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

Research Associate, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Areas of focus:


Lorella Palazzo, PhD, is a sociologist who focuses on health care. Her specialty is optimizing care delivery and improving access to health services. Her 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. Dr. Palazzo is particularly concerned about health disparities and matching the health workforce with the needs of rural residents and underrepresented minorities. She has also researched alternative modes of healing and how they are being integrated into health care delivery systems to expand care options for patients.

Dr. Palazzo has extensive experience in analyzing clinical data and evaluating health care improvement efforts. At KPWHRI, she uses 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 a health care improvement idea. Dr. Palazzo's evaluations determine how a pilot innovation affected health care costs, care delivery, and patient experiences. She has supported research at KPWHRI on aging and dementia, cancer, cardiovascular health, and safe medication use.

Her future research plans include studying the social and cultural aspects of using health tracking devices to support behavior change. She is also interested in how understanding the psychosocial determinants of health can be used to in practical ways to improve patient care.


  • 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.

  • Health Services and Economics

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

  • Complementary & Integrative Health

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


Recent publications

Groeneweg M, Forrester S, Arnold B, Palazzo L, Zhu W, Yoon P, Scearce T. One-year outcomes of an integrated multiple sclerosis disease management program. J Manag Care Spec Pharm. 2018 May;24(5):458-463. doi: 10.18553/jmcp.2018.24.5.458. PubMed

Tuzzio L, Ludman EJ, Chang E, Palazzo L, Abbott T, Wagner EH, Reid RJ, Design and implementation of a physician coaching pilot to promote value-based referrals to specialty care. Perm J. 2017;21. doi: 10.7812/TPP/16-066. PubMed

Skillman SM, Palazzo L, Hart LG, Keepnews D. The characteristics of registered nurses whose licenses expire: why they leave nursing and implications for retention and re-entry. Nurs Econ. 2010;28(3):181-9. PubMed

Skillman SM, Palazzo L, Keepnews D, Hart LG. Characteristics of registered nurses in rural versus urban areas: implications for strategies to alleviate nursing shortages in the United States. J Rural Health. 2006;22(2):151-7. PubMed

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


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