Policy Surveillance: A Vital Public Health Practice Comes of Age

In a new article published today in the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Scott Burris, Laura Hitchcock, Jennifer Ibrahim, Matthew Penn and Tara Ramanathan make the case for the practice of policy surveillance to improve public health.

Though widely used, legal “treatments” for public health promotion and protection are too often applied to large populations without timely evaluation or even systematic monitoring. When we implement programmatic interventions in health, we demand evaluation. We should demand no less for legal interventions.

Policy surveillance can help end the inconsistent treatment law receives in public health research and practice. Policy surveillance is the systematic, scientific collection and coding of important laws of public health significance.

Beyond the necessary act of evaluation, policy surveillance meets many other important needs: It creates data suitable for use in rigorous evaluation studies, addresses the chronic lack of readily accessible, nonpartisan information about the status and trends In health legislation and policy, and provides the opportunity to build policy capacity in the public health workforce.

The authors trace legal mapping and its growing importance as it emerged simultaneously over the past 50 years in both traditional legal practice and evaluation research. The article discusses the convergence of the fields to create policy surveillance, and identify future challenges and opportunities.

Read online at the Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law.

Learn more about policy surveillance and Burris’s program at LawAtlas.org.

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About Center for Public Health Law Research

The Center for Public Health Law Research at Temple University (CPHLR) supports the widespread adoption of scientific tools and methods for mapping and evaluating the impact of law on health. The Center develops and teaches public health law research and legal epidemiology methods, researches laws and policies that improve health and equity, and communicates and disseminates evidence to support innovation.

One thought on “Policy Surveillance: A Vital Public Health Practice Comes of Age

  1. Thankyou for the information but I still need more information about policy surveillance as it’s not clear to me. It would be helpful if you provide some detailed source about it.

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