Infographic: Defining Legal Epidemiology for Practice

by Colleen Barbero, Lindsay K. Cloud, Lance Gable, Siobhan Gilchrist, Bethany Saxon


Law is indispensable to public health management and practice. The field of legal epidemiology has emerged to provide public health law and non-lawyer professionals with the research tools to conduct timely and rigorous evaluations of the impact of law and legal practices on health. The field also helps draw attention to the need for more training and practical guidance on the legal functions of non-lawyers to help them function effectively within the public health system.

Legal epidemiology is the scientific study of and deployment of law as a factor in the cause, distribution, and prevention of disease and injury in a population. It is the subject of the most recent special supplement in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

The graphic below defines the field and its purpose, describes its value to various stakeholders, and offers six steps to apply legal epidemiology theory and methods in research and practice.

Download a PDF of this infographic: Defining Legal Epidemiology for Practice

What Is Legal Epidemiology?

Read Advancing Legal Epidemiology, a special supplement issue of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

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Colleen Barbero

Colleen Barbero is a trained policy scientist and program evaluator. She is currently working as a Health Scientist on the Applied Research and Translation Team in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In this role she has studied policy and law aimed at improving chronic disease prevention and management. Dr. Barbero is also serving as a Co-chair of the Community Health Worker Work Group at CDC, and her research interests include promoting health equity and stakeholder engagement in decision making. Prior to working for CDC, Dr. Barbero served as a statistical data analyst at the Center for Public Health Systems Science in the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her PhD in Public Policy Analysis from Saint Louis University, where she concentrated on community and urban development policy.

Lindsay K. Cloud

Lindsay K. Cloud is the director of the Policy Surveillance Program at the Center for Public Health Law Research (CPHLR) at Temple University Beasley School of Law. Her work focuses on the intersection of law and public health. She has overseen the creation of large-scale public health law research projects using legal epidemiology to scientifically analyze and track state, local, and international policies across various public health law domains, including the regulation of reproductive rights, affordable housing, minimum wage, earned income tax credit, civil commitment, and prior authorization policies for pediatric ADHD medications. In addition to managing the creation of CPHLR projects, Lindsay trains government agencies, policymakers, researchers, and other external organizations on the tools and transdisciplinary methods used in public health law research with an aim towards applying law as an intervention to influence better health, well-being, and equity. She serves as an adjunct professor at Temple University Beasley School of Law teaching courses in public health law and empirical legal research methods.

Lance Gable

Lance Gable is an associate professor of law at Wayne State University Law School. An internationally known expert on public health law and bioethics, Gable served as interim dean of Wayne Law from September 2016 to August 2017. A member of the Law School faculty since 2006, he also served as associate dean from June 2014 until his appointment as interim dean in 2016. Prior to that, he was interim associate dean since June 2013. He teaches courses on Public Health Law, Bioethics and the Law, Torts and other health law subjects. His research addresses the overlap among law, policy, ethics, health and science. He has published journal articles on a diverse array of topics, including public health law, ethics and policy; international human rights; bioterrorism and emergency preparedness; mental health; research ethics; and information privacy. He also is co-editor and co-author respectively of two books: Research with High Risk Populations: Balancing Science, Ethics and the Law and Legal Aspects of HIV/AIDS: A Guide for Policy and Law Reform.

Siobhan Gilchrist

Siobhan Gilchrist, JD, MPH, IHRC Inc., has been providing legal epidemiology and policy research and translation expertise to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention’s Applied Research and Translation Team since 2010. She helped expand DHDSP’s policy research portfolio from a single policy tracking database to a comprehensive set of products, including a novel method to synthesize, assess and translate the evidence base for public health policies. She conducts state and local law surveillance to analyze trends in law reflecting uptake of evidence-informed practices and policies. She also works on policy implementation and evaluation studies to understand stakeholder barriers and facilitators to implementing state law and the associated health impact of state laws. Her policy areas of focus include community health worker, nurse practitioner and pharmacist scope of practice, stroke systems of care, and other policy issues related to cardiovascular health. She is licensed to practice law in Georgia, received her law degree from Georgia State University School of Law, and her MPH from Emory University School of Public Health. As an attorney she represented clients for a small firm focused on environmental, zoning and private property interests and provided pro bono representation to victims of domestic violence and other clients in civil proceedings. She also has extensive experience working in public health as an epidemiologist for the Georgia Division of Public Health, the DeKalb County Board of Health, as well as at CDC’s former Epidemiology Program Office.

Bethany Saxon

Bethany Saxon manages all external communication and dissemination activities for the Center for Public Health Law Research and its programs. Ms. Saxon joined the Center in 2011 as the Director of Communications for the RWJF Public Health Law Research Program. Before coming to Temple, Ms. Saxon served as a writer/editor for ICF International, supporting the publications and information resources management contract for the Administration on Developmental Disabilities (ADD), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this position, she managed production for all ADD publications, managed a rebranding initiative and developed content for the agency’s website. She has also previously worked for the International Partnership for Microbicides, a nonprofit product development partnership dedicated to developing a drug to prevent HIV in women. There she supported all communications efforts, both electronically and through traditional print media, across more than 15 research centers and three offices in Africa, Europe and the United States. Throughout her career, Ms. Saxon’s focus has been on external relations ranging from press relations to publication production for online and print, and in-house communications for nonprofit organizations and other institutions working for the public good. Ms. Saxon graduated from Elon University in North Carolina with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She has a master’s degree in Communications Management from Temple University.