Public Health Law Research Program Brief Descriptions of Grants

Grantee project summaries.

    • December 6, 2009

Boston University School of Law & U Mass-Amherst School of Public Health

Antibiotic resistance: In a post-antibiotic era, public health would suffer serious reversals of the health gains won over the past sixty years. The legal environment affects both antibiotic production as well as the conservation of antibiotics in the face of resistance. This project combines powerful databases to empirically test theoretical claims about the relationships between legal regulations and antibiotic resistance. The policy goal is to minimize the population impact of infectious diseases.

Medical College of Wisconsin, Center for AIDS Intervention Research

Criminal HIV disclosure laws: This project will examine the impact of New Jersey’s HIV disclosure law—which requires persons with HIV to inform sex partners of their HIV-positive status—on people who are HIV-positive or at risk of contracting the disease. The project will measure study participants’ understanding of the law, perceptions about HIV stigma, comfort with disclosure, HIV testing, and sexual behavior.

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Minors’ access to abortion and emergency contraception: This project will evaluate the impact in terms of possible changes in the rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea, of laws requiring parental involvement in minors' decisions to obtain an abortion, as well as laws restricting minors’ access to over-the-counter emergency contraception.

Arizona State University

Public health emergencies: This project will explore how to use law in public health emergencies to protect communities from death and disease. Researchers will focus on the legal issues that affect decision making across a wide variety of health problems caused by a health emergency.

North Carolina Institute for Public Health

Health department accreditation: This project will map accreditation laws, policies, and regulations in 20 states that have made progress toward accrediting state or local health departments. It also will conduct case studies of six of those states to determine how and why they chose a particular legal structure. The case studies will use public health system and services research (PHSSR) to explore the impact of legal structures on accreditation capacity, functions, and outputs.

George Mason University

Exemptions from vaccination: This project will explore the effect of religious and other non-medical exemptions from vaccination requirements on rates of infectious disease. Researchers will examine eight years of data in all states, and focus on the prevalence of measles, mumps, pertussis, chickenpox, and hepatitis B. The project's findings will assist states and localities in their ongoing efforts to improve vaccination policy.

Drexel University

Exposure to lead: This project will evaluate the effect of Philadelphia’s Lead Court on children's residential exposure to lead and the prevalence of properties with lead hazards. The Lead Court is an innovative approach to enforcement of city-generated orders to property owners to carry out lead abatement of their properties.

HBSA: A Supporting Organization of Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE)

Mixed Land Use Zones: This project will analyze the relationship between the presence of Mixed Land Use Zones (MUZs) in 31 California counties and an array of health indicators such as rates of obesity, asthma, cancer, heart disease, mental health, and injuries. Researchers will explore the degree to which MUZs improve public health outcomes, and whether variation in MUZ uses (residential, commercial, industrial, civic), or conditions placed on these uses, affect those relationships. Additional factors to be considered include effective dates of MUZs, number of MUZs per county, presence of public transportation systems, and population size.

RAND Corporation

Land-use regulation: This project will study six Los Angeles neighborhoods to assess relationships among land-use regulation, the built environment, and crime.

University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law

Alternatives to lead: This project will develop and implement a tool for regulating alternatives to lead. Researchers will examine the uses of lead in the United States, the nature of human exposure to lead, the availability of safer alternatives, and barriers to technology diffusion.

University of San Diego School of Law

Healthy choices: This project will explore how individuals make decisions about vaccinations, sexual behavior, and other forms of disease prevention, as well as medical interventions, and health insurance. The study will map requirements imposed by courts, legislatures, and regulators. The researchers will conduct experiments on how people react to risk in different situations.

Duke University

Domestic violence: This project will assess the effects of unified family courts in North Carolina on domestic violence, children’s health and education, and women’s health.

New York University

Public health policy-making: This project will examine how states choose among diverse policy options involving public health. Topics covered by the project include the comprehensiveness and consistency of health policies within states, determinants of state health policy choices, and the extent to which different health policy options affect health outcomes.

Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials

Local public health regionalization: This project will examine different regional approaches to local public health services in Colorado. It will include a national review of state laws and strategies that impact regionalization, a legal analysis of the impact of the 2008 Colorado Public Health Act on regionalization, an assessment of legal mechanisms for implementing regionalization, and an exploration of the determinants of barriers to regionalization.

University of Virginia School of Law

Advance directives for mental health care: This project will focus on implementation of newly enacted revisions to Virginia’s Health Care Decisions Act (HCDA) that authorize people to create advance directives for mental health care. Besides developing recommendations for effective implementation, the project will identify key barriers and factors affecting health outcomes, safety, and quality of life for people with severe mental illnesses.