of legislative advocacy, probed the policies of the National Science Foundation (NSF), developed a legislative message and delivered that message to Congress. The participants were: Craig Anderson, PhD, Iowa State University; Daniel Anderson, PhD, University of Massachusetts at Amherst; Sandra Calvert, PhD, Georgetown University; Jeanne Funk, PhD, University of Toledo; Yasmin Kafai, PhD, University of California, Los Angeles, (UCLA); Donald Roberts, PhD, Stanford University; Kaveri Subrahmanyam, PhD, California State University, Los Angeles; and Ellen Wartella, PhD, University of Texas at Austin. Anderson and Funk returned a week later to testify before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on the impact of interactive media violence on children.

Jessica Henderson Daniel, PhD, of Harvard University, and Karen Dill, PhD, of Lenoir-Rhyne College later represented APA at a July congressional "Summit on Entertainment Violence" held on Capitol Hill, which highlighted the consensus of the public health community regarding the effects on children of repeated exposure to violence in the media.

Exploring technology and behavior

To highlight psychology's role in interactive technology more broadly, PPO held a June 8 congressional briefing entitled, "Interactive technology and behavior: our relationship with technology." Deborah Boehm-Davis, PhD, George Mason University, focused on human factors, Virginia Mathie, PhD, James Madison University, addressed learning and the classroom, and Sandra Calvert, PhD, Georgetown University, focused on children and interactive technology.

Applying virtual reality research

Robert Gilkey, PhD, and Thomas Moore, PhD, Wright State University, came to Capitol Hill in May to advocate for basic research at the U.S. Department of Defense. The event, sponsored by the Coalition for National Security Research, provided a forum for the researchers to discuss the importance of virtual reality simulator research to our national defense. Later that month, psychologists Andrew Beall, PhD, and James Blascovich, PhD, University of California at Santa Barbara, demonstrated their research using virtual reality to explore issues of cognitive and social psychology in an exhibition on Capitol Hill in support of NSF.

Advancing healthy aging

Norman Abeles, PhD, from Michigan State University, Wendy Rogers, PhD, Georgia Institute of Technology, Mary Starke Harper, PhD, founder of the Minority Fellowship Program and former Coordinator of Long-Term Care Programs at the National Institute of Mental Health, and Paula Hartman-Stein, PhD, participated in a PPO briefing co-sponsored by the Congressional Older Americans Caucus and the Older Women's Health Team of the Congressional Women's Caucus entitled "Healthy aging: What does the research tell us."

Advocating for federal research funding

In partnership with the Society for Research in Child Development, Rachel Clifton, PhD, University of Massachusetts, Karen Wynn, PhD, Yale University, and Thomas Coyle, PhD, University of Texas, San Antonio, came to Washington to explain to congressional members the importance of their research on behalf of the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

June Tangney, PhD, George Mason University, joined a fleet of researchers and academicians representing a wide array of scientific disciplines in September as part of the Science Coalition to promote, among other priorities, increased funding for NSF.

Robert Swezey, PhD, InterScience America, presented APA's testimony in support of the Department of Defense behavioral science research budget to the House Appropriations Sub-committee on Defense. William Strickland, PhD, Human Resources Research Organization, testified on behalf of APA on similar issues before the Senate subcommittee. Dan Willingham, PhD, from the University of Virginia, presented testimony on behalf of APA to the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee for Veterans Affairs, Housing and Independent Agencies (VA-HUD) covering psychological research at NSF, NASA and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Promoting children's mental health

Psychology was well represented at the September Conference on Children's Mental Health convened by U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher. Barbara Burns, PhD, Duke University Medical Center, Robert Friedman, PhD, University of South Florida, John Weisz, PhD, UCLA, and Linda Teplin, PhD, Northwestern University Medical School, were among the presenters. Kenneth Dodge, PhD, Duke University, Mark Greenberg, PhD, Pennsylvania State University, Jane Knitzer, PhD, Columbia University, and Raymond Lorion, PhD, University of Pennsylvania, served as facilitators and discussants. The official APA delegation comprised of President-elect Norine G. Johnson, PhD, Recording Secretary Ronald Levant, EdD, and Past President Robert Resnick, PhD, also played a major role in developing the conference action plan.

