Mechanisms of Legal Effect: Perspectives from Public Health

Public Health Law Research Methods Monograph Series, Forthcoming

41 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2012

See all articles by Kelli Komro

Kelli Komro

University of Florida - Institute for Child Health Policy

Ryan O'Mara

University of Florida

Alexander C Wagenaar

University of Florida, College of Medicine

Date Written: April 10, 2012

Abstract

Public health approaches dating back to the late 18th century and earlier were primarily focused on economic, social and physical environmental conditions that increase risk of morbidity and mortality. As public health and medical breakthroughs of the early 20th century controlled infectious diseases and expanded life expectancy, public health shifted its attention from infectious to chronic disease. This era of public health primarily focused on individual-level risk factors and intervention approaches. Most recently there has been a movement to re-emphasize the importance of fundamental determinants of health and disease, including economic, social and physical conditions.

The public health perspective highlights many mechanisms through which laws affect economic, social and physical conditions that, in turn, affect population distributions of risky or protective exposures and risky or protective behaviors. Exposures and behaviors, in turn, affect population health outcomes. Smoke-free laws, anti-discrimination laws, and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) illustrate causal pathways from law to population health outcomes. A wide variety of data are available for exploring mechanisms of legal effects on population distributions of exposures, the health-related behaviors of individuals and organizations, and health outcomes.

Keywords: public health, public health law research, empirical legal studies

Suggested Citation

Komro, Kelli and O'Mara, Ryan and Wagenaar, Alexander C, Mechanisms of Legal Effect: Perspectives from Public Health (April 10, 2012). Public Health Law Research Methods Monograph Series, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2042591

Kelli Komro (Contact Author)

University of Florida - Institute for Child Health Policy ( email )

P.O. Box 100147
Gainesville, FL 32610-0147
United States

Ryan O'Mara

University of Florida ( email )

PO Box 117165, 201 Stuzin Hall
Gainesville, FL 32610-0496
United States

Alexander C Wagenaar

University of Florida, College of Medicine ( email )

PO Box 117165, 201 Stuzin Hall
Gainesville, FL 32610-0496
United States

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