Delia Scholes, PhD


“One of the most exciting things about working at Kaiser Permanente is to see how many of our women's health research findings translate into clinical care and improve health care for women everywhere.”

Delia  Scholes, PhD

Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute


Delia Scholes, PhD, is an epidemiologist with a special interest in contraception and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). She and colleagues at the University of Washington (UW) led groundbreaking work in 1996 showing that routine screening for chlamydia infection dramatically reduced one of its most serious and common health consequences—pelvic inflammatory disease. These findings impacted the United States Preventive Services Task Force's screening guidelines and prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to include selective chlamydia screening as an outcome measure in evaluating the performance of managed care organizations. Working with Senior Investigator (Emeritus) Robert S. "Tommy" Thompson, MD, Dr. Scholes also conducted a randomized trial to increase providers' adherence to screening guidelines.

More recently, Dr. Scholes has led a series of studies showing that the hormonal contraceptive depo-provera is linked to bone loss in adolescent and young adult women. Dr. Scholes' 2002 analyses included participants who stopped using the contraceptive, and she and her team were able to demonstrate that the bone loss was largely reversible. She presented these and subsequent findings at the World Health Organization's (WHO) technical consultation on hormonal contraception in 2005—when the organization was considering adding a warning related to depro-provera use and bone loss to its contraceptive use guidelines.

Dr. Scholes' findings were an important part of WHO's decision to exclude the warning, given the need to balance the risks of unintended pregnancy with those of possible bone loss in countries with high maternal mortality rates and limited access to effective forms of contraception. Dr. Scholes continued this line of inquiry with a study focused on bone density changes with oral contraceptive use, and most recently a study of the impacts of oral contraceptive use on fracture risk in late peri- and early post-menopausal women.

Dr. Scholes is an affiliate professor in epidemiology at the UW School of Public Health and serves on UW student thesis committees. She also co-directs a T32 training grant from the National Institute on Aging—"Improving Health Care in Aging Women"—which helps postdoctoral graduates build independent research. Dr. Scholes is a peer reviewer for the National Institutes of Health and for more than a dozen medical and public health journals.

Research interests and experience

  • Women's Health

    Bone health and fracture; hormonal contraception;  reproductive health; Chlamydia prevention and screening; STD/HIV prevention; urinary tract infection epidemiology and prevention; urinary incontinence; contraception

  • Vaccines & Infectious Diseases

    Chlamydia prevention and screening; epidemiology  of urinary tract infections; E.coli infection detection; STD/HIV epidemiology and prevention; Hepatitis C prevention and treatment

  • Child & Adolescent Health

    Bone mineral density in adolescents; hormonal contraception in adolescents

Recent publications

de Las Fuentes L, Sung YJ, Sitlani CM, Avery CL, Bartz TM, Keyser C, Evans DS, Li X, Musani SK, Ruiter R, Smith AV, Sun F, Trompet S, Xu H, Arnett DK, Bis JC, Broeckel U, Busch EL, Chen YI, Correa A, Cummings SR, Floyd JS, Ford I, Guo X, Harris TB, Ikram MA, Lange L, Launer LJ, Reiner AP, Schwander K, Smith NL, Sotoodehnia N, Stewart JD, Stott DJ, Stürmer T, Taylor KD, Uitterlinden A, Vasan RS, Wiggins KL, Cupples LA, Gudnason V, Heckbert SR, Jukema JW, Liu Y, Psaty BM, Rao DC, Rotter JI, Stricker B, Wilson JG, Whitsel EA. Genome-wide meta-analysis of variant-by-diuretic interactions as modulators of lipid traits in persons of European and African ancestry. Pharmacogenomics J. 2019 Dec 6. pii: 10.1038/s41397-019-0132-y. doi: 10.1038/s41397-019-0132-y. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Henrikson NB, Blasi P, Dorsey CN, Mettert KD, Nguyen MB, Walsh-Bailey CL, Macuiba JA, Gottlieb LM, Lewis CC. Psychometric and pragmatic properties of social risk assessment tools in clinical settings: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med. Vol 57, Issue 6, Supp 1, p S13-S24. Dec 2019.

Henrikson NB, Blasi PR, Dorsey CN, Mettert KD, Nguyen MB, Walsh-Bailey C, Macuiba J, Gottlieb LM, Lewis CC. Psychometric and pragmatic properties of social risk screening tools: a systematic review. Am J Prev Med. 2019;57(6S1):S13-S24. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2019.07.012. PubMed

Elmore JG, Lee CI. What do the European breast cancer screening guidelines portend for U.S. practice? Ann Intern Med. 2019 Nov 26. pii: 2756146. doi: 10.7326/M19-3104. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed


healthy findings blog


Closing the knowledge gap on prevention in pediatrics

Does routine screening for autism, high cholesterol, and other problems improve kids’ health? We need better research to find out, Dr. Grossman says.

Read it in Healthy Findings.