How Have States Used Executive Orders to Address Public Health?

Maxim Gakh, Karen Callahan, Aaliyah Goodie, Lainie Rutkow

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-80
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Public Health Management and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • executive orders
  • governors
  • public health law
  • public health policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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