Behavior Change

“We want to empower people to take control of their health. Ultimately, our research on behavior change aims to prevent disease, not just treat it.”

Jennifer McClure, PhD, 
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Director of Research, Faculty, & Development

Research overview

From decisions about diet and exercise to medication use and smoking, your behavior influences your health. Indeed, if you’re like most people, your health depends more on what you do every day than on what your health care provider can do for you.

But changing behavior can be challenging, especially in the long run. That’s why Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) researchers are helping providers support people in making healthy lifestyle choices.

“Changing unhealthy habits or breaking an addiction can be very difficult,” says Jennifer B. McClure, PhD, KPWHRI senior investigator and director of research, faculty, & development. “Our goal is to make these changes easier for people, so they can live longer and healthier lives. As scientists and clinicians, we want to empower people to take control of their health and well-being. We also want to change the health care system to better support patients’ needs. Ultimately, our aim is to prevent disease, not just treat it.”

KPWHRI’s behavioral medicine research includes:

  • developing new treatments to help people stop smoking;
  • promoting better oral health;
  • developing family-based obesity-prevention programs;
  • reducing sedentary behavior;
  • providing screening and assistance to decrease unhealthy alcohol use;
  • establishing team care for chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure;
  • supporting consistent medication use in people have chronic conditions; and
  • creating personalized, convenient, effective behavioral interventions that can be delivered using a variety of emerging technologies.

”Historically our work has tested new forms of counseling, phone-based coaching, and self-help materials,” says Dr. McClure. “With the rise in use of smartphones, we are focusing more on developing mobile Health (mHealth) tools, like smartphone apps, and other technology-based strategies to help people set and achieve their health goals. It’s an exciting time to be a researcher in this field.”

 “Our goal in behavioral medicine research is to help patients develop lifelong habits that keep them healthy,” says Senior Investigator Katharine A. Bradley, MD, MPH, who studies alcohol misuse.

Recent Publications on Behavior Change

Thakral M, Walker RL, Saunders K, Shortreed SM, Dublin S, Parchman M, Hansen RN, Ludman E, Sherman KJ, Von Korff M. Impact of opioid dose reduction and risk mitigation initiatives on chronic opioid therapy patients at higher risk for opioid-related adverse outcomes. Pain Med. 2017 Dec 6. pii: 4689184. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnx293.[Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Lapham GT, Lee AK, Caldeiro RM, McCarty D, Browne KC, Walker DD, Kivlahan DR, Bradley KA. Frequency of cannabis use among primary care patients in Washington state. J Am Board Fam Med. 2017 Nov-Dec;30(6):795-805. doi: 10.3122/jabfm.2017.06.170062. PubMed

Heffner JL, Mull KE, McClure JB, Bricker JB. Positive affect as a predictor of smoking cessation and relapse: does it offer unique predictive value among depressive symptom domains? Subst Use Misuse. 2017 Nov 21:1-9. doi: 10.1080/10826084.2017.1387569. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Blosnich JR, Lehavot K, Glass JE, Williams EC. Differences in alcohol use and alcohol-related health care among transgender and nontransgender adults: findings from the 2014 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. J Stud Alcohol Drugs. 2017 Nov;78(6):861-866. PubMed

Williams EC, Achtmeyer CE, Young JP, Berger D, Curran G, Bradley KA, Richards J, Siegel MB, Ludman EJ, Lapham GT, Forehand M, Harris AHS. Barriers to and facilitators of alcohol use disorder pharmacotherapy in primary care: a qualitative study in five VA clinics. J Gen Intern Med. 2017 Oct 30. doi: 10.1007/s11606-017-4202-z. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Behavior Change

Katharine A. Bradley, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2151
Katharine.A.Bradley@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, KPWHRI; Associate Medical Director for Research and Translation & Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group
206-287-2113
Paula.Lozano@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jennifer B. McClure, PhD

Director of Research, Faculty, & Development; Senior Investigator
206-287-2737
Jennifer.B.Mcclure@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Associate Investigator
206-287-2532
Dori.E.Rosenberg@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

James D. Ralston, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2076
James.D.Ralston@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Michael R. Von Korff, ScD

Senior Investigator
206-287-2874
Michael.R.Vonkorff@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Nora Henrikson, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator
206-287-4675
Nora.B.Henrikson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Ben Balderson, PhD

Research Associate
206-287-2803
Benjamin.H.Balderson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Gwen Lapham, PhD, MPH, MSW

Assistant Investigator
206-287-2021
Gwen.T.Lapham@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Melissa L. Anderson, MS

Senior Biostatistician
206-287-2647
Melissa.L.Anderson@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula R. Blasi, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2094
Paula.R.Blasi@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah Tuzzio, MPH

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Cara C. Lewis, PhD, HSPP

Associate Investigator
206-442-4076
Cara.C.Lewis@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Joseph E. Glass, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-4266
Joseph.E.Glass@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Amy K. Lee, MPH

Research Associate
206-287-2827
Amy.K.Lee@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Beverly B. Green, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator
206-287-2997
Bev.B.Green@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Julie E. Richards, MPH

Research Associate II
206-287-2100
Julie.E.Richards@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Lynn DeBar, PhD

Senior Investigator
(206) 287-2942
Lynn.Debar@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers

Sheryl L. Catz, PhD
Professor, Health Care Innovation and Technology, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing
University of California–Davis

Elizabeth Lin, MD, MPH
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of Washington Family Practice;
Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute

Sue McCurry, PhD
University of Washington (UW) Department of Psychosocial and Community Health

Emily Williams, PhD, MPH
UW Department of Health Services; VA Health Services Research & Development Center of Excellence