AboutCHR and the Community

CHR and the Community

From its founding in 1964, the Center for Health Research has been committed to improving health outcomes and the delivery of health care in our communities. Early community-based research at CHR included a seminal 1968 project funded by the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity, in which Kaiser Permanente Northwest worked with nearly fifty neighborhood health centers in impoverished areas.

The Center for Health Research continues to receive key support from Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit. Community Benefit helps fund research that involves the community or directly benefits underserved populations in our service areas. With this support, the Center is able to conduct important pilot projects and research studies that would otherwise not be possible.

The relationship between CHR and Community Benefit helps fulfill Kaiser Permanente’s mission to serve the community. As a nonprofit health care system, Kaiser Permanente has an obligation to help meet the community’s needs in such areas as health care access, oral health, mental health, maternal and infant health, and chronic disease related to poor nutrition or lack of physical activity. In each of these areas, the Center for Health Research conducts innovative studies to improve outcomes and inform health care policy.

Featured Community-Based Studies

Pairing Assistance Dogs with Soldiers (PAWS)

Anecdotal evidence suggests that psychiatric service dogs can be helpful for veterans with mental health conditions, but there have been no studies of the effectiveness of service dogs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We conducted surveys and interviews with PTSD-diagnosed veterans. Compared to those without service dogs, veterans with PTSD and specially trained service dogs experienced a number of improved mental health outcomes.


Carla Green, PhD
Principal Investigator
Funder: Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit

Medicaid Prediction Model for Emergency Visits

With support from the Community Benefit Initiative, we developed a model to predict Medicaid patients at the highest risk (≥90th percentile) of an emergency department visit. With such a model, case managers will have a powerful tool for identifying the highest-risk patients and delivering interventions to prevent emergency visits.


Eric Johnson, PhD
Principal Investigator
Funder: Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit

Practices Enabling Adapting and Disseminating in the Safety Net (SPREAD-NET)

This study compares the effectiveness of different strategies to support community health centers as they adapt and implement the ALL (aspirin, lovastatin, and lisinopril) intervention, which is designed to increase appropriate medication prescription for patients with diabetes.


Rachel Gold, PhD
Principal Investigator
Funder: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

Health and Economic Effects of Light Rail Lines: A Natural Experiment

In 2015, a new light rail line opened in Portland, Oregon. We are studying how the rail line affects people’s health and the cost of their health care. We are comparing health outcomes and costs among 4,000 members of an integrated health plan who live near the rail line to health and costs among a similar group who live elsewhere, both before and after the opening of the rail line.


Stephen Fortmann, MD
Principal Investigator
Funder: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

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