Healthy Communities

“We need to have collaborative approaches to addressing complex community problems, especially with the shift from more traditional programming to environmental, policy, and systems changes that can have large-scale community impact.”

Maggie Jones, MPH
Director, Center for Community Health & Evaluation

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 KPWHRI Senior Investigator and former CCHE Director 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 Operations and Development Manager Emily Bourcier is overseeing an evaluation of the Strong, Prosperous, and Resilient Communities Challenge, or SPARCC—an ambitious multi-funder initiative to change the way built environment changes advance racial equity, health, and climate resilience in six U.S. regions.

Beyond CCHE, other Kaiser Permanente Washington researchers are exploring opportunities to improve population health by creating healthier communities. Among these efforts are:

  • Assistant Investigator Dori Rosenberg, PhD, MPH, is investigating how the built environment can better encourage walking and other movement, especially for older adults and those who have limited mobility.
  • Assistant Investigator Clarissa Hsu, PhD,  led 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.
  • 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

Bourcier E, Charbonneau D, Cahill C, Dannenberg AL. An evaluation of health impact assessments in the United States, 2011-2014. Prev Chronic Dis. 2015 Feb 19;12:E23. doi: 10.5888/pcd12.140376.

Chang E, Chan KS. Variations in Asian Americans: how neighborhood concordance is associated with healthcare access and utilization. Am J Public Health. 2015 Jan;105(1):66-68 Epub 2014 Nov 13.

Alegria M, Ludman E, Kafali N, Lapatin S, Villa D, Shrout PE, Keefe K, Cook B, Ault A, Li X, Bauer A, Epelbaum C, Alcantara C, Pineda TI, Tejera GG, Suarez G, Leon K, Lessios AS, Ramirez RR, Canino G. Effectiveness of the engagement and counseling for Latinos (ECLA) intervention in low-income Latinos. Med Care. 2014 Nov;52(11):989-97. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000232. PubMed

Talamantes E, Moreno G, Guerrero LR, Mangione CM, Morales LS. Hablamos juntos (together we speak): a brief patient-reported measure of the quality of interpretation. Patient Relat Outcome Meas. 2014 Sep 9;5:87-92. doi: 10.2147/PROM.S68699. eCollection 2014. PubMed

Ornelas IJ, Allen C, Vaughan C, Williams EC, Negi N. Vida PURA: a cultural adaptation of screening and brief intervention to reduce unhealthy drinking among Latino day laborers. Subst Abus. 2015 Jul-Sep;36(3):264-71. doi: 10.1080/08897077.2014.955900. Epub 2014 Aug 25. PubMed

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