CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo


Meeting theme: "Creating the Healthiest Nation: Overcoming Social and Ethical Challenges"

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 31, 2023

Please be sure to read this abstract call and important guidelines closely. Abstracts that do not comply with guidelines might not be considered.

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 2023 Annual Meeting theme, “Creating the Healthiest Nation: Overcoming Social and Ethical Challenges.” 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, as listed below. In line with this year’s theme, we invite abstracts that particularly address the ways law has or can be used to address social and ethical challenges. We welcome abstracts that bring a range of perspectives and approaches 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 invite abstracts for presentations (oral, roundtable, and/or poster) on legal  research, theory, and practice and will do our best to host sessions, and to partner with other sections on sessions, that facilitate rich and meaningful interdisciplinary discussions related to each of these priority areas:

  • Addressing Health Disparities
    Law is a powerful tool to achieve equity. Although law is often used as a method to hold up and perpetuate gross inequities, trailblazers for social justice use law to carve out bold ways to transform the world around us.  Through legislation and litigation at local and national levels as well as international agreements, law can pave the path towards equity.  We  invite abstracts that reflect on and demonstrate how law has been used to achieve equity and explore innovative use of law to move us further along down the path towards equity. These submissions may reflect the interdisciplinary nature of health equity and explore themes of racism, education, employment, housing, food access, and other similar topics.
  • Behavioral and Mental Health and Substance Use
    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 lifespan 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.
  • 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. Topics related to the built environment are also invited.
  • 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.
  • 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. (Note, abstracts focused on legal issues related to COVID-19 and legal preparedness and response to public health emergencies should be submitted in the category.)
  • 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. Laws intended to prevent intentional injury may also be considered. (Note, abstracts specifically looking at criminal justice or policing are important but may be a better fit for another section. These will only be considered if examining laws.)
  • International Law and Legal Developments
    The international legal landscape is rapidly changing and developing, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to international emergencies, countries have begun processes review existing instruments, such as the International Health Regulations and the WTO TRIPS agreement, and negotiate new ones, such as the WHO instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. As countries move forward in these processes, it is important that the protection of public health and human rights are protected at all levels. The Law Section invites submissions that demonstrate the impact of these, and other, international legal developments, at national and global level. We also invite submissions that bring to light consequences, challenges, and opportunities brought about by these developments in the international legal landscape.
  • Jurisprudence, Legal Theory and Litigation
    The 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.
  • Legal Preparedness and Response for Public Health Emergencies (including COVID)
    The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching and will have long-lasting effects on health outcomes and on public health legal authorities. We call for submissions that evaluate shortcomings of law in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss needed efforts to prepare and respond to future public health emergencies and prevent disparate impact and exacerbation of health inequities.
  • 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 of the public health law workforce.)

    Important Information

    • Law Section submissions are selected based on several factors:
      • Peer review scores;
      • Degree to which law and policy are the focus of the abstract;
      • Topics that work together as a law panel theme;
      • Diversity of panel themes;
      • Timeliness and importance of the topic;
      • Balance of abstracts on legal theory, research and practice;
      • Presentation of the topic at a prior APHA Annual Meeting;
      • Ability to participate in a collaborative session with other sections on a given topic; and
      • Number of slots provided by APHA, which varies year to year.
    • The Law Section has a strong preference for abstracts developed by lawyers or law students or where the research being presented was conducted in collaboration with lawyers.
    • Occasionally, the Law Section will have an invited speaker, selected for their expertise on a particular issue, whether as a Law Section keynote or to round out a panel. 
    • The Law Section seeks to maximize exposure to presentations on law-related topics and may share submitted abstracts to other sections hosting panels on a related topic. 
    • The Law Section gives awards for best overall abstract and best student abstract. 
    • The Law Section attempts to include or endorse all law-related presentations, whether hosted by the Law Section, another section, or APHA, in advertising to the Section. 
    • All Law Section members and those interested in the role of law and policy in improving public health outcomes and eliminating disparities are encouraged to attend the Law Section business meeting and social hour at the APHA Annual Meeting.

    Individual Abstract Submission Guidelines

    Authors are recommended to draft the abstract and learning objectives offline in a word document to edit them before pasting into the submission form. Double check that the following guidelines are met:

    • Abstracts are limited to 250 words.
    • Multiple co-authors may be listed on an abstract; however, only the submitting author will be listed as the presenter. If accepted, the submitting author can change the presenter in the system if needed. The Law Section is not responsible for making this change. 
    • Authors should carefully review their APHA profile and update contact information, degrees, position and organization/institution. This is critical for prioritization (above) and for preparing materials for Continuing Legal Education (below).
    • 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 presentations solely on study design are not.
    • 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. While organizers will attempt to honor these preferences, oral sessions are limited and highly competitive. Organizers may offer a roundtable or poster opportunity if slots are available, even if authors have stated preference for an oral session. 
    • 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 presenting authors must be members of APHA by the date of the meeting and must register for the meeting.
    • Authors should check the dates of the meeting to ensure their availability if the abstract is selected. With a high volume of abstracts submitted and only a limited number of presentation time, submission is discouraged 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 the program planners as soon as possible, so that a replacement may be selected.
    • If selected for an oral session, the time allotment to present is usually 10-15 minutes. 

    Panel Submission Guidelines

    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 panelist presentation with a unique title and abstract body. Do not include panelist names or other identifying information in the body of the abstracts. 
    2. Indicate in the “Note to Planner” field that the abstract is to be considered as part of a panel and whether the individual author would still be interested in presenting the abstract if the panel is not accepted as a whole.
    3. 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 measurable). 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 on or about June 1, 2023.


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


    Program Planner Contact Information:

    Stacie Kershner,


    Leigh Haynes,