142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

Building Access and Understanding of Law in Public Health Practice in Nebraska

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Monday, November 17, 2014

Jennifer Ibrahim, PhD, MPH , Public Health, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Darrell Klein, JD , General Counsel Section, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, Lincoln, NE
Background: Previous research has demonstrated that there is not a clear awareness or understanding of public health laws and how they can be used as effective tools to promote population health. The Department of Health in Nebraska is at the fore-front of state health departments by trying to collect the body of laws that grant legal authority to act.

Research Objective: To systematically collect and code the body of state and local laws that govern public health practice in the state of Nebraska and evaluate knowledge and awareness among the public health workforce.

Methods: Laws that govern public health practice in Nebraska were collected through searches of LexisNexis and Westlaw, as well as consultation with experienced public health staff and lawyers to determine additional incidental public health laws. Laws were coded into LawAtlas and a publicly available interactive website was created. A survey was created to evaluate health department staff awareness and understanding of the laws.

Findings:  The current dataset includes laws that address agriculture, gambling, cemeteries, parks, health occupations, insurance, child welfare, mental health, emergency powers, transportation, alcohol and tobacco.  While some areas of law are familiar to health department staff, other content areas are used much less often and were not recognized by the staff.

Implications: The project could be a first step towards helping public health practitioners and researchers alike improve access to and knowledge of public health laws to advance the use of law in public health service delivery and public health systems and services research.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe the process for collecting and coding laws that govern public health practice in Nebraska. Identify ways in which to use a legal database to evaluate the impact of public health laws on health department performance. Discuss ways in which to view law as a tool to facilitate the work of health departments.

Keyword(s): Law, Public Health Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the PI on the study and have been involved in public health law research for the past 5 years as the Associate Director of the Public Health Law Research program.
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.