Recognition January 2016

GHRI welcomes Assistant Investigator Dr. Pedja Klasnja

Predrag “Pedja” Klasnja, PhD, recently joined the Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) faculty as an assistant investigator. An expert in mobile health information technology, Dr. Klasnja was previously an assistant professor in the University of Michigan (UM)’s School of Information and Department of Health Behavior and Health Education. His research focuses on how technology can help people effectively manage health behaviors, both on their own and in collaboration with their health care providers. 

Dr. Klasnja designs and evaluates new technologies that support health-promoting behaviors such as physical activity and healthy diet. Through a user-centered design process, he aims to build health technologies that people can easily integrate into their lives. On the evaluation side, he combines qualitative and quantitative methods to understand whether a new technology works—and why or why not.

A recent example of his work is a mobile-phone intervention called HeartSteps that sends messages encouraging the user to engage in physical activity. HeartSteps is unique in part because it is designed to increase user engagement and decrease barriers to physical activity by featuring messages that are easy to act on—and tailoring those messages to the user’s current context (location, time of day, weather, day of the week). Dr. Klasnja recently received a $1.9 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to evaluate HeartSteps in a pilot study with cardiac patients who are trying to sustain physical activity in their day-to-day lives after completing rehab.

Dr. Klasnja received his PhD in Information Science from the University of Washington (UW). Before teaching at UM, he completed a National Library of Medicine Fellowship in Biomedical and Health Informatics at the UW School of Medicine.

NIH workshop features Dr. Grossman as expert panelist

In December, GHRI Senior Investigator David Grossman, MD, MPH, served as a panel member for a Pathways to Prevention (P2P) workshop exploring Total Worker Health®, a new approach to promoting worker health that integrates health promotion and occupational safety. Dr. Grossman, who is also Group Health’s medical director for population health and purchaser strategy, was one of five panelists selected to review existing evidence and develop recommendations for integrated approaches that improve worker health. Slated for publication in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the panel’s draft report is open for public comment until January 25.

The National Institutes of Health Office of Disease Prevention hosts P2P workshops to address topics for which there isn’t sufficient research to produce a report based on published literature. Held in Bethesda, Md., the P2P workshop on Total Worker Health was co-sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Dr. Grossman was nominated to serve as a workshop panelist based on his expertise in preventive medicine.

Dr. Lozano speaks at national symposium on childhood chronic illness care

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH, Group Health’s associate medical director of research and translation and a GHRI senior investigator, was in Washington, DC, December 7–8 for the National Symposium on Systemic Improvements in the Care of Children with Complex Health Care Needs. Dr. Lozano, who is also a Group Health pediatrician, was one of six speakers selected to present to an invitational audience of about 100 thought leaders who gathered to discuss strategies to improve the care of children with chronic and complex conditions. The symposium was sponsored by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Forum on Promoting Children’s Cognitive, Affective, and Behavioral Health.

Dr. Lozano presented insights from her work with the Lucille Packard Foundation to develop a new conceptual model for managing chronic illness as children grow up. Her talk, “’You can’t put a baby monitor on a teenager’ and other self-management lessons about pediatric chronic illness” is available via webcast (see “Session 4: Supporting Self Management”).