268812 Policy Surveillance: What is it and Where are We?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 9:30 AM - 9:50 AM

Evan Anderson, JD , Beasley School of Law, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Jennifer Ibrahim, PhD, MPH , Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Scott Burris, JD, LLD , Beasley School of Law, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Research Objective: To introduce the emerging concept of policy surveillance and demonstrate the utility of such a system for policymakers, practitioners and researchers.

Methods: We conducted a systematic review of published literature using coded legal datasets and an online search of existing publicly available legal datasets. We identified gaps in the empirical legal data infrastructure and thus embarked on an effort to design and create a demonstration project for a policy surveillance system which addresses the deficits found in our initial review.

Results: There are currently only a handful of coded legal datasets that are readily accessible to the public. Studies of public health laws are largely cross-sectional or include incomplete data on the laws; most often this is dichotomous - mere presence of the law. We found little evidence of sustained funding for this work. In response, we launched a demonstration project to track public health laws, display maps and trend information, text of the laws, and research ready coded legal datasets. In collaboration with other researchers working to develop similar systems, we can share approaches to develop and maintain a potentially crowd-sourced, policy surveillance system.

Conclusions: Policy surveillance is an effective and efficient way to track policies and creates a necessary research infrastructure. The system can facilitate policy innovation and diffusion for policymakers and practitioners and evaluation for public health researchers. As technology advances and we learn from our experience, we look forward to working with interdisciplinary researchers to make this a research tool for all.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
- To describe the concept of policy surveillance; - To demonstrate the utility of policy surveillance to address limitations of previous research; and - To share different examples of how to create and maintain a policy surveillance system.

Keywords: Law, Surveillance

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Director of the Public Health Law Research Program, and have 25 years experience in the empirical study of law as a factor in public health.
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.