For three decades, experts have been stressing the importance of law to the effective operation of public health systems.

This article sets out a unified framework for the two fields and a shared research agenda built around three broad inquiries: (1) the structural role of law in shaping the organization, powers, prerogatives, duties, and limitations of public health agencies and thereby their functioning and ultimately their impact on public health ("infrastructure"); (2) the mechanisms through which public health system characteristics influence the implementation of interventional public health laws ("implementation"); and (3) the individual and system characteristics that influence the ability of public health systems and their community partners to develop and secure enactment of legal initiatives to advance public health ("innovation"). Research to date has laid a foundation of evidence, but progress requires better and more accessible data, a new generation of researchers comfortable in both law and health research, and more rigorous methods.

Burris, S., Mays G.P., Scutchfield, F.D., Ibrahim, J.K. Moving from Intersection to Integration: Public Health Law Research and Public Health Systems and Services Research. The Milbank Quarterly, 90(2), 375-408.