All posts tagged: public health law research

Road sign reading Data, Information, Knowledge, Learning

Working at the Intersection of Legal Practice and Science for the Public’s Health

If you’ve been up to the third floor of Barrack Hall in the past year, you may have run into some of our staff … lawyers, a few social scientists and communicators, toiling away in Suite 300. If you haven’t stopped in to ask what they’re doing, I encourage you to do so, because it’s exciting, and in many ways, revolutionary. Our work, essentially, supports the widespread adoption of scientific tools and methods for mapping and evaluating the impact of law on health. In 2009, we began as the National Program Office for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research program under the Law School’s Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice, to make the case for laws that improve health. We were asked by RWJF to build the field and identify methods for researching the impact of laws and policies on health and wellbeing. As we started, we realized that it’s difficult to evaluate the impact of laws and policies on health if you don’t know what the laws and policies are, …

No Smoking Sign

A Transdisciplinary Approach to Public Health Law: The Emerging Practice of Legal Epidemiology

A transdisciplinary model of public health law, linking both its legal and scientific elements, can help break down enduring cultural, disciplinary, and resource barriers that have prevented the full recognition and optimal role of law in public health. Public health law has roots in both law and science. For more than a century, lawyers have helped develop and implement health laws; over the last 50 years, scientific evaluation of the health effects of laws and legal practices has achieved high levels of rigor and influence. We describe an emerging model of public health law uniting these two traditions. This transdisciplinary model adds scientific practices to the lawyerly functions of normative and doctrinal research, counseling, and representation. These practices include policy surveillance and empirical public health law research on the efficacy of legal interventions and the impact of laws and legal practices on health and health system operation. Download the Paper at SSRN

Big Data

Public Health Law Monitoring and Evaluation in a Big Data Future

Law is important to public health. It provides government health agencies with their jurisdiction and regulatory authority. Laws and regulations are routinely used in the name of health to regulate behavior and foster safer environments. More fundamentally, law’s influence in shaping everyday life and the socioeconomic and physical environments in which it unfolds has a powerful impact on both the level and distribution of health. Despite law’s importance, and despite the strong orientation toward scientific evaluation in public health, the study of the impact of laws and legal practices on health (“public health law research”) has been uneven. While research of the highest quality has been sustained in a few areas like auto safety and tobacco control, it has been infrequent or truncated in others, like gun control and HIV/AIDS. The research that has been supported is almost entirely aimed at evaluating deliberate legal interventions. Epidemiological research on unintended health effects of non-health laws has been almost entirely neglected. Overall, the national investment in rigorously separating the laws that help from the laws that hurt has …