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Institute for Health and Social Policy

Lipitz Public Health Policy Faculty Awards

The Institute for Health and Social Policy is proud to announce the recipients of the Lipitz Public Health Policy Faculty Awards. The Lipitz awards provide financial resources in support of innovative, timely, and applied public health policy projects led by faculty at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Lipitz Public Health Policy Awards have been made possible thanks to a generous gift from the Lipitz Public Health Policy Fund.

2018 – 2019 Cycle

Recipient from the July 30 Application Cycle

Paul A. Locke, MPH, JD, DrPH, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering 

456Proposal Title: Companion Animal Relinquishment as a Public Health Intervention Opportunity to Prevent Housing Loss.

Summary: It is well documented that loss of housing among low income families, and those facing financial crisis, leads to negative health consequences. Accordingly, interventions that prevent loss of housing have the potential to improve public health and welfare. In 2016, we were approached by an attorney at the Baltimore office of Maryland Legal Aid, who asked us to explore the relationship between companion animal relinquishment and loss of housing. Her anecdotal observations led her to the conclusion that low income, and/or financially distressed families and individuals relinquish their companion animals shortly before eviction from their residences. To examine whether her conclusions were evidence-based, we obtained and analyzed data about companion animal relinquishment from the Baltimore Animal Rescue & Care Shelter (BARCs), carried out a literature review, and interviewed experts on housing and its relationship to public health and welfare. Our preliminary analyses support the hypothesis that in many cases, loss of housing leads to companion animal relinquishment, and that the point in time, and location, of relinquishment, creates an opportunity to intervene with legal services to prevent housing loss. We seek funding to (1) carry out a more detailed data analysis of companion animal relinquishment to refine this hypothesis; and (2) actively work with our community partners, Maryland Legal Aid and BARCs, to design intervention strategies that will bring legal tools to individuals in financial distress at the time of relinquishment so that housing loss will be avoided.

2017 – 2018 Cycle

Recipient from the March 30 Application Cycle

Keeve E. Nachman, PhD, MHS, Department of Environmental Health and Engineering

NachmanProposal Title:Partnering with City Government to Advance Urban Agriculture Safety in Baltimore City

Summary: There is increasing awareness that participation in urban agriculture yields a variety of public health benefits, though less attention has been paid to the potential health risks faced by urban agriculture practitioners stemming from contact with chemical contaminants in city soils. While the Baltimore City Office of Sustainability (BOS) has attempted to address this problem by issuing general guidance for soil safety, it lacked contamination data specific to farms and gardens in the City that would support evidence-based exposure avoidance recommendations. Our ongoing work through the Safe Urban Harvests study is currently generating these data. We propose to use findings from the Safe Urban Harvests study to develop evidence-based recommendations to aid the BOS in revising the City’s urban agriculture soil safety policy. We also propose to create and distribute a collection of free, print and electronic informational resources to encourage the safe conduct of urban agriculture in a manner that promotes public health through reduction of soil contamination exposures among urban agriculture practitioners.

Recipient from the November 30 Application Cycle

Rupali J. Limaye, PhD, MPH, MA, Department of International Health

Rupali LimayeProposal Title: Exploring Barriers to Medicaid Recertification and Renewal Among Baltimore Parents and Providers: Is the Time Ripe for a Policy Change?

Summary: Nationally, approximately 25% of children between the ages of 19-35 months are not up-to-date with the recommended immunization schedule. Children enrolled in Medicaid are able to access routine immunization for free; however, children are frequently enrolled in Medicaid for only a short period of time, as data from other states suggest that parents face barriers related to Medicaid recertification and renewal that lead to disenrollment. In collaboration with the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD), this study will explore, through in-depth interviews, parental and patient-level barriers related to Medicaid recertification and renewal and how these relate to immunization uptake. The findings of this study will address an important gap and may generate needed information that can be used by the BCHD to recommend policy change. To creatively display study findings, the results will be translated into vignettes that use infographics and data visualization to humanize the study findings and spur policy action.

Recipients from the July 30 Application Cycle

Beth McGinty, PhD, MS, Department of Health Policy and Management
Lainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management

Beth McGintyLainie RutkowProposal Title: Evaluating State Pill Mill Laws' Effects on Opioid Overdose Deaths

Summary: The proposed project is a partnership between Drs. McGinty and Rutkow and two external organizations: the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) and the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO). This research will involve conducting mixed‐methods case studies examining the implementation and outcomes of “pill mill” laws in Ohio and Tennessee. Through pill mill laws, states regulate pain clinics to prevent rogue clinics (“pill mills”) from issuing opioid prescriptions without medical indication. These laws are designed to reduce opioid overdoses, but have not been rigorously evaluated. The proposed project will begin to fill this gap. Qualitative interviews will be conducted to characterize the implementation and enforcement of pill mill laws in Ohio and Tennessee and identify strategies, barriers, and facilitators that could inform implementation and enforcement in other states. Quantitative synthetic control analyses will also be conducted to evaluate pill mill laws’ effects on opioid overdose deaths. The external practice partners, NAAG and ASTHO, will assist with data collection and interpretation of findings, as well as assist with translating and disseminating findings for their constituent groups.

