Public Health Law Research Program Funds Nine New Studies

    • December 19, 2013

Philadelphia, Pa.—The public health effects of laws on issues such as prescription drug abuse, occupational health and safety, and distracted driving will be investigated through nine new research projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program.

The grants announced today total nearly $1.1 million and will support short-term and time-sensitive studies on specific laws or regulations and the development of legal datasets. See the summaries for more details on the latest round of research projects funded by PHLR.

PHLR’s aim is to promote the effective use of law to improve public health. Established in 2009, the program has now funded more than 70 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, JD.

“PHLR is also funding studies that create legal datasets to help researchers study the public health effects of different legal and policy approaches used by states or cities. These datasets will help lawmakers understand how changes in laws and policies affect public health and will help train researchers to create their own legal datasets, and improve research methods,” according to Burris.

About the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

For more than 40 years the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has focused on the most pressing health issues facing our country. We are committed to building a national culture of health that will enable all Americans to live longer, healthier lives now and for generations to come. For more information, visit Follow the Foundation on Twitter at or on Facebook at

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937