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Use Cases

The Harvard Catalyst Policy Atlas contains data on a variety of topics, including health laws and bills, social and environmental determinants of health,  health disparities, and many more.  Below are a few examples of how other researchers have used the data included in the Policy Atlas to conduct their policy-relevant research.

Study examined whether state laws regulating low nutrient, high energy-dense foods and beverages sold outside of the reimbursable school meals program are associated with children’s weight status.

Hennessy E, Oh A, Agurs Collins T, Chriqui JF, Mâsse LC, Moser RP, Perna F. State level school competitive food and beverage laws are associated with children’s weight status. Journal of school health. 2014 Sep;84(9):609-16.

Database: Classification of Laws Associated with School Students (CLASS) 

Study estimated excess COVID-19 cases and deaths after states reopening compared with trends before reopening for the states with an evidence-based reopening strategy and the states with reopening indoor dining rooms before implementing a statewide mask mandate.

Kaufman BG, Whitaker R, Mahendraratnam N, Smith VA, McClellan MB. Comparing associations of state reopening strategies with COVID-19 burden. Journal of general internal medicine. 2020 Oct 6:1-8.

Database: Boston University COVID-19 US State Policy merged with Daily COVID-19 New York Times database and American Community Survey (ACS)

Study compared changes in health coverage and access to care among immigrants in California before and after implementation of the Affordable Care Act.

Porteny T, Ponce N, Sommers BD. Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act: Changes in Coverage and Access to Care by Documentation Status. Journal of immigrant and minority health. 2020 Nov 25:1-9.

Database: California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)

Study described types of beverages (i.e., sugar-sweetened, low-calorie) purchased in the nation’s largest chain restaurants among a nationally representative sample of US households. These findings may inform nutrition policy by highlighting disparities in consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and opportunities for policy changes aimed at reducing these disparities.

Moran AJ, Subramanian SV, Rimm EB, Bleich SN. Characteristics Associated with Household Purchases of Sugar‐Sweetened Beverages in US Restaurants. Obesity. 2019 Feb;27(2):339-48.

Database: US Department of Agriculture National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey

Study described the landscape of adoption of U.S. human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine-related state policies’ in the 5-year period after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration licensed the HPV vaccine in 2006.

Laugesen MJ, Mistry R, Carameli KA, Ribisl KM, Needleman J, Bastani R. Early policy responses to the human papillomavirus vaccine in the United States, 2006–2010. Journal of adolescent health. 2014 Nov 1;55(5):659-64.

Database: National Conference of State Legislatures


Useful Tools & Resources for Policy Research

Resources for Policy Research (Harvard Catalyst): a one-page document that describes what health policy research is, provides relevant examples, and lists some helpful resources.

Health Policy Analysis and Evidence (CDC): an overview of policy process, economic and policy research, and tools for policy translation.

Policy Evaluation Webinar (National Collaboration on Childhood Obesity Research): a four-part seminar series on conducing policy evaluation and effective translation of results.

Research Tools (Center for Health Economics and Policy, Wash U): a set of tools for researchers to access, utilize, and analyze policy data.

Theory & Methods (Center for Public Health Law Research): a comprehensive resource on methodology and training in legal epidemiology.

Introduction to Legal Mapping (ChangeLab Solutions): an introduction to legal mapping, a method to determine what laws exist on a certain topic, collect and summarize policy data, and ultimately estimate the effects of these policies on health outcomes.

The Methods Centers at RAND: a comprehensive resource on research methodologies for policy research, including qualitative and mixed methods, decision making, causal inference, decision making and data science and gaming approaches.