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

Aggarwal A, Cook AJ, Jiao J, Seguin RA, Vernez Moudon A, Hurvitz PM, Drewnowski A. Access to supermarkets and fruit and vegetable consumption. Am J Public Health. 2014 May;104(5):917-23. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2013.301763. Epub 2014 Mar 13. PubMed

Aggarwal A, Monsivais P, Cook AJ, Drewnowski A. Positive attitude toward healthy eating predicts higher diet quality at all cost levels of supermarkets. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2014 Feb;114(2):266-72. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.06.006. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Drewnowski A, Rehm CD, Arterburn D. The geographic distribution of obesity by census tract among 59,767 insured adults in King County, WA. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Jun;38(6):833-9. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.179. Epub 2013 Sep 16. PubMed

Heller J, Givens ML, Yuen TK, Gould S, Jandu MB, Bourcier E, Choi T. Advancing efforts to achieve health equity: equity metrics for health impact assessment practice. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Oct 24;11(11):11054-64. doi: 10.3390/ijerph111111054. PubMed

Belza B, Petrescu-Prahova M, Kohn M, Miyawaki CE, Farren L, Kline G, Heston AH. Adoption of evidence-based health promotion programs: perspectives of early adopters of Enhance((R))Fitness in YMCA-affiliated sites. Front Public Health. 2015 Apr 27;2:164. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00164. eCollection 2014. PubMed

Researchers in Healthy Communities

Allen Cheadle, PhD

Senior Research Associate, Center for Community Health & Evaluation; Senior Investigator, KPWHRI
206-287-4391
Allen.D.Cheadle@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Clarissa Hsu, PhD

Assistant Investigator
206-287-4276
Clarissa.W.Hsu@kp.org

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah Tuzzio, MPH

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

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Affiliate researchers in healthy communities

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