2016 – 2017 Cycle

Recipient from the March 30 Application Cycle

Meghan Davis, PhD Department of Environmental Health and Engineering

Meghan DavisProposal Title: Exploring the Feasibility and Acceptability of Healthy and Sustainable Diets for U.S. Military Members

Summary: In collaboration with Fort Leonard Wood Army Installation, the Department of Defense Food and Nutrition Subcommittee, and Pulaski County Sheltered Workshop’s Farmers Market and Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), this research will use qualitative methods to evaluate barriers and facilitators to stakeholder participation in U.S. military community local direct farmer-to-consumer food activities, such as farmers’ markets CSA programs. Utilizing key informant interviews, focus groups, and stakeholder input, the research team—particularly postdoctoral fellow Dr. Camille Effler, herself a U.S. Army officer—will create recommendations for framing strategies, and create policy recommendations for military and non-military stakeholder groups. The participatory involvement of key stakeholders will drive development of potential framing strategies and policy recommendations to overcome barriers and leverage facilitators of military community participation in farmers’ markets and CSAs. Findings and strategy recommendations will be communicated to military and non-military stakeholders, and the scientific community. This study will provide a foundation for future research and implementation efforts to support the military food and nutrition environment to improve the health and readiness of service members, and secondarily to enhance current military efforts to foster collaboration and positive relationships between military installations and surrounding communities. 

Recipient from the November 30 Application Cycle

Meghan Bridgid Moran, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior & Society

Proposal Title: Rapid-Response Research to Inform Government Action on Misleading Cigarette Advertising

Summary: Advertising plays a large role in consumers' perceptions of tobacco product risk and related consumer behaviors. As such, the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act prohibits tobacco product advertising that is misleading or that makes unpermitted explicit or implicit reduced-risk claims, and gives FDA extensive authority to regulate tobacco product advertising. Although FDA has taken enforcement action against several tobacco manufacturers (the largest of which being SFNTC, the manufacturer of American Spirit cigarettes) use of descriptors "natural" and "additive-free", our research demonstrates that these companies have an arsenal of additional textual and visual tactics to communicate reduced risk. Despite this, there is no research examining the effects of such tactics on consumer risk perceptions and product purchase behavior. Such research is critical, as FDA relies on specific evidence to guide their regulatory action. Together with their policy partners, the team will enroll 6,000 participants in an online randomized controlled trial to test the effect of three common tactics that could signify reduced harm on consumer risk perceptions and purchase intentions. The evidence generated through this research will directly support future FDA regulatory decisions regarding use of such tactics in cigarette ads. The project team is confident that even with a new Administration, they will be able to disseminate their results in support of policy change, by submitting findings to FDA open dockets, public workshops and meetings.

Recipients from the July 30 Application Cycle

Brendan SalonerBrendan SalonerPhD, Department of Health Policy and Management

Proposal Title: Building an Evidence Base to Improve Treatment of Opioid Use Disorders

Summary: We propose to generate timely and actionable evidence to inform current initiatives led by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to improve treatment for opioid use disorders under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Partnering with Dr. Christopher Jones in the Division of Science Policy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in HHS, the study team will provide the first-ever analysis of how Medicaid expansion under the ACA is affecting use of buprenorphine – a critical medication to treat opioid addiction. To do so, the team will use novel data from IMS Health, which contains anonymized, longitudinal, patient-level information for approximately 75% of patients prescribed opioids in four states (California, Maryland, Florida, and Texas) between 2012 and 2015.  Thus, the team can examine utilization prior to and after the ACA in Medicaid-expanding states (California and Maryland) as well as non-expanding states (Florida and Texas), as well as quantify differences in utilization of buprenorphine across different geographic regions within these states, by linking the data with office locations of buprenorphine-prescribing physicians to characterize differences in areas with high versus low density of prescribing physicians (we have data for both at the level of ZIP codes). Research findings will culminate in briefings to policymaker and academic audiences and peer-reviewed publications, and will yield valuable insights to guide current federal regulatory and policy efforts to increase access to high-quality buprenorphine treatment.

