Advocacy Tool Box

What is advocacy?

Advocacy is defined as any action that supports or argues for a cause, bringing increased awareness of an issue to the attention of others including the public, organizations, and law makers (local and national).

Why do we advocate for orthopaedic research?


ORS Members Visit Capitol Hill Musculoskeletal disorders and diseases are the leading cause of disability in the United States (US Bone & Joint Initiative), yet funding of orthopaedic research is at critical levels. The need for research to better understand the causes, diagnoses and treatments is needed now more than ever with our active and aging population. We also require a regulatory environment that allows for innovation and new and improved treatments for musculoskeletal disorders and disease. Lack of funding is a constant threat to individual researchers including new investigators just entering the pipeline as well as to new and established research programs. Research is where it begins. Without it, there would be no innovation, no improved care and treatments for patients or hope for patients that suffer from diseases that we could one day prevent.

How to Advocate?

Reach out to your lawmakers to advocate for musculoskeletal research. You can do this by writing an email or even by using the traditional letter. The ORS is a member of two groups which provide templates for letters to congress:

We suggest that you utilize these templates but adapt it to your needs specific to orthopaedic research.

You can also use the letter below:

I am writing this letter to stress the fundamental importance of science to the health, wealth, and future of America.

A robust, reliable investment in scientific discovery is crucial to improve patients’ health, strengthen the economy in the near- and long-term, and maintain the U.S.’ global preeminence in medical innovation. Through NIH, the federal government plays an irreplaceable role in supporting biomedical research that cannot be conducted by industry but is essential to for advancing medicine. More than 80 percent of the NIH’s budget supports research in all 50 states and D.C., as well as U.S. territories, at medical schools, teaching hospitals, universities, and research institutes, which often are among the largest employers in their respective communities. The attached fact sheet details the return on investment of NIH funding, as well as polling data demonstrating the public’s strong support for sustaining this investment.

I am grateful that Congress recently took steps to help NIH regain some of its lost purchasing power, after years of stagnant funding, by providing real funding growth over inflation with near unanimous approval of the 21st Century Cures Act. However, the proposed FY 2017 appropriation threatens to undermine these key efforts. The budget ambiguity resulting from the current continuing resolution leaves the agency and researchers in limbo; worse, the prospect of a flat or reduced final budget not only would delay progress, but also could serve to discourage the next generation of scientists from careers in research.

As a constituent in your district I am asking that you look to renew bi-partisan support in science, technology, engineering, and medicine. To ensure America’s continued leadership in an increasingly competitive economy, and to alleviate suffering for millions of patients awaiting the promise of a healthier tomorrow, we must prioritize an NIH budget trajectory of sustained growth. We urge you to approve an FY 2017 appropriation of $34.1 billion for NIH without further delay and to ensure that NIH remains a top priority in FY 2018 and beyond.

Lastly, as a member of Congress, I urge you to protect the reputation of the U.S. by demanding that statements and actions of our government be based on empirical data.

Consider attaching links to the resources on our site to strengthen your position on a specific issue.

We also suggest that you contact your elected officials on a regular basis. Advocacy is all about developing relationships and these relationships can be with your representative or even their staff.

Be sure to visit the ORS Advocacy Day page for more letter writing tools!

With fewer dollars available for musculoskeletal research funding, it is increasingly important to demonstrate the critical nature of your research to funders. Inviting your Legislative Representatives or other funders to your laboratory for a firsthand experience of your research is an excellent way to show your funding dollars at work.

Plan a Lab Tour

The ORS partners with other organizations to make the most of our advocacy efforts.

AIMBE Advocacy


Get Informed: Burden of Disease

Musculoskeletal disorders and diseases are the leading cause of disability in the United States and account for more that one-half of all chronic conditions in people over 50 years of age in developed countries. The economic impact of these conditions is also staggering: in 2004 the sum of the direct expenditures in health care costs and the indirect expenditures in lost wages has been estimated to be $849 billion dollars, or 7.7% of the national gross domestic product.

To view detailed information, or to order a hard copy version of the Burden of Musculoskeletal Disease please visit,

Materials You Can Use

The mission of the Unified Orthopaedic Research Agenda (URA) is to advance science and research in musculoskeletal care through a unified research strategy. Continued and additional funding of these research priorities is necessary to improve function and mobility and reduce the socioeconomic burden of orthopaedic disorders.

The URA was developed as a communication tool for organizations like the ORS, the AAOS, orthopaedic/musculoskeletal specialty societies, and individual researchers.

Unified Research Agenda

The ORS Media Relations and Communications Committee is tasked with promoting the ORS as the world’s pre-eminent leader of musculoskeletal research across the world. For the past four years, the committee has organized the Video Outreach Competition. This competition is designed to give orthopaedic investigators an opportunity to educate the public about their work in innovative, accessible and understandable ways.

This video, Who Cares About Orthopaedic Research? took first place in 2013. To see other videos, please visit the ORS YouTube channel.

Who Cares About Orthopaedic Research?

Submitted by Youssef Farhat

Who Cares About Orthopaedic Research

Pioneers of Innovation is a program which recognizes scientists whose sustained research in biological, engineering, or clinical sciences have translated into novel therapies and improved patient care. Scientists in the Pioneers of Innovation program are examples for our advocacy efforts that highlight the importance of musculoskeletal research and the need for increased research funding.

Learn More

ORS Open Door welcomes you to be part of the discussion and increase your awareness of recent research advances that could someday directly benefit you! Join us for a series of dynamic presentations on the latest innovations in regenerative medicine.

The presentations below were used in past Open Door events and can be used as template or example presentations for your own orthopaedic research outreach events.