Public health experts, legal scholars and policy makers are increasingly recognizing that laws can keep people safe and healthy; for example, by encouraging the use of seat belts and by keeping the environment safe from toxins. This growing recognition has led to the emergence of “public health law research,” a developing field aimed at studying the intended and unintended consequences of laws on public health as a way to support evidence-based policy making.
In a paper published in the Milbank Quarterly, a multidisciplinary journal of population health and health policy, Temple University law professor and PHLR Director Scott C. Burris and colleagues formally introduce the field as a new way of looking at the relationship between law and health. The paper, "A Framework for Public Health Law Research," defines this emerging scientific discipline and explores the promise and challenges of studying the impact of laws on health.
Michelle Mello of the Harvard School of Public Health, Alexander Wagenaar of the University of Florida College of Medicine, Jeffery Swanson of Duke University School of Medicine, Jennifer Ibrahim of Temple University, and Jennifer Wood of Temple University are additional authors on this paper.