William M. Vollmer, PhD

Senior Investigator Emeritus

Areas of Focus



William Vollmer, PhD, is a biostatistician who conducts research in several areas, including the non-pharmacologic control of blood pressure and weight, and the epidemiology and management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

The focus of his more recent research has been on how the electronic medical record can be used with information technology to help improve population-based disease management within Kaiser Permanente. Two such studies were designed to help patients get needed medication refills at the right time. The PEANUT study promoted medication adherence among patients with asthma; the PATIENT study promoted adherence among patients with cardiovascular disease. These trials were conducted in close partnership with the Kaiser Permanente Health Plan and involved thousands of participants in order to provide a real-world test of the interventions.

Dr. Vollmer has also served as lead statistician on two large pragmatic, cluster randomized trials being conducted as part of the NIH Collaboratory. These studies reflect his strong current interest in “effectiveness-implementation hybrid designs” that combine elements of both comparative effectiveness and implementation research. Such “pragmatic” studies are an important way to help speed the translation of research findings into clinical practice.

Much of Dr. Vollmer’s work is done in collaboration with other sites, and he has directed or helped to direct a number of data coordinating centers as part of these efforts. In this role, he helps steer multi-site trials and works collaboratively with other investigators to resolve complex protocol-related issues. These collaborative studies included the original work on the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which has since become widely recognized and promoted as an effective, easy to follow dietary pattern to help individuals reduce both blood pressure and weight.

Dr. Vollmer received his PhD in biostatistics from the University of Washington. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Behavioral Sciences and Health Services Research Assembly of the American Thoracic Society and is an associate fellow of the American Heart Association's Council on Epidemiology. He has been an invited speaker at a number of national and international scientific conferences, and for many years has traveled the world teaching pulmonary clinicians how to conduct clinical research.

Although formally retired, Dr. Vollmer continues his involvement on research projects on a part-time basis.

Selected Publications

  • Vollmer WM. Assessment of asthma control and severity. Annals of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology 2004; 93(5):409-414.
  • Vollmer WM, Osborne ML, Buist AS. Temporal trends in hospital based episodes of asthma care in a health maintenance organization. American Review of Respiratory Disease 1993; 147:347-353.
  • Appel LJ, Moore TJ, Obarzanek E, Vollmer WM, Svetkey LP, Sacks FM, Bray GA, Vogt TM, Cutler JA, Simons-Morton D, Lin PH, Karanja N, Windhauser MM, McCullough M, Swain J, Steele P, Evans MA, Miller ER, Harsha DW for the DASH Collaborative Research Group. The effect of dietary patterns on blood pressure: Results from the DASH clinical trial. New England Journal of Medicine 1997; 336(16):1117-1124.
  • Sacks FM, Svetkey LP, Vollmer WM, Appel LJ, Bray GA, Harsha D, Obarzanek E, Conlin PR, Miller ER III, Simons-Morton DG, Karanja N, Lin PH, Aickin M, Proschan MA, Most-Windhauser MM, Moore TJ, Cutler JA. A clinical trial of the effects on blood pressure of reduced dietary sodium and the DASH dietary pattern. New England Journal of Medicine 2001; 344(1):3-10.
  • Schatz M, Zeiger RS, Vollmer WM, Mosen D, Apter AJ, Stibolt TB, Leong A, Johnson MS, Mendoza G, Cook EF. Development and validation of a medication intensity scale derived from computerized pharmacy data that predicts emergency hospital utilization for persistent asthma. American Journal of Managed Care 2006 Aug; 12(8):478-484.
  • Buist AS, Vollmer WM, Sullivan SA, Weiss KB, Lee TA, Menezes AMB, Crapo RO, Jensen RL, Burney PGJ. The Burden of Lung Disease Initiative (BOLD): Rationale and design. COPD: Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease 2005; 2(2):277-283.
  • Svetkey LP, Stevens VJ, Brantley PJ, Appel LJ, Hollis JF, Loria CM, Vollmer WM, Gullion CM, Funk K, Smith P, Samuel-Hodge C, Myers V, Lien LF, Laferriere D, Kennedy B, Jerome GJ, Heinith F, Harsha D, Evans P, Erlinger T, Dalcin AT, Coughlin J, Charleston J, Champagne CM, Bauck A, Ard JD, Aicher K for the Weight Loss Maintenance Collaborative Research Group. Strategies for sustaining weight loss: Main results of the Weight Loss Maintenance Trial. Journal of the American Medical Association 2008 Mar 12; 299(10):1139-1148.
  • Wilson SR, Strub P, Buist AS, Knowles SB, Lavori PW, Lapidus J, Vollmer WM; Better Outcomes of Asthma Treatment (BOAT) Study Group. Shared treatment decision making improves adherence and outcomes in poorly controlled asthma. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine 2010 Mar 15; 181(6):566-77. [Epub 2009 Dec 17]
  • Vollmer WM, Xu M, Feldstein A, Smith D, Waterbury A, Rand C. Comparison of pharmacy-based measures of medication adherence. BMC Health Serv Res 2012 Jun 12;12(1):155.
  • Vollmer WM, Owen-Smith AA, Tom JO, Laws R, Ditmer DG, Smith DH, Waterbury A, Schneider JL, Yonehara CH, Williams A, Vupputuri S, Rand CJ. Improving adherence to cardiovascular disease medications with information technology. Am J Manag Care 2014;20(11 Spec No. 17):SP502-SP510.

Press Release

Automated Reminders Improve Medication Adherence and Cholesterol Control

People who received automated reminders were more likely to refill their blood pressure and cholesterol medications, according to a study published today in a special issue of the American Journal of Managed Care.

Nov 17 2014

Press Release

Asthma Patients Breathe Easier When They Share Disease-management Decisions with Clinicians

Millions of Americans suffer from asthma, but only about half regularly take their medications at therapeutically effective doses. How can we improve these numbers?

Feb 10, 2010