Our Work and Impact

Our research is funded by state and federal governments as well as foundations to support evidence-based policy and practice in primary care for population-level impact. Learn more about our department’s research areas and explore examples of the innovative work our faculty are currently engaged in.

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Our work identifies factors associated with increased risk of developing chronic conditions and best practices for management of chronic disease symptoms. Research projects involve development of effective prevention and treatment programs to promote healthy lifestyles.


Principal Investigator: John Muench
This study aims to investigate trends in opioid prescribing in a large, national system of >500 safety net clinics, linking electronic health record data with geographic information system based measures of poverty and Medicaid claims records. The study will describe historical and geographic trends in opioid use as well as factors associated with the likelihood of receiving opioids chronically and outcomes of long-term use.

Meaningful Use and Treatment of Smoking in Federally-Qualified Health Centers
Principal Investigator: Steffani Bailey
This innovative mixed methods study examines the impact of Stage 1 Meaningful Use of Electronic Health Records on the assessment and treatment of smoking in a network of Federally-Qualified Health Centers as well as identifying facilitators and barriers to the delivery of smoking cessation treatments. This project will provide valuable information for medical providers and policy makers as they attempt to increase smoking cessation services for underserved patients through the use of electronic health records.

Measurement of Nicotine Dependence Among Adolescent and Young Adult Cigarillo Users
Principal Investigator: Susan Flocke
The use of cigarillos, cigars and little cigars (CCLC) has increased dramatically especially among adolescents and young adults. Inequitable regulation with regard to reporting contents, labeling, flavoring and packaging make CCLC products highly attractive and accessible to adolescents. This project uses rigorous methods to develop a measure of nicotine dependence that is valid and reliable for CCLC users. This work will inform whether these products are causing nicotine dependence and harm to users and thus, should be subjected to the same regulations as cigarettes.

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With the mission of improving the health of patients and populations served by primary care practices, our research focuses on promoting innovation and studying the impact of healthcare workforce education and development.


Northwest Native American Center of Excellence (NNACOE)
Principal Investigator: Erik Brodt
The Center aims to comprehensively and sustainably address the healthcare needs of AI/AN people by diversifying the health workforce in our region. The Center builds upon existing programs and key relationships in recruiting and retaining AI/AN students focusing on pre-college, college and post-college students interested in medical or physician assistant schools. By using innovative methods, the Center inspires students to envision themselves as health professionals and supports their academic success through enrichment programs.
Learn more about the Northwest Native American Center of Excellence.

Relational Leadership Institute (RLI)
Principal Investigators: Brian Park, Patrice Eiff
The Relational Leadership Institute is a three-month longitudinal course of innovative strategies for transforming health care through the development of Relational Leadership Competencies. This project aims to develop the RLI curriculum, deliver the course to providers and students from a variety of health professions, and use mixed methods to evaluate the course’s effectiveness at developing participants’ leadership skills.
Learn more about the Relational Leadership Institute.

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We study how innovation and transformation in primary care works, and how it affects clinical workflow, workforce, and patients' health outcomes. We experiment with new tools and functions in the electronic health record; implementation of care teams; integration of physical, mental and behavioral health; and expansion of new types of services to be more patient-centered. We also pioneer the use of health data to inform innovation and transformation efforts through the use of dashboards and reporting.

Dissemination and implementation science is the study of how best to integrate evidence-based interventions into clinical and community settings. Dissemination research involves examining the process of spreading knowledge and evidence-based interventions to health and clinical care audiences. Implementation research seeks to understand how healthcare professionals and other stakeholders adopt and implement evidence-based interventions and to identify and address barriers and facilitators to effective implementation. Dissemination and implementation research uses a range of methods to study innovations and accelerate the spread of evidence into practice.


Principal Investigator: Jennifer DeVoe | Contact: Sonja Likumahuwa-Ackman
The BRIDGE-C2 Center — Building Research in Implementation and Dissemination to close Gaps and achieve Equity in Cancer Control — focuses on enhancing use of interventions to reduce care gaps and disparities among patients seen in the healthcare safety net. The Center's grand challenge is to advance implementation science to improve cancer screening and prevention in underserved populations.
Learn more about BRIDGE-C2.

Principal Investigator: Deborah Cohen | Contact: Leah Gordon
Evaluating System Change to Advance Learning and Take Evidence to Scale (ESCALATES) is the national evaluation for EvidenceNOW, which is focused on helping primary care practices use the latest evidence to improve the heart health of Americans. The ESCALATES team is studying which practice supports and quality improvement strategies are most effective across the seven regional cooperatives participating in this initiative.
Learn more about ESCALATES. 

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We study access to health care, disparities in care, and how changes in health policy impact population health, using electronic health records (EHR), insurance claims, and state databases. Several projects study primary care utilization by uninsured and underinsured populations, particularly relating to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Research findings inform community, practice and policy interventions that improve the delivery of care for vulnerable populations and reduce health disparities.


Principal Investigator: John Heintzman | Contact: Roop Datta
Bettering Asthma Care in Kids - Geographic Social Determinants Data to Understand Disparities (BACKGROUND) intends to identify which social determinants are most strongly associated with Latino children's asthma care by utilizing an objective, longitudinal, and robust linkage of data sources encompassing thousands of vulnerable children across multiple states.

Principal Investigator: Ana Quiñones | Contact: Katherine Peak
This project examines the number and type of chronic conditions vulnerable adults are living with and identifies adults most at risk for worsened symptoms, escalation of chronic disease-related problems, and additional diagnoses that are accumulated over time. The findings from Aging in Community Health Clinics: Multimorbidity Patterns among Middle-Aged and Older Adults (ACHES) will inform clinical processes (workflow, clinical care decision-making) and policies that serve safety-net populations by identifying multimorbidity patterns predictive of rapid health downturns. 

Principal Investigator: Nathalie Huguet | Contact: Irina Chamine
Post ACA Reform: Evaluate Community Health Center Care for Diabetes (PREVENT-D) will measure the impact of ACA Medicaid expansions on diabetes mellitus prevention, treatment, expenditures and health outcomes using EHR data. The team is collecting detailed information on changes in health insurance, service receipt, and health outcomes, with data spanning nine years (pre- and post-expansion), comparing states that expanded Medicaid, and those that did not. 

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