Leah Tuzzio, MPH

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“I am a qualitative researcher who uses human-centered design principles to improve people’s care experience.”

Leah Tuzzio, MPH

Senior Research Associate, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Leah.Tuzzio@kp.org
206-287-2109

Biography

At the core of Leah Tuzzio’s work is a passion for stakeholder engagement and applying human-centered design methods to pragmatic research, with a goal of uncovering real-world solutions to common health and care issues. She contributes to a wide range of quality-improvement and health care design research focused on advancing whole-person health. She has particular interest in social health disparities research, and reducing social isolation, financial hardship, and other social risks that impact people’s health and well-being.

At Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), Ms. Tuzzio is a scientific collaborator on many teams. She focuses on projects related to social determinants of health, patient-centered care, and quality improvement research on topics related to cancer, chronic illnesses, and dementia.

Some of Ms. Tuzzio’s projects that use qualitative design research methods include:

  • Using qualitative and human-centered design methods — such as card-sorting and storyboarding — to explore the care experiences of people living with medical, behavioral, and social health conditions
  • Facilitating co-design workshops with people at risk for lung cancer to develop interventions to help people adhere to lung cancer screening
  • Interviewing multi-disciplinary stakeholders, using ethnographic analyses, and evaluating randomized trials to illuminate the impact of price data on behavior and explore ways to improve how people navigate the costs of care
  • Identifying the roles and functions of community health workers embedded in primary care by using personas developed from focus groups and card-sorting of ideas from a literature synthesis
  • Through interviews and rapid qualitative analysis, exploring women’s preferences for getting genetic testing and counseling for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

Among other highlights from her tenure with KPWHRI:

  • From 2005 to 2013, Ms. Tuzzio was the project director for the National Cancer Institute-funded Cancer Research Network, working closely with Edward Wagner, MD, MPH, to manage a consortium of research centers conducting over 40 cancer research studies within integrated delivery systems.
  • In 2018 and 2020, she achieved certifications in human-centered design by Kaiser Permanente’s Innovation Center.
  • Ms. Tuzzio is a steering committee member of the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Equity and Action Team, also called HEAT. In addition, she co-leads the Health Care Systems Research Network (HCSRN) Patient Engagement in Research Scientific Interest Group. She is also a Community Advisory Board member of the University of Washington’s Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC).

Before joining KPWHRI (formerly known as Group Health Research Institute) in 2005, Ms. Tuzzio was a senior project manager overseeing large health disparities research studies in New York City. Certified as a Six Sigma green belt in quality improvement, she also collaborated with a team to reduce lost Medicare claims revenue in a health care system.

Outside of work, Ms. Tuzzio spends time with her family doing building projects and outdoor activities that always include their dog, Rutabaga. She also enjoys volunteering with various community-based organizations that focus on homelessness, food insecurity, public land, and education.

Research interests and experience

Recent publications

Onega T, Cook A, Kirlin B, Shi X, Alford-Teaster J, Tuzzio L, Buist DS. The influence of travel time on breast cancer characteristics, receipt of primary therapy, and surveillance mammography. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2011 Aug;129(1):269-75. Epub 2011 May 7. PubMed

Clauser SB, Wagner EH, Aiello Bowles EJ, Tuzzio L, Greene SM. Improving modern cancer care through information technology. Am J Prev Med. 2011;40(5 Suppl 2):S198-207. PubMed

Wagner EH, Aiello Bowles EJ, Tuzzio L, Wiese CJ, Kirlin B, Greene SM, Clauser SB. The quality of cancer patient experience: perspectives of patients, family members, providers, and experts. Qual Saf Health Care. 2010 Dec;19(6):484-9.

Chubak J, Hsu C, Tuzzio L, Kirlin B, Nekhlyudov L. C-a4-01: providing care for cancer survivors in integrated delivery systems: an assessment of current practices and future opportunities. Clin Med Res. 2010;8(3-4):182.

Onega T, Cook A, Kirlin B, Buist D, Tuzzio L. PS3-16: the influence of travel time on breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Clin Med Res. 2010;8(3-4):196. PubMed

Horner K, Wagner E, Bowles EA, Kirlin B, Tuzzio L. PS3-29: the benefits of stakeholder involvement in research. Clin Med Res. 2010;8(3-4):201.

Lin CP, Black RA, Laplante J, Keppel GA, Tuzzio L, Berg AO, Whitener RJ, Buchwald DS, Baldwin LM, Fishman PA, Greene SM, Gennari JH, Tarczy-Hornoch P, Stephens KA. Facilitating health data sharing across diverse practices and communities. AMIA Jt Summits Transl Sci Proc. 2010 Mar 1;2010:16-20. PubMed

Aiello Bowles EJ, Tuzzio L, Ritzwoller DP, Williams AE, Ross T, Wagner EH, Neslund-Dudas C, Altschuler A, Quinn V, Hornbrook M, Nekhlyudov L. Accuracy and complexities of using automated clinical data for capturing chemotherapy administrations: implications for future research. Med Care. 2009;47(10):1091-7. Epub 2009 Jul 30. PubMed

 

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Community health workers can help make the difference for patients

Leah Tuzzio, MPH, and colleagues describe an underutilized role that can help primary care become truly patient-centered.