Preventive Medicine

“To help patients avoid the suffering of serious illnesses and injury, we’re seeking the most innovative ways to make screening and health promotion a part of everyday medical practice.”

David C. Grossman, MD, MPH
Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute Senior Investigator
Kaiser Permanente Washington Medical Director for Population & Purchaser Strategy
Washington Permanente Medical Group, Pediatrics

Research overview

Research is often lauded for finding life-saving treatments for diseases like cancer or diabetes. But consider the impact of preventing such illnesses from developing in the first place. It’s hard to describe the value of stopping suffering and tragedy from ever happening. Yet that’s the goal of research on preventive care.

Most Kaiser Permanente Washington scientists study prevention—whether their work focuses on promoting health by influencing individual behavior, building sound prevention services into everyday clinical care, designing smart health coverage, or all three. By conducting their research at Kaiser Permanente Washington—which combines care and coverage—our researchers have access to data from a large, stable population over time, allowing them to discover which approaches to prevention work best.

Examples include research in areas such as:


We’re improving the safety and effectiveness of vaccines through clinical trials, and we’re monitoring how well each year’s new flu vaccines are working. In addition, we’re studying ways to better inform parents about the benefits and potential harms of childhood vaccines, in order to improve their uptake.

Drug safety

We’re working on several fronts to help ensure the safety of prescription drugs and other medical treatments. For example, we play a leading role in the Food and Drug Administration’s Mini-Sentinel program to monitor the safety of medical products through routinely collected electronic health care data. We’re exploring ways to improve the safety of prescribing opioid pain medications. And we often study the safety of drugs commonly used to prevent chronic conditions like heart disease, cancer, and depression.


Prevention also includes screening to detect disease before symptoms appear, to identify and treat disease at an earlier stage. Our research is improving the effectiveness of cancer screening programs so people get the appropriate tests when needed based on their particular risks. Our research is also aimed at improving clinical screening for behavioral risks such as smoking, suicidal thoughts, alcohol use disorders, and poor eating and exercise habits.

Health promotion

Our research in areas such as smoking cessation, healthy diet, and chronic illness care finds new ways to encourage individuals to adopt and maintain healthier lifestyles. At the same time, we’re exploring ways to reach large populations through the use of phone-based programs, websites, and mobile technologies.

Value-based benefit design

By evaluating Kaiser Permanente Washington’s innovative approaches to health insurance design, we finding our how health benefits may encourage healthy behaviors, improve health outcomes, and reduce costs.

Much of our prevention-related research is conducted in collaboration with the Kaiser Permanente Washington Department of Preventive Care (DPC), a subspecialty group within Kaiser Permanente Washington’s medical staff. DPC is led by Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI) Senior Investigators David C. Grossman, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Washington medical director for population and purchaser strategy, and Paula Lozano, MD, MPH, Kaiser Permanente Washington’s assistant medical director for preventive care. Both pediatricians, Drs. Grossman and Lozano work with the medical staff and others to find innovative ways to design, promote, deliver, and evaluate preventive care and health promotion services for the organization’s 600,000 members. By doing so, they’re bringing value to Kaiser Permanente Washington patients while discovering new approaches that can be disseminated to health care systems nationwide.

KPWHRI researchers also serve the public by producing reviews of scientific evidence that policymakers at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and others use in health care decision-making. KPWHRI does this work as part of the Kaiser Permanente Research Affiliates Evidence-based Practice Center, one of 11 such centers nationwide that are sponsored by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

Recent publications on Preventive Medicine

Bibbins-Domingo K, Whitlock E, Wolff T, Ngo-Metzger Q, Phillips WR, Davidson KW, Krist AH, Lin JS, Mangione CM, Kurth AE, García FA, Curry SJ, Grossman DC, Landefeld CS, Epling JW Jr, Siu AL. Developing recommendations for evidence-based clinical preventive services for diverse populations: methods of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Ann Intern Med. 2017 Mar 7. doi: 10.7326/M16-2656. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Bibbins-Domingo K, Grossman DC, Curry SJ, Davidson KW, Epling JW Jr, Garcia FA, Herzstein J, Kemper AR, Krist AH, Kurth AE, Landefeld CS, Mangione CM, Phillips WR, Phipps MG, Pignone MP, Silverstein M, Tseng CW. Screening for obstructive sleep apnea in adults: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2017;317(4):407-414. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.20325. PubMed

Belza B, Miyawaki CE, Allen P, King DK, Marquez DX, Jones DL, Janicek S, Rosenberg D, Brown DR. Building community: stakeholder perspectives on walking in malls and other venues. J Aging Phys Act. 2017 Jan 17:1-41. doi: 10.1123/japa.2016-0018. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

US Preventive Services Task Force, Bibbins-Domingo K, Grossman DC, Curry SJ, Davidson KW, Epling JW Jr, García FA, Kemper AR, Krist AH, Kurth AE, Landefeld CS, Mangione CM, Phillips WR, Phipps MG, Pignone MP, Silverstein M, Tseng CW. Folic acid supplementation for the prevention of neural tube defects: US Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. JAMA. 2017 Jan 10;317(2):183-189. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.19438. PubMed

Ritvo P, Myers M, Serenity M, Gupta S, Inadomi J, Green BB, Jerant A,Tinmouth J, Paszat L, Pirbaglou M, Rabeneck L. Taxonomy for colorectal cancer screening promotion: lessons from recent randomized controlled trials. Prev Med. 2016 Dec 23. pii: S0091-7435(16)30428-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2016.12.024. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Researchers in Preventive Medicine

David C. Grossman, MD, MPH

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Sr Associate Medical Director, Market Strategy & Public Policy and Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula Lozano, MD, MPH

Sr Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute; Associate Medical Director for Research and Translation & Physician, Pediatrics, Washington Permanente Medical Group

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Diana S. Buist, PhD, MPH

Director of Research and Strategic Partnership; Senior Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Katharine A. Bradley, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Jessica Chubak, PhD, MBHL

Associate Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Dori E. Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Karen Wernli, PhD

Associate Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Erin J. Bowles, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Nora Henrikson, PhD, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Aruna Kamineni, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Judith Schaefer, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Melissa L. Anderson, MS

Senior Biostatistician

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Caitlin Morrison, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Paula R. Blasi, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Leah Tuzzio, MPH

Research Associate

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Joseph E. Glass, PhD

Assistant Scientific Investigator

Curriculum vitae (CV)

Julie E. Richards, MPH

Research Associate II

Curriculum vitae (CV)