Coded Statutory Datasets for Public Health Law Research
Evaluation Review, Vol. 36, No 3, June 2012
21 Pages Posted: 1 Sep 2012
Date Written: August 30, 2012
Background and objectives: The evaluation of public health law requires reliable accounts of underlying statutes and regulations. States often enact public health-related statutes with nonuniform provisions, and variation in the structure of state legal codes can foster inaccuracy in evaluating the impact of specific categories of law. The optimal format for empirical analysis is a machine-readable 50-state coded data set. This study provides a comprehensive assessment of these resources and related materials with a focus on statutory data sets.
Research design: An exhaustive literature search was followed by a ‘‘pearling’’ or ‘‘snowball’’ approach to assure the most complete inventory of this very diverse and diffuse information. We also interviewed three leading investigators to identify barriers to wider use and availability of coded legal data sets.
Results: We identified relatively few accessible coded statutory data sets, and others that are not available for use outside the group or individual that compiled them. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-funded Public Health Law Research Program has made funding available for the development and dissemination of additional datasets, as well as extensive guidance regarding their use in the evaluation of public health law. Investigators reported serious obstacles to these activities in the past.
Conclusions: Compilation of coded statutory data sets requires a focused investment of resources that has only recently become available. Funders should require grantees to make their work accessible to other investigators so as to assure development of public health law research and evaluation.
Keywords: research methods, public health law
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation