The Promise (and Pitfalls) of Public Health Policy Surveillance
Journal of Health Politics Policy and Law, Forthcoming
Posted: 27 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 12, 2016
Though public health policy surveillance is an integral tool in correlating the law to scientifically based public health law studies, drawing accurate legal conclusions from collected data can be challenging. Data may be poor quality, inaccessible to law and policy makers, or inapplicable to other jurisdictions over time and place. As Burris et. al. advocate, modern, sophisticated, and interactive data collection systems would render more precise legal analysis tied to public health improvements. Although policy surveillance is promising, public health officials, health care providers, attorneys, and researchers must be skilled and prepared to successfully navigate and resolve potential pitfalls for its benefits to be fully realized. Among the significant challenges related to policy surveillance are: 1) timing, 2) agenda setting, 3) predictable misuse, and 4) politics inherent in a federalist public health legal infrastructure. As public health data infrastructure is developed, better legal approaches must be simultaneously crafted to achieve optimal public health outcomes.
Keywords: Public health law; policy, research; assessment
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