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Health Law Research



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

You can search the library catalog, Hollis, for articles and texts together in one place. Many databases used for primary law research can also 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.  To learn more about primary sources and how to use them visit:

Statutes & Legislation

Comparing State Law

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:

For 50 State Surveys on Health Law visit:

Legislative History

Legislative intent of a federal or state statute may be discerned using earlier versions of the law or supporting testimony and material.  To locate these resources you may consult a legislative history such as the following:

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:

Administrative Materials accessible on both Westlaw and Lexis:

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

Some agencies can also decide cases related to particular regulations. These agency decisions are typically not included in most 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 can be extremely helpful when working on health law related issues as a new practitioner.

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:

Non Profits and NGOs

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:

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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.