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Public Health Law Research Theory and Methods,9781118137628
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Public Health Law Research Theory and Methods

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This is the 1st edition with a publication date of 6/4/2013.
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Public Health Law Research: Theory and Methods definitively explores the mechanisms, theories and models central to public health law research – a growing field dedicated to measuring and studying law as a central means for advancing public health.

Editors Alexander C. Wagenaar and Scott Burris outline integrated theory drawn from numerous disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences; specific mechanisms of legal effect and guidelines for collecting and coding empirical datasets of statutory and case law; optimal research designs for randomized trials and natural experiments for public health law evaluation; and methods for qualitative and cost-benefit studies of law.. They also discuss the challenge of effectively translating the results of scientific evaluations into public health laws and highlight the impact of this growing field.

“How exactly the law can best be used as a tool for protecting and enhancing the public’s health has long been the subject of solely opinion and anecdote.  Enter Public Health Law Research, a discipline designed to bring the bright light of science to the relationships between law and health.  This book is a giant step forward in illuminating that subject.” -- Stephen Teret, JD, MPH, Professor, Director, Center for Law and the Public's Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

“Wagenaar and Burris bring a dose of much needed rigor to the empirical study of which public health law interventions really matter, and which don’t.” -- Bernard S. Black, JD, Chabraja Professor, Northwestern University Law School and Kellogg School of Management

Companion Web site:

Author Biography

Alexander C. Wagenaar, PhD, is a professor of health outcomes and policy at the University of Florida College of Medicine, and associate director of the Public Health Law Research program, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Scott Burris, JD, is a professor of law at Temple University, where he directs the Center for Health Law, Policy and Practice and the Public Health Law Research program, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Table of Contents

Figures and Tables


Michelle A. Larkin


The Editors

The Contributors

Part One Framing Public Health Law Research

1. A Framework for Public Health Law Research (Scott Burris, Alexander C. Wagenaar, Jeffrey W. Swanson, Jennifer K. Ibrahim, Jennifer Wood, and Michelle M. Mello)

2. Law in Public Health Systems and Services Research (Scott Burris, Glen P. Mays, F. Douglas Scutchfield, and Jennifer K. Ibrahim)

Part Two Understanding How Law Influences Environments and Behavior

3. Perspectives from Public Health (Kelli A. Komro, Ryan J. O’Mara, and Alexander C. Wagenaar)

4. Law and Society Approaches (Robin Stryker)

5. Criminological Theories (Wesley G. Jennings and Tom Mieczkowski)

6. Procedural Justice Theory (Tom R. Tyler and Avital Mentovich)

7. Economic Theory (Frank J. Chaloupka)

8. The Theory of Triadic Influence (Brian R. Flay and Marc B. Schure)

9. Integrating Diverse Theories for Public Health Law Evaluation (Scott Burris and Alexander C. Wagenaar)

Part Three Identifying and Measuring Legal Variables

10. Picturing Public Health Law Research: The Value of Causal Diagrams (Jeffrey W. Swanson and Jennifer K. Ibrahim)

11. Measuring Statutory Law and Regulations for Empirical Research (Evan D. Anderson, Charles Tremper, Sue Thomas, and Alexander C. Wagenaar)

12. Coding Case Law for Public Health Law Evaluation (Mark Hall)

Part Four Designing Public Health Law Evaluations

13. Evaluating Public Health Law Using Randomized Experiments (Alan S. Gerber, Donald P. Green, and Allison J. Carnegie)

14. Natural Experiments: Research Design Elements for Optimal Causal Inference Without Randomization (Alexander C. Wagenaar and Kelli A. Komro)

15. Qualitative Research Strategies for Public Health Law Evaluation (Jennifer Wood)

16. Cost-Effectiveness and Cost-Benefit Analysis of Public Health Laws (Ted R. Miller and Delia Hendrie)

17. The Future of Public Health Law Research (Scott Burris and Alexander C. Wagenaar)



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