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Course Level: 201 Intermediate

Faculty: Alexander Waegenaar, Ph.D., and Kelli Komro, Ph.D. Moderated by Michael A. Stoto, Ph.D.

Format: On-demand, streaming presentation with voice-over

Duration: 90 min.

Overview: Recent economic and policy changes are certainly posing shocks to the public health system. These exogenous factors pose an opportunity for two emerging research disciplines: Public Health Services and Systems Research (PHSSR), and Public Health Law Research (PHLR). PHSSR investigates public health at the systems-level, providing insight into how its financing, organization, and structure influence the health of the public, while PHLR studies the effects of laws and legal pratices on population health, with special interest in how law can be a cost-effective tool to improve population health and public health systems. These emerging research disciplines may point to important lessons learned for dealing with systems change.

This webinar will provide a primer on research designs and analytic methods that are used in the context of natural experiments to study public health policy and system changes. This 201-level seminar will address basic research design principles of a natural experiment and suggestions for addressing inherent threats to validity as well as for identifying both individual and population-level measures.

As new challenges arise within the public health system, researchers need to develop relevant evidence to support the protection and promotion of the public’s health. Through this webinar, participants will learn the skills needed to build the body of research on issues in public health systems change.  Participants will also be positioned to submit more rigorous/competitive proposals to future funding opportunities focused on identifying the effects of the current political and economic climate, including a forthcoming funding opportunity from RWJF.


Presentation Slides (PDF)

Background Reading

 Faculty Information:


Alexander Wagenaar Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Health Outcomes & Policy at the University of Florida College of Medicine, and associate director of the National Program Office for Public Health Law Research at Temple University's Beasley School of Law. He has published a book, numerous book chapters, and more than 170 scientific articles on social epidemiology, public health policy, legal evaluations, community intervention trials, alcohol and tobacco studies, violence prevention, traffic safety, and injury control. He has a strong interest in evaluation of public policy changes and community-level interventions, using both randomized trial and controlled time-series research designs and statistical methods. He currently also serves as associate director of the Public Health Law Research Program at the Beasley School of Law at Temple University, the national program office for a $17 million initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. He is a scientific reviewer for two dozen journals, is a member of the editorial boards of Prevention Science and the Journal of Safety Research, and is an assistant editor of the journal Addiction.

In 1999, Dr. Wagenaar received the prestigious Jellinek award for lifetime achievement in research on alcohol. In 2001 he received the Innovator’s Award from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and in 2004 was named by the Institute for Scientific Information as a Highly Cited Researcher, an honor limited to less than one-half of one percent of published scientists worldwide. In 2009 he received the Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Research for the contributions of his three decades of research in advancing the methods and outcomes of prevention research. In 2010 he received an honorary Research Professorship award from the University of Florida Foundation.



kelli.komroKelli Komro, Ph.D., is an epidemiologist specializing in the social determinants of health among children and adolescents. Her research focuses on designing and evaluating community-wide strategies to promote health among children and adolescents. She has been PI or Co-Investigator on multiple group-randomized controlled trials focusing on preventing alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use; violence; and HIV among youth, both in the U.S. and internationally, including trials in Chicago, rural Minnesota, Russia, India, Tanzania, and most recently rural Oklahoma in partnership with the Cherokee Nation.

Dr. Komro’s scholarly research has been recognized both nationally and internationally as is evident from her publication and presentation list, as well as her work in Tanzania, Norway, Japan, and the United Kingdom. As a junior scientist in 2003, she received the Early Career Award from the Society of Prevention Research for her contributions to prevention science. She is a co-recipient of the 11th Annual Douglas S. Leather Award from the journal, Health Education Research: Theory & Practice, conferred on the authors of the article that best reflects the values that the founding editor strove to achieve. In addition to research, she has been recognized for her teaching and mentoring as recipient of the College of Medicine Exemplary Teacher in 2011, Society for Prevention Research mentoring award in 2010, and American Public Health Association’s Student Caucus mentor of the year award in 1999. She is a member of Delta Omega Society, the honorary public health society.

Dr. Komro received her PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Minnesota in 1994. She was a National Institute on Drug Abuse postdoctoral fellow from 1994 - 1995 at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She was an Assistant (1999-2004) and Associate (2004) Professor of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota before moving to the University of Florida in October, 2004. She is now a Professor in the Department of Health Outcomes and Policy in the College of Medicine, Associate Director of the Institute for Child Health Policy, and serves on the graduate faculty for Health Outcomes and Policy, and Epidemiology.