Morgan Clennin, PhD, MPH


Morgan Clennin, PhD, MPH, is an Investigator at the Institute for Health Research. Her research interests include examining the influence of social and structural determinants of health and neighborhood environments on the development of chronic disease, with a focus on cardiovascular health and disparities. As a community health researcher, she focuses her work on eliminating disparities in risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD). Her long-term career goal is to become an outstanding, independent, and externally funded researcher with expertise in assessing the contributions of social and structural determinants on CVD risk factors and implementing structural interventions to reduce the persistent disparities in cardiovascular health.

Dr. Clennin earned her PhD in Exercise Science with an emphasis on social epidemiology and health disparities from the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health. She completed her Master of Public Health from Saint Louis University with an emphasis in Behavior Science and Epidemiology. Her training and research experiences have included: 1) assessment of neighborhood attributes and environmental characteristics via direct observations, audits, and secondary data analyses; 2) application of epidemiologic approaches using medical encounters data; 3) social epidemiology studies and natural experiments to examine the impact of neighborhoods on CVD-related health behaviors and risk factors; and 4) evaluating the impact of structural interventions and social determinants of health on health-related outcomes across multiple settings.

Dr. Clennin serves as principal investigator or co-investigator for several research, quality improvement, and evaluation projects, has authored nearly three dozen peer-reviewed publications and delivered over thirty-five presentations at professional conferences. She also collaborates with the Kaiser Permanente Social Needs Network for Evaluation and Translation (SONNET), Physical Activity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (PAPREN) and the Colorado Cardiovascular Outcomes Research (C-COR) Consortium.

Selected Research:

  • American Heart Association Career Development Award: Elevated BLood PressurE: A MultileVel Assessment of sTructural racism, nEighborhood inequalities, and Disparities (ELEVATED Study)
  • Elevated blood pressure (BP) is the most prevalent risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The proposed research will leverage KP cohort data to address the following specific aims: 1) determine the extent to which structural conditions contributes to racial and ethnic disparities in BP; and 2) determine the extent to which cumulative neighborhood inequalities influence the relationship between structural racism and BP disparities. A better understanding of the root causes driving BP disparities will help identify ways to develop targeted clinic-based strategies and community-level interventions. This Career Development Award will provide the candidate, Dr. Morgan Clennin, with the opportunity to augment her expertise in neighborhood environment assessment and social epidemiology with new training in (1) decomposition modeling to understand how multilevel SR influence BP outcomes; and (2) time-varying spatial modeling to account for cumulative neighborhood exposures.

    • Funder: American Heart Association
    • End Date: 03/31/2025

  • Evaluating Community-Driven Healthy Equity Structural interventions to Address Social Determinants of Health
  • The CDPHE Office of Health Equity funds two separate grant programs under the Health Disparity and Community Grant Program (HDCGP, two programs under a single contract):

    • The first grant program funded 14 lead agencies with multi-sector partnerships to implement evidence-based strategies to overcome health disparities in the prevention, early detection, and treatment of cancer, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases in underrepresented populations by working on systems and policy changes that are community led. Community organizations were funded by the Health Disparities and Community Grant Program (Amendment 35). The goal of this evaluation was to conduct a comprehensive evaluation to assess 1) how the grant program built community power through authentic community engagement, capacity building, and establishing strategic and diverse partnerships; 2) the extent to which improved community power advanced progress towards policy, system, and environmental (PSE) changes to improve social infrastructure (e.g., housing insecurity, food insecurity, unemployment); and 3) the impact of achieved PSE changes on access to upstream social and economic resources (that will eventually lead to improved health outcomes and reduced health inequities and disparities).
    • The second grant program provided funding to 30 community and grassroots organizations to develop local plans and capacity toward achieving health equity. Goal is to create a foundation to improve social infrastructure and health outcomes that eventually lead to the reduction of health inequities and disparities. Funds are explicitly intended for projects that create and/or launch a foundation for making changes to public, systems-level, and/or organizational practices, rules, laws, and regulations that influence the health of underrepresented communities. Using the power ecosystem framework, the goal of this project is to conduct a comprehensive evaluation to document how grantees’ build community power and resilience; develop community-led, collaborative solutions that contribute to systemic change; and shift power in communities.

    • Funder: Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Office of Health Equity
    • End Date: 06/30/2025

  • Longitudinal Evaluation of Member-Reported Social Needs as a Driver for Healthcare Utilization
  • This project aims to identify social risk(s) that are most associated with member retention and healthcare utilization. This project will expand upon our prior cross-sectional work and also incorporate 2022 National Social Health Survey and prospective EHR data to examine the longitudinal relationship between social risk and utilization outcomes. Guided by Andersen’s Behavioral Model for Health Services Use, our project aims to: 1) describe longitudinal changes in member-reported social risks and social needs as assessed via the 2020 and 2022 National SHS surveys and EHR social risk screening data (e.g., EPIC SDoH Wheel); 2) explore the extent to which cumulative social risk exposures are associated with member retention; and 3) examine the longitudinal association between member-reported social risks, social needs, and health care utilization (i.e., ED and hospitalization encounters).

    • Funder: Kaiser Permanente Social Needs Network for Evaluation and Translation (SONNET)
    • End Date: 12/31/2023