Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Health Law Research

Guide to researching health law, including topics such as: administration, bioethics, medicare/medicaid, mental health, pandemic response, policy, and public health.

Home

Welcome

This guide provides an overview of health law research strategies. It will highlight some of the key secondary and primary resources in these areas. It will also provide current awareness sources. To learn more about performing legal research generally, please visit:

Health law has become a distinct field in its own right. However, researchers may also wish to explore:  Bioethics, Health Care Policy & Reform, Medical Device Law & Industry, Medical Malpractice, Medicare/Medicaid, Pharmaceutical Law & Industry, and Public Health. For a brief summary of health law please visit:

Secondary Sources

Using Secondary Sources

Secondary sources are a great place to begin your research.  To learn more about secondary sources and how to use them, visit the following guide:

Encyclopedias & American Law Reports

Legal encyclopedias contain brief, broad summaries of legal topics. They provide introductions to legal topics and explain relevant terms of art. State encyclopedias can also be found on Westlaw and Lexis.

The American Law Reports contains in-depth articles on narrow topics of the law.  Use the following Indices to access the ALR.  Note: Lexis also has some ALR materials but Westlaw's are more complete.

Health Law Treatises

There are many health law treatises within our collection.  Users can search in Hollis  for the most up-to-date legal treatises.

Books - Mental Health

Legal and Medical Journals

In addition to Hollis, mentioned above, many databases can be used for secondary source research:

In addition to traditional law reviews and journals many advocacy organizations also publish:

Primary Sources

Using Primary Sources

Primary authority is  "authority that issues directly from a law-making body." Authority, Black's Law Dictionary (11th ed. 2019).  To learn more about primary sources and how to use them visit:

Statutes & Legislation

50 State Surveys are tools used to compare the law across multiple states.  To learn more about using and accessing 50 State Surveys see our guide on:

Legislative History

Discover legislative intent of a statute using earlier versions of the law supporting material. To locate resources for federal laws consult the following:

This may help when considering the impact of Federal and State statutes related to health. Consider searching for earlier versions of the law, supporting testimony, and additional documentation. If available, consider consulting published legislative history.

If there is no existing legislative history, researchers may need to consult congressional materials directly.

Regulatory & Administrative Law

Regulations comprise a substantial portion of primary sources in health law research. Statutes may enable change in health policy (such as the Affordable Care Act) and create specific health programs (such as Medicare and Medicaid). Yet, the way those policies and programs are administered relies primarily on regulation.

If you are unfamiliar with how to conduct regulatory research, please visit:

The regulatory process can be complex, especially in the field of health care. Multiple agencies can be involved in promulgating regulations, further complicating the process. This visual overview can be helpful:

It may be easiest to start with a regulation by number or agency by name. Secondary sources such as books, scholarly articles, or advocacy communications can help you get started.

Government agencies websites provide information about proposed regulations and track them through the regulatory process.

Administrative Materials are also accessible on both Westlaw and Lexis:

Agency websites also contain regulations and resources that can aid in conducting research:

Case Law

Most case law decided in state and federal courts is available through Westlaw and Lexis:

Some agencies can also decide cases related to particular regulations. These agency decisions may not be included in general case law databases. Decisions can often be accessed through agency websites:

Practice Materials

Using Practice Materials

Practitioners often write the most helpful resources in the field of health law. Although they have similarities to treatises, they are directed at lawyers in practice. They may contain checklists and forms not available in a traditional treatise.

Practitioner Materials

Handbooks and guides are helpful when working on health law issues as a new practitioner.

Current Awareness Sources

Advocacy Resources

News Sources

Keeping up-to-date with new developments in the field of health law will enhance research projects. Recent headlines in the field may also inspire researchers still looking for a paper topic. Use these links to find news sources related to health law:

Legal Blogs have become an increasingly rich source of information and legal news.  Below are two indices to health law blogs:

Organizations

Non Profits and NGOs

The following organizations may be particularly useful to researchers:

Kaiser Family Foundation

Kaiser Health News includes a morning briefing and updates via email or RSS feed:

Loading ...

Community Catalyst

The latest posts from their feed are included below:

Loading ...

Interdisciplinary Materials

Health & Medical Field Resources

Health law is an interdisciplinary area. You may benefit from accessing health and biomedical resources.  

For unfamiliar terms and acronyms consult the following:

There are several health and medical databases that may be helpful in your research:

Additional Resources

Health law also touches on many different research areas.  These additional research guides contain important content related to health law:

Getting Help

Contact Us!

  Ask Us! Submit a question or search our knowledge base.

Chat with us! Chat  with a librarian (HLS only)

Email: research@law.harvard.edu

 Contact Historical & Special Collections at specialc@law.harvard.edu

 Meet with Us  Schedule an online consult with a Librarian

Hours  Library Hours

Classes View Training Calendar or Request an Insta-Class

 Text Ask a Librarian, 617-702-2728

 

CC License

CC License

Creative Commons License

This guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

You may reproduce any part of it for noncommercial purposes as long as credit is included and it is shared in the same manner.