Healthy Communities

“Tackling the complex challenges faced by communities today means bringing together health care, public health, and other sectors to come up with collaborative solutions.”

Allen Cheadle, PhD
Director, Center for Community Health & Evaluation
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator

Research overview

Health is about more than health care. Where people live can have a profound influence on daily choices that can promote population health—or harm it. Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) scientists work to improve and sustain conditions that support healthy lifestyles and health care services.

At KPWHRI’s Center for Community Health and Evaluation (CCHE), for instance, we are working with foundations, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to evaluate their community health improvement initiatives. A few examples:

  • Since 2004 CCHE Director and Senior Investigator Allen Cheadle, PhD, has led evaluations of Kaiser Permanente’s efforts to prevent obesity, including projects in more than 40 communities that promote healthy eating and active living, largely through policy and environmental changes.
  • CCHE Assistant Investigator Clarissa Hsu, PhD,  led the LINCC, a project that tested a new community resource specialist (CRS) role in primary care clinics at Kaiser Permanente Washington. CRSs help patients set health goals and connect them with health-promoting resources in their own neighborhoods, including YMCAs, community centers, and farmers’ markets.
  • CCHE Operations and Develop Manager Emily Bourcier is overseeing an evaluation of the Kresge Foundation’s Healthy Futures Fund, which finances projects that co-locate primary care centers and non-clinical services such as employment or housing.

Beyond CCHE, other Kaiser Permanente Washington researchers are exploring opportunities to improve population health by creating healthier communities. Assistant Investigator Dori Rosenberg, PhD, MPH, investigates how the built environment can better encourage walking and other movement, especially for older adults and those who have limited mobility. KPWHRI researchers have also examined the link between diabetes prevalence and neighborhood characteristics such as home value and education levels. They have also studied how other social and environmental factors affect health.

Answering such questions gives policymakers, urban planners, and others the information they need to create healthier communities in the future.

Recent Publications on Healthy Communities

Takemoto M, Schechtman M, Villa N, Talavera G, Sears DD, Owen N, Rosenberg DE, Dunstan D, Allison M, Kerr J. Arriba por la vida Estudio (AVE): study protocol for a standing intervention targeting postmenopausal Latinas. Contemp Clin Trials. 2019 Feb 13. pii: S1551-7144(18)30394-X. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2019.02.004. [Epub ahead of print].

Hartzler AL, Tuzzio L, Hsu C, Wagner EH. Roles and functions of community health workers in primary care. Ann Fam Med. 2018 May;16(3):240-245. doi: 10.1370/afm.2208. PubMed

Kroshus E, Sonnen AJ, Chrisman SP, Rivara FP. Association between community socioeconomic characteristics and access to youth flag football. Inj Prev. 2018 Jan 12. pii: injuryprev-2017-042677. doi: 10.1136/injuryprev-2017-042677. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Rich P, Aarons GA, Takemoto M, Cardenas V, Crist K, Bolling K, Lewars B, Sweet CC, Natarajan L, Shi Y, Full KM, Johnson E, Rosenberg DE, Whitt-Glover M, Marcus B, Kerr J. Implementation-effectiveness trial of an ecological intervention for physical activity in ethnically diverse low income senior centers. BMC Public Health. 2017 Jul 18;18(1):29. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4584-1. PubMed

Alcalde MG, Jones M. Investing in policy and advocacy: a foundation shares lessons learned. Nonprofit Q. Summer 2017; 62-64.

Researchers in Healthy Communities

Allen Cheadle, PhD

Senior Research Associate, Center for Community Health & Evaluation; Senior Investigator, KPWHRI

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Clarissa Hsu, PhD

Assistant Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Associate Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah Tuzzio, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers in healthy communities

David Grembowski, PhD
Professor, Health Services and Oral Health Sciences
University of Washington