246547 Using computational models to demonstrate the impact of distributed school closure authority on the spread of infectious disease

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 4:30 PM

Margaret A. Potter, MS, JD , Center for Public Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Patricia Sweeney, JD, MPH, RN , Department of Health Policy and Management, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, Pittsburgh, PA
Bruce Y. Lee, MD, MBA , Department of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Biomedical Informatics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Shawn Brown, PhD , Graduate School of Public Health , Public Health Dynamics Lab, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Tina Hershey, JD, MPH , Graduate School of Public Health Center for Public Health Practice, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Joshua Epstein, PhD , School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Pittsburgh, PA
Christopher Keane, ScD , Behavioral and Community Health Sciences, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
Previous generations of infectious disease modeling have assumed that mitigation strategies such as school closures are implemented immediately and uniformly. Across the US however, state and local jurisdictions have highly differentiated legal authorities and thus, such interventions are not immediately and uniformly applied. The purpose of this research was to analyze and characterize the distribution of legal authority for school closure as a disease mitigation strategy, and to impose this heterogeneity across jurisdictions upon computational models of infectious disease outbreaks. The distribution of this authority in each state was classified on a scale of 1-7, ranging from 1 indicating single state level authority (enabling the most uniform school closure), to 6 denoting shared authority at the local level authority (allowing potential disagreement and marked heterogeneity across local jurisdictions) to 7 (denoting no express statutorily derived school closure authority and thus the greatest potential for delay and heterogeneity). Utilizing qualitative research methodologies to characterize the content of the school closure laws enabled the application of law and legal authority to computational modeling. Applying this scheme of distributed school closure authority across jurisdictions to computational models revealed marked differences in the spread of infectious disease as a result of delayed and heterogeneous school closures. Modeling the potential impact of the distribution of this authority can inform critical decisions such as when and how to most effectively implement school closure as a disease mitigation strategy.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
At the conclusion of the session participants will be able to: 1. Discuss how qualitative research methods can be used to analyze and characterize legal text. 2. Explain the impact of distributed school closure authority on infectious disease spread 3. Assess potential opportunities for using computational modeling to inform policy and legal issues.

Keywords: Public Health Research, Infectious Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I conceptualized this research, participated in the design and analysis, and wrote the abstract.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.