In a recent project, Professor Gakh and colleagues examined how governors across the U.S. exercise their executive power to address public health, specifically through issuing Gubernatorial Executive Orders (GEOs). His research team conducted the study because the use of GEOs as tools of public health law and policy has not been sufficiently explored. The empirical study examined over 300 GEOs, dealing with a range of public health concerns, over a recent seven-year period.
The research found that, especially in some states, reliance on GEOs in the area of public health policy is quite widespread. Issuing GEOs appears particularly common to direct the action of government officials in different ways and to require studies of underlying health problems. However, despite the promise of GEOs, they may be underutilized to address some of today’s most pressing health concerns, including chronic disease and health equity. GEOs may also be especially important for fostering efforts at cross-sector collaboration, which is so critical to improving the social factors that affect health.