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How Have States Used Executive Orders to Address Public Health?

Gakh, Maxim JD, MPH; Callahan, Karen MPH; Goodie, Aaliyah BS; Rutkow, Lainie PhD, JD, MPH

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: January/February 2019 - Volume 25 - Issue 1 - p 78–80
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000802
Research Reports: Research Brief Report

Gubernatorial executive orders (GEOs) are important, yet poorly understood, public health tools. We analyzed health-related GEOs nationwide using a modified legal mapping approach. We searched Westlaw's Netscan Executive Orders database for orders issued between 2008 and 2014. Search terms were generated from the Healthy People 2020 Leading Health Indicators (LHIs). GEOs were screened with data abstracted and analyzed on the basis of LHIs, states, years, and characteristics identified in previous literature. We found differences in GEOs issued per LHI. Of the 303 unique orders, they ranged from 32 to 53 issued per year and 0 to 45 issued per state. Most GEOs managed governmental public health functions, required collaboration, and mandated studying problems. Fewer directly addressed health equity, chronic disease, and resource deployment. Gubernatorial authority and political and institutional factors appear relevant to GEO issuance. GEOs offer means to institute public health policies and should be considered by public health professionals.

School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada (Mr Gakh and Mss Callahan and Goodie); and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland (Dr Rutkow).

Correspondence: Maxim Gakh, JD, MPH, School of Community Health Sciences, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Box 453064, 4505 S. Maryland Pkwy, Las Vegas, NV 89154 (

The authors thank their respective institutions.

The authors have no conflicts to disclose.

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