Serving youth in the juvenile justice system

A congressional briefing sponsored by APA and the Consortium on Children, Families, and the Law featured Cliff O'Donnell, PhD, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Brian Wilcox, PhD, University of Nebraska at Lincoln. They addressed the service needs of children with disabilities and mental health problems in the juvenile justice system.

Preventing and treating violence, abuse and neglect

On Oct. 2, Patrick Tolan, PhD, University of Illinois Institute for Juvenile Research, presented testimony on effective strategies to prevent youth violence at a hearing of the Subcommittee on Crime of the House Judiciary Committee. On May 11, Jeffrey Haugaard, PhD, Cornell University, the first president of APA Div. 37's Section on Child Maltreatment, testified before the same subcommittee to address child abuse prevention.

Thomas Peake, PhD, Florida Institute of Technology, participated in a daylong roundtable discussion on "Elder justice: medical forensic issues concerning abuse and neglect," which was convened by the U.S. Department of Justice and included the participation of Attorney General Janet Reno.

Securing training funds for psychology

Thanks to the help of Lynne Steinman, PhD, Carlton Parks, PhD, William Myers, PhD, David Dettman, PhD, and Paula Hartman-Stein, PhD, who visited their members of Congress to advocate for training funds for psychologists specializing in gerontology, psychology made significant gains in the reauthorization of the Older Americans Act.

Similarly, in support of a bill to continue the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), Michael Dougher, PhD, Anne Cowardin-Bach, PhD, Carla Bradley, PhD, Timothy Blaney, PhD, and Patricia Cole, PhD, took part in advocacy efforts to ensure that psychology fully participates in NHSC Loan Repayment, Scholarship and Internship programs. In addition, Herbert Goldstein, PhD, and Nathan Perry, PhD, were instrumental in gaining $1 million in funding for a nationwide mental health initiative included in the NHSC bill.

A number of APA members visited their senators and worked with university officials and local organizations to gain increased funding for the Indians into Psychology program, which provides financial support for American Indians from high school through undergraduate and graduate school to enter the profession of psychology. PPO extends our thanks to: Donatila Maloney, PhD, James Allen, PhD, Deborah Pace, PhD, Arthur McDonald, PhD, Marie Miville, PhD, Rocky Robbins, PhD, John Chaney, PhD, Elizabeth Todd-Bazemore, PhD, Jeannie Caraway, PhD, Mark Daniels, PhD, Doug McDonald, PhD, and Carolyn Barcus, PhD, for their efforts in this regard.

We applaud all of the psychologists named above as well as the countless others who responded to our legislative action alerts via our Public Policy Advocacy Network this past year when we really needed their support. Please keep up the good work!

Reducing health disparities

As part of a PPO congressional briefing on health disparities in ethnic-minority populations, Brian Smedley, PhD, Institute of Medicine, Norman Anderson, PhD, Harvard School of Public Health, Hector Myers, PhD, UCLA, and Jeanne Miranda, PhD, Georgetown University, applied findings from behavioral and social science research to address this critical issue.

PPO organized two issue forums as part of the annual Legislative Week of the Congressional Black Caucus. The session on "The health of black women" featured Vickie Mays, PhD, of UCLA, who addressed the historical and contemporary contexts of black women's health. The second panel, "African American Children and Mental Health," featured Gayle Porter, PsyD, of the American Institutes of Research, who moderated and presented on juvenile justice issues, and Adrienne Stith, PhD, Institute of Medicine, who presented on suicide.Y

If you are contacted by the office of a member of Congress to comment on legislation or testify on the Hill, please contact APA's Public Policy Office at (202) 336-6062 for support and guidance. We are here to help.