Public Health Law Research Program Funds 15 New Studies

    • January 23, 2012

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: