Online Program

Federal investments in public health law research, 1985-2012

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 5:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.

Aaron Sorensen, BS, MA, Elsevier, Inc., Philadelphia, PA
A key challenge of building the field of Public Health Law is finding funding to support the rigorous evaluation of law and policy development. In an effort to quantify past trends in federal funding for PHLR, an expert panel reviewed the abstracts of 7,158 peer-reviewed articles authored by known PHLR investigators and determined whether each article reported on an empirical study that assessed the impact of specific laws and regulations on public health. This corpus was then used to train a Naive Bayes (NB) classifier to recognize not-yet-categorized documents as being PHLR or non-PHLR. The PHLR-trained, NB classifier subsequently categorized all federally-funded grants in the RePORTER database since 1985. PHLR and non-PHLR grants were then analyzed on a number of independent variables including funding institute, grant amount, grant type, and spending category. Correlation statistics were calculated for both PHLR and non-PHLR grants using the above variables to determine if there exist meaningful differences between the funding landscapes of PHLR research and research for the life sciences as a whole. Finally, all papers in PubMed which acknowledged receiving NIH support from PHLR grants were run through the NB classifier to determine to what degree federally-funded PHLR grants produce PHLR peer-reviewed literature. A future line of investigation is a survey-based study of NIH program managers, study-section members, and investigators to determine if there exist any discernible differences in the attitudes of people involved in the process of awarding federal dollars for PHLR studies when compared to the life sciences as a whole.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe the trends in federal funding for public health law research since 1985. Define differences in funding over time for public health law research as opposed to life-sciences research more generally. Discuss opportunities to advocate for increased funding available for rigorous evaluations of law and policy development.

Keyword(s): Health Law, Public Health Research

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Aaron Sorensen is a Scientometric Analyst for Elsevier and has been working with the Public Health Law Research team for the last two years to evaluate the field of published PHLR literature.
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.