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

Green BB, Meenan RT. Colorectal cancer screening: the costs and benefits of getting to 80% in every community. Cancer. 2020 Jul 20. doi: 10.1002/cncr.32990. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Flannery B, Meece JK, Williams JV, Martin ET, Gaglani M, Jackson ML, Talbot HK. Systematic testing for influenza and COVID-19 among patients with respiratory illness. Clin Infect Dis. 2020 Jul 20:ciaa1023. doi: 10.1093/cid/ciaa1023. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Hagenaars SP, Coleman JRI, Choi SW, Gaspar H, Adams MJ, Howard DM, Hodgson K, Traylor M, Air TM, Andlauer TFM, Arolt V, Baune BT, Binder EB, Blackwood DHR, Boomsma DI, Campbell A, Cearns M, Czamara D, Dannlowski U, Domschke K, de Geus EJC, Hamilton SP, Hayward C, Hickie IB, Hottenga JJ, Ising M, Jones I, Jones L, Kutalik Z, Lucae S, Martin NG, Milaneschi Y, Mueller-Myhsok B, Owen MJ, Padmanabhan S, Penninx BWJH, Pistis G, Porteous DJ, Preisig M, Ripke S, Shyn SI, Sullivan PF, Whitfield JB, Wray NR, McIntosh AM, Deary IJ, Breen G, Lewis CM. Genetic comorbidity between major depression and cardio-metabolic traits, stratified by age at onset of major depression. Am J Med Genet B Neuropsychiatr Genet. 2020 Jul 18. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.b.32807. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Ghai NR, Jensen CD, Merchant SA, Schottinger JE, Lee JK, Chubak J, Kamineni A, Halm EA, Skinner CS, Haas JS, Green BB, Cannizarro NT, Schneider JL, Corley DA. Primary care provider beliefs and recommendations about colorectal cancer screening in four healthcare systems. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2020 Jul 15:canprevres.0109.2020. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-20-0109. [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.