The public health effects of laws on issues such as food safety, the health impacts of local power plants, youth concussions, and monitoring prescription drug use and access will be investigated through 15 new research projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program.
The grants announced today total more than $2 million. They include short-term studies of specific laws or regulations, long-term evaluations and time-sensitive studies, and legal datasets.
PHLR's aim is to promote the effective use of law to improve public health. Established in 2009, the program has funded 29 studies and several reviews of existing scientific evidence on major public health challenges.
Research studies already funded by PHLR are aimed at answering important questions: Can courts specializing in family-related cases reduce domestic violence and improve the health of women and children? Can public health policies reduce consumption of salt and help to reduce high blood pressure? And can a federal law reduce public health problems caused by unsafe or toxic levels of lead in drinking water?
"Each time we fund a new set of studies, we anticipate that the evidence will reach the policy debate. PHLR's objective is to be the place to go for answers to public health policy questions," said PHLR Director Scott Burris, JD.
"At the same time, PHLR is also funding studies that create legal datasets. These datasets will be available for researchers to study the public health effects of different legal and policy approaches used by states or cities. Such studies will help lawmakers understand how changes in laws and policies affect public health. The datasets already underway will also help train researchers to create their own legal datasets, and improve research methods," according to Burris.
PHLR is funded by RWJF as a part of the foundation's targeted public health strategy which includes a focus on advancing the use of law and policy to improve health, and supporting research that enables public health officials and policy makers to make informed decisions to better protect the health of their communities.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropic organization devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years, the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. When it comes to helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need, the Foundation expects to make a difference in your lifetime.
The newly funded grantees include:
- Chris Collins, MPP; Don Des Jarlais, PhD—amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research: "Barriers to Reason: Laws Impacting HIV Prevention Efforts Among Injection Drug Users in the United States"
- Allison Robertson, PhD, MPH; Marvin Swartz, MD—Duke University: "Do Brief Incarcerations Before Jail Diversion Enhance its Legal Leverage and Improve Outcomes Among People with Serious Mental Illness in Connecticut?"
- Rebecca Katz, PhD, MPH; Stephanie David, JD, MPH—George Washington University: "State Foodborne Illness Surveillance and Response Laws: Compilation and Analysis"
- Michael Livermore, JD; George Thurston, ScD—New York University: "The Effect of Peak-Shaving Regulations on the Activity, Toxic Emissions, and Health Impacts of Local Power Plants"
- Bernard Black, BA, MA, JD; David Hyman, BA, JD, MD—Northwestern University: "Does Mandatory Public Infection Reporting Affect Infection Rates?"
- Susan Mangold, JD; Gregory Kapcar, MPA—Research Foundation of State University of New York on behalf of University at Buffalo: "Measuring the Impact of Sources and Types of Funding on Health Care Outcomes for Children in Foster Care in Ohio"
- Nabarun Dasgupta, MPH; Corey Davis, JD, MSPH—University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: "Reassessing the Effectiveness of Prescription Monitoring Programs"
- Jeffrey Fagan, PhD, Amanda Geller, PhD, MEng, BS—Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York: "Mental Health and Proactive Policing: Individual and Community Effects"
- Fernando Wilson, PhD—University of North Texas Health Science Center: "Electronic Device Use and Distracted Driving Fatalities: Do State Regulations Matter?"
- Christina Porucznik, PhD, MSPH; Brian Sauer, PhD—University of Utah: "Did Changes in Controlled Substance Prescribing Licensing Lead to Changes in Opioid Prescribing or Adverse Outcomes?"
- Frederick Rivara, MD, MPH—University of Washington:"Evaluation of a Law Mandating Reporting of Concussions by High School Athletes"
- Cynthia Hallett, MPH—Americans for Nonsmokers' Rights Foundation: "Enhancing Public Health Laws Datasets: U.S. Tobacco Control Laws Database"
- Christopher Tarver Robertson, PhD, JD; Christina Cutshaw, PhD—University of Arizona: "Housing Insecurity, Foreclosures, and Public Health"
- William Fisher, PhD; John Petrila, JD, LLM—University of Massachusetts Lowell: "Creation of a Legal Database on State Involuntary In-Patient and Out-Patient Civil Commitment Laws"
- Scott D. Rhodes, PhD; Mark A. Hall, JD—Wake Forest University: "Analyzing the Impact of Immigration Enforcement by Local Officials on Access to Care Among Latinos"
While the need to address disparities in care is well known, few strategies for reducing disparities have been studied systematically.
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