Saint Louis University Journal of Health Law & Policy

Document Type



Public health law has been a growing field over the last few decades. From the early days of its initial recognition as an academic and professional field to its more recent texts and treatises, public health law is continuing to define itself. To that end, Burris et al. recently published two works describing a transdisciplinary model of public health law and five essential services of public health law.

This article examines how the inclusion of social work in the model can be instrumental in forming better public health laws. The intentional inclusion of social work collaborators would supplement legal and public health expertise with expertise to meaningfully engage the community in law and policy development, implementation, and enforcement. Three areas specifically can be impacted by this engagement: (1) giving the community a voice in designing public health interventions in a way that increases buy-in; (2) using community organizing expertise to assist in getting evidence-based legal interventions with realistic enforcement mechanisms enacted into law at the local, state, or federal level; and (3) assisting in data collection for policy surveillance components by bringing in on-the-ground experts.