Public health law has received considerable attention in recent years and is assuming the role of an essential field within public health. Public health law research has received less attention. This paper explores the boundaries and promise of public health law research, defined as the scientific study of the relation of law and legal practices to population health. The paper offers a logic model of public health law research and a typology of approaches for studying the effects of law on public health. Research on the content and prevalence of public health laws; processes of adopting and implementing laws; and the extent to which and mechanisms through which law affects health outcomes can be pursued using methods drawn from epidemiology, economics, sociology, and other disciplines. The maturation of public health law research as a field depends on overcoming several challenges, including the need to assure methodological rigor, adequate research funding, access to appropriate data sources, and uptake of research findings by policy makers. Public health law research is a young field, but holds great promise for supporting evidence-based policy making that will improve population health.
Burris S and others