Research Results

Results from grant-funded research projects evaluating public health law issues.

Legal Epidemiology for a Clearer Understanding of Abortion Laws and Their Impact

The global abortion field has a murky understanding of the impact of abortion laws. With legal epidemiology, legal and scientific researchers can together produce a clearer view of the relationships between laws and public health outcomes. Scientists study public health with a required degree of rigor, while the global study of abortion laws globally and how it they impacts public health outcomes remains less developed. Global abortion researchers tend to focus on the circumstances in which abortion is legal as the independent variable when investigating public health outcomes.

Policy Polarization and Death in the United States

The United States currently ranks last among high‑income countries for life expectancy. Since 2014, U.S. life expectancy has declined. By now, these alarming trends are well known to researchers, the public, and policymakers. Nevertheless, there is no consensus among researchers on the causes of the trends, and there has been no serious and effective bipartisan effort to solve the problem. The dominant narrative has implicated Americans’ behaviors, such as smoking, illicit drug use, and suicide; yet, this narrative is misguided and counterproductive.

Shifting from Problem Identification to Problem Solving: CityHealth as an Accountability and Solution-Driving Tool for Governmental Entities

Policy is a powerful tool that can improve health and wellbeing by addressing specific risks or impacting social conditions that are drivers of health and quality of life. But governmental policies can vary immensely from one jurisdiction to another. Surveillance of policies at the local level can help facilitate evidence‑based policy adoption between cities, states, and beyond. This essay highlights the CityHealth model, which has successfully influenced policy change by illuminating the quality and quantity of nine key city policies in the forty most populous U.S. metropolitan areas.

Toward Healthy Drug Policy in the United States — The Case of Safehouse

A new Perspective article in the New England Journal of Medicine examines a recent decision by a Philadelphia judge to reject the argument that an overdose prevention site, called Safehouse, would violate the Controlled Substances Act.

The decision signals a move toward an approach to regulating drugs that minimizes both the harms of drugs and the harms caused by regulation itself – worthy goals all around, the authors write.

A Review of Three Models For Enforcing Housing Codes

This draft memo, prepared by Angus Corbett, addresses the question of how local governments can enforce housing codes to enable low-income tenants to live in safe and healthy housing. It reviews the market for low-cost rental housing and provides an outline of the “dynamics” of this market. The memo identifies three models in use for enforcing housing codes: the “deterrence” model, the strategic code enforcement model and a meta-regulation model.

Becoming Better Messengers: Public Health Advantage

Public health leaders are called to develop more effective messages that appeal to a broader range of “moral foundations” and also to the new millennial generation who represent the future of the public health workforce. In this column, the authors turn the focus from the tools we can use to craft persuasive messages to the virtues that can make us worthy of being heeded.

Watch a short video describing the Becoming Better Messangers initiative.


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