Policy is a powerful tool that can improve health and wellbeing by addressing specific risks or impacting social conditions that are drivers of health and quality of life. But governmental policies can vary immensely from one jurisdiction to another. Surveillance of policies at the local level can help facilitate evidence‑based policy adoption between cities, states, and beyond. This essay highlights the CityHealth model, which has successfully influenced policy change by illuminating the quality and quantity of nine key city policies in the forty most populous U.S. metropolitan areas.
Medicaid is at the core of the opioid overdose epidemic. Both state and federal government reactions continue to shape the outcomes of this epidemic while death rates in some states continue to increase. There is a strong correlation between those suffering from opioid use disorder and those eligible for Medicaid. Most significantly, individuals with opioid use disorder enrolled in their state’s Medicaid program experience greater positive health outcomes compared to those without coverage.
The global abortion field has a murky understanding of the impact of abortion laws. With legal epidemiology, legal and scientific researchers can together produce a clearer view of the relationships between laws and public health outcomes. Scientists study public health with a required degree of rigor, while the global study of abortion laws globally and how it they impacts public health outcomes remains less developed. Global abortion researchers tend to focus on the circumstances in which abortion is legal as the independent variable when investigating public health outcomes.
This essay reflects on 10 years of legal epidemiology, and projects a research agenda for the next decade of work. Mello describes the innovations behind measuring the law, testing its effects, and disseminating discoveries. The essay was adapted from Mello's keynote address at the Center's 10th anniversary symposium in September 2019.
The United States currently ranks last among high‑income countries for life expectancy. Since 2014, U.S. life expectancy has declined. By now, these alarming trends are well known to researchers, the public, and policymakers. Nevertheless, there is no consensus among researchers on the causes of the trends, and there has been no serious and effective bipartisan effort to solve the problem. The dominant narrative has implicated Americans’ behaviors, such as smoking, illicit drug use, and suicide; yet, this narrative is misguided and counterproductive.
Public health research demonstrates that population health is shaped in large measure by numerous social factors, widely known as the social determinants of health. This Essay argues that immigration law acts as a social determinant that affects the health of both noncitizens and citizens.
This series of six reports explores the role of law in housing equity and exploring innovative uses of law to improve health equity through housing.