CALL FOR ABSTRACTS — APHA 2024 Annual Meeting and Expo


Meeting theme: "Rebuilding Trust in Public Health and Science"

Submission Deadline: Friday, March 29, 2024

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 2021 Annual Meeting theme, “Rebuilding Trust in Public Health and Science.” 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 rebuild trust in public health and science. 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 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:

  • 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. (Abstracts focused on legal issues related to COVID-19 and legal preparedness and response to public health emergencies should be submitted in this 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. (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. As international law evolves, 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 international legal developments, at national, regional, and global levels. We also invite submissions that bring to light consequences, challenges, and opportunities brought about by such developments in the landscape of international law.
  • 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, needed efforts to prepare and respond to future public health emergencies, and approaches to prevent disparate impact and exacerbation of health inequities during public health emergencies.
  • Other Law Related Abstracts
    Public health law encompasses broad topics and themes that other topics may not otherwise captured. 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 Abstract Guidelines 

    • Authors must submit abstracts electronically.
    • 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 Law Section members for creating sessions that are eligible for self-submission for Continuing Legal Education, the Law Section has 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.
    • Multiple co-authors may listed on an abstract; however, the expectation is that only the submitting author will be listed as the presenter. If the abstract is 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).
    • 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.).
    • Authors are recommended to draft 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 on panels is usually 12-15 minutes.
    • The Law Section gives awards for best overall abstract and best student abstract. 
    • Students should be sure to note that they are a student, the degree they are working toward, and anticipated graduating year 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.
    • 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 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.

    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 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 Planner Leigh Haynes, 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 on or about June 3, 2024.


    For program questions, contact the Program Chair for the Law Section - Leigh Kamore Haynes


    Program Planner Contact Information:

    Leigh Haynes, JD, MPH, LLM