CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA's 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo


Meeting theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence"

Submission Deadline: Friday, February 28, 2020


Please be sure to read this abstract call and important guidelines closely.

The Law Section of APHA is interested in receiving submissions that focus on current hot topics in public health law and are relevant to APHA’s 2020 Annual Meeting theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Preventing Violence.” We welcome all outstanding abstracts that address research on the impact of law and policy on public health, legal theory with important implications for public health, or the practice of law to advance health across many public health issues, including behavioral health, chronic disease, environmental health, infectious disease, injury, and social determinants of health, among others.

In line with this year’s theme, we also invite abstracts that particularly address the ways law has or can be used to prevent violence. This includes physical and psychological violence that occurs as a result of intentional use of physical force or that is structurally mediated by institutions and systems of power. We welcome abstracts that bring a range of perspectives and approaches for preventing violence at local, national, or international levels.

The Law Section also seeks and encourages collaboration with other APHA sections to bring law to a wider audience, to engage with practitioners and researchers with content expertise in the topic areas, and to integrate law into important discussions of current public health issues rather than perpetuate law as a silo in matters of health and health care.

Therefore, we seek presentations (oral and poster) on the legal research, theory, and practice and will do our best to partner with other sections to facilitate rich and meaningful discussions related to each of these priority areas:

  • Annual Theme: Preventing Violence
    Violence is a public health crisis, and preventing violence should be approached as such. Much violence, which disproportionately affects marginalized populations, comes at the hands of institutions such as law enforcement and the criminal justice system as well as in the form of war and human rights violations. Legal and policy approaches, especially in partnership with communities, can be used to address the underlying and upstream causes of violence to prevent unnecessary physical and psychological harm.
  • Behavioral and Mental Health
    Public health concerns related to mental illness and substance misuse and abuse require a balance between individual rights and safety along with broader issues of public safety. The Law Section invites submissions that address the ways in which laws can address mental and behavioral health issues including access to services, suicide prevention, violence prevention, , overdose prevention, adverse childhood events (ACEs), other associated behavioral health outcomes.
  • Chronic Disease
    The average life span has significantly increased over the last few decades but the consequences of chronic disease such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, asthma, Alzheimer's disease and others has also increased. Law can be a powerful tool to address factors associated with these conditions such as promoting physical activity, access to health foods, access to appropriate care, and air quality. The Law Section seeks presentations on ways in which to effectively use law to decrease morbidity associated with chronic conditions.(The Law Section also requests topics specifically related to laws and policies impacting cancer care for patients for a special collaborative session. Please submit these under Health Care.)
  • Environmental Health
    The Law Section is interested in abstracts that address laws and policies that help to promote healthy environments and limit exposure to harmful substances. Potential topics may include climate change, air quality, environmentally-associated respiratory disease, and water and soil contamination.
  • Health Care
    While the fields of public health and health care have historically been considered distinct and independent, public health and health care professionals have come to realize the benefits of collaboration to prevent and mitigate illness and injury and reduce fatalities. Such an integrated system has the potential to improve health outcomes and support patients and families as well as health care workers. The Law Section seeks abstracts that explore ways law can be used as a tool to facilitate continued and improved collaboration between the fields of public health and health care. (The Law Section also requests topics specifically related to laws and policies impacting cancer care for patients for a special collaborative session. Please submit these under this topic as well.)
  • Infectious Disease
    Reduction and prevention of infectious diseases is a primary function of public health. Law has been a critical tool in implementing public health efforts such as vaccination, isolation and quarantine, and other disease control measures, to prevent spread of communicable diseases. Law is also a critical tool in prevention and control of foodborne and vector borne diseases. The Law Section is interested in presentations that explore current trends in the use of law to address infectious disease.
  • Injury
    Laws and policies have been used as a means of public health intervention to prevent a range of injuries by discouraging or prohibiting high-risk behaviors and reducing dangerous environments. Potential topics include, but are not limited to sports-related injuries, vehicle related injuries, and burns, drowning and poisoning.
  • Jurisprudence, Legal Theory, Litigation
    Law Section encourages submissions that explore overarching legal theories and doctrine. Submissions will be considered on important topics such as public health agency structure and authority; decision-making, responsibility, and liability; preemption; lobbying and advocacy; First Amendment; and other cross-cutting legal issues. Submissions on important public health litigation may also be included in this category.
  • Social Determinants of Health
    The environment - physical and social - are major factors that shape the way we live, work, thrive, learn and die. The Law Section seeks presentations that address these factors that influence our health and well-being including, but not limited to, education, employment, housing, law enforcement and public safety, food access and other similar topics.
  • Other Law Related Abstracts
    Public health law encompasses broad topics and themes that may not otherwise be listed above. (Examples include, but are not limited to, abstracts related to public health law teaching; interdisciplinary collaboration between public health, law and others; and building legal capacity.)

