Thursday, February 21, 2013

The public health effects of laws on drugged driving, bullying, intimate partner violence, HIV decriminalization, and shared laboratory services will be investigated through five new research projects funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) Public Health Law Research (PHLR) program as part of its new Strategic and Targeted Research Program (STRP).

The grants announced today total $586,000 and will support studies representing high priority topics identified through a six-month long open call for ideas. (See description for each of the final studies below.)

PHLR’s aim is to promote the effective use of law to improve public health. Established in 2009, the program has now funded nearly 70 studies and several reviews of existing scientific evidence on major public health challenges. STRP is its newest initiative. The STRP funding mechanism invited policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, and other public health law stakeholders to identify areas they felt lacked an evidence-base. 

“PHLR seeks to provide policy-makers and practitioners with evidence relevant to their current needs. Without relevant research, important public health decisions are being made without the whole story,” said Scott Burris, professor of law at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he also directs the Center for Health Policy, Law, and Practice and the Public Health Law Research program.

“This program asks, ‘What are you missing?’ and then works with researchers to design empirical legal research that can help fill in those holes,” Burris explained.


Study Summaries

Evaluation of the Public Health Impact of School Anti-Bullying Legislation in Oregon -- Oregon Health Authority, Public Health Division, Barbara Pizacani, PhD, MPH; Co-PI: Jean O’Connor, JD, DrPH

Marijuana Decriminalization and its Effects on Drug-Involved Driving in California -- HBSA Inc. A supporting organization of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, John Lacey, MPH

Moving from Intuition to Evidence-Based Practice: Can Family Courts Promote Public Health? -- University of Rochester, Catherine Cerulli JD, PhD; Co-PI: Anne Corriveau, JD

With an Eye to the Law: Providing Client-Centered Care in the Shadow of Criminal Prosecution for HIV Exposure -- Medical College of Wisconsin, Carol Galletly, JD, PhD; Co-PI: Zita Lazzarini, JD, MPH

Building Sustainability into State Public Health Laboratories: Addressing Legal Challenges to Sharing Services -- Cambridge Health Alliance / Institute for Community Health, Justeen Hyde, PhD