Research has shown that laws can significantly impact population health and health equity. Most of this research has focused on the impact of statutes and regulations, but in the U.S. legal system, with its well-entrenched tradition of judicial review, judges wield enormous authority over critical health determinants, including housing stability, socio-economic position (as impacted by education and income), access to health care, structural racism and the quality of the environment.
The Institute for Health Equity and Social Justice Research has collaborated with the Northeastern University School of Law’s Center for Health Policy and Law on Salus Populi: Educating the Judiciary about the Social Determinants of Health. This project is supported by Alisa Lincoln (IHESJR director) serving as faculty director and Alex Alden (Sociology doctoral student), Zoe Harris (MPH graduate student), and Jenna Bourassa (Health Equity Intern) as research assistants.
This project seeks to provide guidance and training to judges on the impact of the law on the social determinants of health. To help inform their work, the project team convened an advisory board of 15 individuals from varied fields including judges, public health experts, and scholars. The advisory board can be found here and more information on the project can be found on their website, https://www.saluspopulisdoh.com/.