    Important Abstract Guidelines 

    • Authors must submit abstracts electronically
    • Authors should review their APHA profile and update contact information, degrees, position and organization/institution. This helps us with preparing materials for Continuing Legal Education (see below).
    • Authors must indicate their intended audience in the abstract (e.g., public health lawyers or others with legal expertise, public health professionals without legal expertise, etc.).
    • We highly recommend drafting the abstract and learning objectives offline in a word document to edit them before pasting into the submission form.
    • The time allotment for presentations in our panels is usually 15 minutes.
    • We give awards for best student abstract, so students should be sure to note this in the “Note to Planner” field. We highly encourage the submission of student work.
    • Abstracts are limited to 250 words.
    • Do not include names or identifying information in the text of the abstract.
    • Do not submit work that is in-progress and will not be complete by the time of the meeting. Preliminary findings are acceptable, but we do not want presentations just on the study design.
    • Presenting authors must provide a conflict of interest disclosure and a qualification statement that specifically justifies their presentation of the material; a general statement of the author’s training or degrees earned is NOT sufficient.
    • Authors may indicate their preference for “oral only,” “poster only,” or “no preference” at submission. Oral sessions are limited and highly competitive.  We encourage authors to select “no preference” to maximize flexibility.
    • Multiple abstracts may be submitted; however, authors submitting more than one abstract to this call should indicate their order of preference for which they would like to present or "no preference" in the "Note to Planners" field.  
    • All presenters must be members of APHA by the date of the meeting and must register for the meeting.
    • While anyone may submit an abstract to this Law Section call, as a way to encourage collaboration of public health practitioners with attorneys, and also to meet the needs of our members for creating sessions that are eligible for self-submission for Continuing Legal Education, we do have a preference for abstracts on legal research, theory or practice developed by lawyers or law students or where the work being presented on was conducted in conjunction, consultation, or coordination with lawyers. 
    • We also strongly encourage presenting authors to check the dates of the meeting to ensure that availability if the abstract is selected. With a high volume of abstracts submitted and only a limited number of presentation time, we do not want to accept presentations if the research will not be ready to present or if the authors are unable to attend. If an unavoidable conflict arises for either an oral or poster session and no co-author is available to present, please alert us as soon as possible, so that we may select a replacement.

    Panel Submissions

    Panels are groupings of individual abstracts. Each presentation requires an individual abstract submission. Panel proposals must adhere to the following procedure:

    1. One abstract must be submitted for each individual presentation with a unique title and abstract body. Do not include names or other identifying information in the body of the abstracts. During submission process, please indicate in the “Note to Planner” field that the abstract is to be considered as part of a panel and note whether author would still be interested in presenting the abstract if the panel is not accepted as a whole.
    2. Panel organizer must send an email to the Program Stacie Kershner, at with the following information: (1) the panel title; (2) submission #s of all abstracts to be considered part of the panel; (3) a brief paragraph explaining the objective of the panel; and (4) the names of other panel presenters.

    Continuing Legal Education

    While APHA does not submit for CLE, the Law Section prepares and compiles materials for attorneys to self-submit to their home bar association for eligible Law Section sponsored panels.

    To be sure that presentations are eligible for self-submission in most jurisdictions, please be sure that APHA profile information clearly states presenting author's and co-authors' degrees and current organization/institution affiliation.

    Continuing Education Credit

    APHA values the ability to provide continuing education credit to physicians, nurses, health educators, veterinarians, and those certified in public health at its annual meeting. Please complete all required information when submitting an abstract so members can claim credit for attending your session. These credits are necessary for members to keep their licenses and credentials.

    For a session to be eligible for Continuing Education Credit, each presenter must provide:

    • An abstract free of trade and/or commercial product names
    • At least one MEASURABLE outcomes (DO NOT USE “To understand” or “To learn” as objectives, they are not measureable). Examples of Acceptable Measurable Action Words:  Explain, Demonstrate, Analyze, Formulate, Discuss, Compare, Differentiate, Describe, Name, Assess, Evaluate, Identify, Design, Define or List.
    • A signed Conflict of Interest (Disclosure) form with a relevant Qualification Statement. See an example of an acceptable Qualification Statement on the online Disclosure form.

    Contact Mighty Fine at if you have any questions concerning continuing education credit. Please contact the program planner for all other questions.


    Authors will be notified of the abstract review decisions by June 1, 2020.


    For program questions, contact the Program Chair for the Law Section - Stacie Kershner at


    Program Planner Contact Information:

    Leigh K. Haynes, JD, MPH, LLM

    Seema Mohapatra, JD, MPH
    Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
    530 W. New York Ave. #362
    Indianapolis, IN 46202
    Phone: 3172784736

    Stacie Kershner, J.D.
    Center for Law, Health & Society
    Georgia State University College of Law
    PO Box 4037
    Atlanta, GA 30303