Lainie RutkowLainie Rutkow, JD, PhD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management

Proposal Title: An Analysis of Litigation Arising Out of Emergency Preparedness and Response Activities: Creating and Translating an Evidence Base for Policy-Makers

Summary: As new threats from natural and human-made disasters emerge, policy-makers must routinely draft, revise, and/or retract the policies that govern a response. When these policies are implemented during or immediately after a disaster, lawsuits may arise for varied reasons. The Public Health Law Program (PHLP) within the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention routinely receives requests from state and local policy-makers regarding preparedness-related litigation. These policy-makers have asked for the creation and dissemination of products that will identify and synthesize litigation that has occurred due to emergency preparedness and response activities. Such an evidence base would allow policy-makers to understand which preparedness policies should be revisited and which types of policies and procedures have not been the subject of litigation. Working with colleagues from PHLP, the team will use standard legal epidemiology research methods to: 1) create a data set of federal and state-level litigation in which substantive issues concerning emergency preparedness arose; 2) conduct a content analysis of all identified litigation; and 3) translate and disseminate findings to state and local policy-makers, who are PHLP’s constituents.

2015 – 2016 Cycle

Recipient from the March 30 Application Cycle

Joel GittelsohnJoel Gittelsohn, PhD, Department of International Health

Proposal Title: Understanding the Impact and Unintended Consequences of the Depth of Stock Changes in Baltimore’s Small Food Stores

Summary: By the end of 2017, implementation of the 2014 Farm Bill will significantly increase the depth of stock of healthy foods that retailers are required to carry if they accept SNAP benefits. These changes have the potential to dramatically increase healthy food access in low income communities. Yet, little is known about the challenges and opportunities that small store owners will face in attempting to implement these new requirements. Inadequate attention to these issues could mean small stores going out of business, leading to worsening food access and food insecurity in low income communities. Gittelsohn and his team will use a mixed methods approach to evaluate the readiness and challenges faced by store owners to adapt to these required stocking changes, including in-depth interviews with small store owners, and structured observations of food stocked in their stores to assess compliance with the new law. In collaboration with their partners, the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative and the Center for a Livable Future, they will use this information to generate recommendations and intervention strategies/materials to improve the readiness of small store owners for these changes.

Recipient from the November 30 Application Cycle

David JerniganDavid Jernigan, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior and Society and Director for the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth

Proposal Title: Building Neighborhood Partnerships to Improve Environments and Reduce Alcohol Problems

Summary: Baltimore has nearly double the number of alcohol outlets allowed by state standards and these are disproportionately concentrated in low-income, predominantly African American neighborhoods. The outlets are associated with increased likelihood of violent crime and exacerbate the level of trauma already experienced by these communities. This project would translate this research into public health practice in Baltimore City, partnering with City Councilman Nick Mosby and Strong City Baltimore to educate city officials and neighborhood associations in how to use planning and zoning procedures to increase community input into and control over the practices of alcohol outlets in target neighborhoods across the city. Through implementation of best practice in local regulation of alcohol outlets, the project will assist neighborhoods to identify, document and either modify the practices of or shut down problematic outlets, which should lead to decreased violence and improved outcomes for youth in these neighborhoods.

Recipients from the July 30 Application Cycle

Beth McGintyBeth McGinty, PhD, Department of Health Policy and Management

Proposal Title: Developing Evidence-Based Policy to Address Addiction to Drug-Related Violence in Maryland

Summary: In this proposal, McGinty will partner with Maryland Delegate Dan Morhaim, MD, to implement a conference and post-conference legislation development process designed to create evidence-based policy proposals to address addiction and drug-related violence in Maryland. Legislative proposal(s) resulting from this process in upcoming sessions of the Maryland General Assembly will be introduced. In addition, McGinty and Delegate Morhaim will conduct a mixed-methods evaluation of the research-policy translation process used. The results of this evaluation will contribute to the scholarly literature on the translation of research evidence into policy and directly inform future research translation efforts.

Click to learn more about the 2015 Harm Reduction Meeting and Policy Recommendations.

Joanna CohenJoanna Cohen, PhD, Department of Health, Behavior & Society and Director, Institute for Global Tobacco Control

Proposal Title: Banning Menthol-Flavored Cigarettes: How do Tobacco Companies Respond?

Summary: In order to reduce the uptake of smoking and the consequent tobacco-caused death and disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned flavored cigarettes, excluding menthol. The FDA is currently considering banning menthol, too. No jurisdiction in the U.S. has banned menthol-flavored cigarettes, and thus the response to such a ban is unknown. However, two provinces in Canada have recently banned menthol cigarettes, and thus these jurisdictions provide a real-life laboratory to examine the impacts of such a ban. This applied public health policy project will use an established, systematic pack-purchasing protocol to (1) examine the extent of compliance with the policy; and (2) to explore and document potential unintended consequences of the policy. Investigators are partnering with a third-sector organization active in tobacco-control policy to vigorously inform the regulatory agenda.