Lorella Palazzo, PhD

“I work on health care system improvements so patients, doctors, and clinical staff all have the best possible experience.”

Lorella Palazzo, PhD

Collaborative Scientist, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute


Lorella Palazzo, PhD, is a sociologist who specializes in optimizing care delivery and improving access to health services. She has extensive experience in analyzing clinical data and evaluating health care improvement efforts. At Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), she has used this expertise to assess the progress and results of pilot projects supported by the Group Health Foundation Partnership for Innovation. In these projects, KPWHRI researchers and Kaiser Permanente Washington clinicians work together to test innovative health care improvement ideas. Dr. Palazzo's evaluations have determined how a pilot innovation affected health care costs, care delivery, and patient experiences. With the MacColl Center for Health Care Innovation, she also has evaluated efforts to reduce medical overuse. Dr. Palazzo has supported research at KPWHRI on aging and dementia, cancer, cardiovascular health, mental health, and safe medication use. She plans to continue and expand her recent work in implementation science and cancer screening. Inspired by her background as a sociologist, Dr. Palazzo is also interested in how social scientists can best collaborate with other health researchers to improve health care.

Dr. Palazzo’s previous work includes evaluating educational programs to make sure that nurses and medical assistants get up-to-date training that reflects current health care demands. She has studied the best ways to attract and retain nurses and other clinical personnel to underserved areas. She brings this experience to current research that particularly focuses on health disparities and matching the health workforce with the needs of rural residents and underrepresented minorities. Dr. Palazzo has also researched alternative modes of healing and how they are being integrated into health care delivery systems to expand care options for patients.


  • Implementation science

    Health information technologies; sustainability and diffusion of innovations; guideline implementation; organizational processes

  • Complementary & Integrative Health

    Bringing evidence-based new approaches to clinical practice, exploring the sociocultural context for personal health tracking and behavior change

  • Cancer screening

    Studying access to cancer screening; patient-, provider- and system-level determinants of screening; organization and outcomes of cancer screening services

  • Health Services & Economics

    Assessing cost and effectiveness of quality improvement projects; using quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze delivery system innovations; optimizing the health care workforce

  • Evaluation Science

    Using research methods to measure the effectiveness of health services and health professional training programs

  • Medical Sociology ​​​​​​​

    Studying health care organizations and institutions; social factors in health, illness, and medical care; health care system access and health disparities

Recent publications

Grumbach K, Hart LG, Mertz E, Coffman J, Palazzo L. Who is caring for the underserved? a comparison of primary care physicians and nonphysician clinicians in California and Washington. Ann Fam Med. 2003;1(2):97-104. PubMed

Larson EH, Palazzo L, Berkowitz B, Pirani MJ, Hart LG. The contribution of nurse practitioners and physician assistants to generalist care in Washington state. Health Serv Res. 2003 Aug;38(4):1033-50.

Palazzo L, Guest A, Almgren G. Economic distress and cause-of-death patterns for black and non-black men in Chicago: reconsidering the relevance of classic epidemiological transition theory. Soc Biol. 2003;50(1-2):102-26. PubMed


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