The resources in this section focus on positioning public health law research in the broader context of public health science and the study of law. These resources define basic terms (like “law”), categorize the various forms of public health law research, and provide frameworks for understanding public health law and legal aspects of public health systems and services research.

The Five Essential Public Health Law Services

The authors describe Five Essential Public Health Law Services and suggest investment in the people, methods and tools needed to move major policy initiatives from conception to widespread implementation. The model reflects a transdisciplinary approach integrating public health legal practice with law-related surveillance, evaluation and enforcement functions usually performed by public health practitioners.

Legal Regulation of Health-Related Behavior: A Half-Century of Public Health Law Research

Legal intervention to influence individual health behavior has increased dramatically since the 1960s. This paper describes the rise of law as a tool of public health, and the scientific research that has assessed and often guided it, with a focus on five major domains: traffic safety, gun violence, tobacco use, reproductive health and obesity. These topical stories illustrate both law’s effectiveness and limitations as a public health tool. They also establish its popularity by the most apt of metrics – the willingness of legislators to enact it.

Making the Case for Laws That Improve Health: A Framework for Public Health Law Research

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.