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

Bowles EJ, Tuzzio L, Ross T, Williams AE, Altschuler A, Ritzwoller DP, Nekhlyudov L. The trustworthiness of administrative health plan data in chemotherapy research. Clinical Medicine & Research. 2008 Dec 1;6(3-4):123.

Hebert PL, Sisk JE, Wang JJ, Tuzzio L, Casabianca JM, Chassin MR, Horowitz C, McLaughlin MA. Cost-effectiveness of nurse-led disease management for heart failure in an ethnically diverse urban community. Ann Intern Med. 2008;149(8):540-8. PubMed

Aiello Bowles EJ, Tuzzio L, Wiese CJ, Kirlin B, Greene SM, Clauser SB, Wagner EH. Understanding high-quality cancer care: a summary of expert perspectives. Cancer. 2008;112(4):934-42. Epub 2008 Jan 7. PubMed

Sisk JE, Horowitz CR, Wang JJ, McLaughlin MA, Hebert PL, Tuzzio L. The success of recruiting minorities, women, and elderly into a randomized controlled effectiveness trial. Mt Sinai J Med. 2008;75(1):37-43. PubMed

Aiello EJ, Buist DS, Wagner EH, Tuzzio L, Greene SM, Lamerato LE, Field TS, Herrinton LJ, Haque R, Hart G, Bischoff KJ, Geiger AM. Diffusion of aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer therapy between 1996 and 2003 in the cancer research network. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2008;107(3):397-403. Epub 2007 Mar 28. PubMed

Hebert P, Tuzzio L, Chassin M, Bramley D. Bramley et al. respond. Am J Public Health.

Bramley D, Hebert P, Tuzzio L, Chassin M. Indigenous disparities in health: a cross-country comparison between New Zealand and the United States. Am J Public Health. 2005 May;95(5):844-50. PubMed

Horowitz CR, Tuzzio L, Rojas M, Monteith SA, Sisk JE. How do urban African Americans and Latinos view the influence of diet on hypertension? J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2004 Nov;15(4):631-44. PubMed

 

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By partnering with patients, KPWHRI researchers developed 2 new interventions to boost lung cancer screening.

Research

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KPWHRI researchers uncover obstacles faced by smaller practices when adding CVD risk calculators into primary care.

news

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What defines outstanding primary care leadership?

The MacColl Center’s LEAP project identifies 11 features of effective leadership at primary care practices.

health services & economics

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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.