Philadelphia, Pa.—The public health effects of laws on issues such as food safety, bullying, distracted driving, and alcohol control laws will be investigated through 12 new research projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program.
The grants announced today total nearly $2.5 million and will support short-term and time-sensitive studies on specific laws or regulations, long-term evaluations of laws and regulations, and the development of legal datasets.
PHLR’s aim is to promote the effective use of law to improve public health. Established in 2009, the program has now funded 60 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: Are local lead laws the key to reaching children who remain at risk of lead poisoning? Do state regulations matter in electronic device use and distracted driving fatalities? And do laws mandating reporting of concussions by high school athletes make a difference in health outcomes?
“With each new set of studies, PHLR works to further expand the body of evidence that helps policy-makers make informed decisions that positively impact the health of their communities,” said PHLR Director Scott Burris.
“Much of the evidence produced by our grantees answers specific policy questions, but 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.
Burris is Professor of Law at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he also directs the Center for Health Policy, Law and Practice.
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