Public Health Law Research: Making the Case for Laws that Improve Health

A Progress Report

Dates of Program: December 2008 to June 2016

Field of Work: Promoting the effective use of law to improve public health

Problem Synopsis: Laws are one of the most effective ways to improve public health yet a gap exists in looking systematically at the effects of laws on public health. Without rigorous research, it is difficult to know whether laws are making a difference and if they are, why.

Synopsis of the Work: Public Health Law Research (PHLR) has awarded more than 40 grants in which researchers carry out legal analysis and research to learn about the impact of specific laws and regulations on public health. The program also develops guides and other materials to help researchers carry out rigorous studies.

Key Results to Date

  • In its first three years of operation, PHLR has:

    • Produced more than 50 evidence briefs assessing the effect of specific laws or policies on the health of the public
    • Funded or carried out research projects that seek to build the evidence for and strengthen the use of regulatory, legal, and policy solutions to improve public health
    • Created resources to help researchers improve their ability to work in public health law research including methods guides, and legal datasets