Through the Framework to Address Health Disparities through Collaborative Policy Efforts: Coordinating Center and Demonstration Projects funded by the Office of Minority Health (OMH), the National Network of Public Health Institutes (NNPHI) established the Coordinating Center for Health Equity Policy (Coordinating Center). The Coordinating Center will work with six OMH-funded demonstration sites over the course of three years to use legal epidemiology as a framework to assess policies that may create or perpetuate health disparities by contributing to structural racism.
Legal epidemiology, also referred to as public health law research, is the scientific study and deployment of law as a factor in the cause, distribution, and prevention of disease and injury in a population. Legal epidemiology provides a scientific approach to studying the impact and effectiveness of laws and policies on health and health disparities.
When applied to the work of the demonstration sites, legal epidemiology can serve as a solid framework because it is:
Legal epidemiology helps to advance understanding of how laws work and the causal effects of laws and policies on health, well-being, and equity. It helps to answer research questions and support qualitative and quantitative research. It informs best practices in policymaking and promotes research innovation that can promote evidence-based policymaking.
To answer the question of what impact a law or policy might have on structural or systemic racism, the Coordinating Center applies a legal epidemiology methods framework.
The Coordinating Center leverages its in-house expertise in legal epidemiology and its network of legal epidemiology subject matter experts (SMEs) with expertise in health disparities and policy analysis. Our SMEs include Dawn Hunter, JD, MPH, Director, Southeastern Region Office of The Network for Public Health Law, and Alexandra Hess, JD, MPH, Legal Training Manager, and Lindsay K. Cloud, JD, Deputy Director, of the Center for Public Health Law Research (CPHLR) at Temple University Beasley School of Law.
Dawn is an experienced state health department policymaker and legislative analyst whose work focuses on research, analysis, implementation, and capacity building related to the use of law and policy to improve health outcomes and advance racial equity. Alexandra brings experience researching, analyzing, and coding laws for the creation of legal datasets on LawAtlas, CPHLR’s flagship legal database, and has contributed to the development of reports that identify opportunities to achieve the nation’s public health objectives through law and policy. For the past 10 years, Lindsay has overseen the creation of large-scale public health law research projects using legal epidemiology to scientifically analyze and track state, local, and international policies across various public health law domains including laws that regulate firearms, intimate partner violence, civil commitment, and state preemption of local authority.
The Coordinating Center and its SMEs connect grantees with resources, provide individual and group training and technical assistance, and facilitate peer-to-peer learning and community building. These efforts support the implementation of evidence-based policy analysis to propose a revision to or replacement of policies perpetuating health disparities.
Current Demonstration Sites
- Morehouse School of Medicine, Inc. (MSM)
- Center for Black Health & Equity (CBHE)
- Native American Development Corporation (NADC)
- University of California, Irvine (UCI) Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
- Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD)
- Illinois Association for Behavioral Health (IABH)
Resources and Links
More on Legal Epidemiology
Policy Resources- Legal Epidemiology – CDC
Advancing Legal Epidemiology: An Introduction – Thompson, Cloud. & Gable (2020)
The Growing Field of Legal Epidemiology – Scott, Cloud, & Pen (2020)
The Legal Epidemiology Competency Model Version 1.0 – CDC
Developing a Database of Structural Racism–Related State Laws for Health Equity Research and Practice in the United States. Public Health Reports – Agénor M, Perkins C, Stamoulis C, et al (2021).
The Public Health Law Academy – Change Lab Solutions and CDC
CPHLR Training Events and Resources on Legal Epidemiology and Policy Surveillance
Public Health Law Research Graduate Certificate
Public Health Learning Navigator
Public Health Learning Navigator (phlearningnavigator.org)
NCCPHT (National Coordinating Center for Public Health Training) Training Opportunities
Workforce Training & Education Programs – NNPHI
Transforming the Narrative: Health Equity & The Community – A Toolkit – NNPHI
Advancing Health Equity – NNPHI
For more information, please contact our Coordinating Center Team at email@example.com.
This project is supported by the Office of Minority Health, of the Department of Health and Human Services, through Award # 1 CPIMP211304-01-00. The contents are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement by OMH/OASH/HHS or the US government.