Health Disparities

The Institute for Health Research conducts studies to identify health disparities and interventions to reduce them for Kaiser Permanente members and the broader community in several areas of prevention and chronic disease treatment. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines health disparities as “preventable differences in the burden of disease, injury, violence, or opportunities to achieve optimal health that are experienced by socially disadvantaged populations”.

Ongoing studies include:

  • Multiple studies to improve the identification of disparities in basic resource needs such as housing, food, and transportation among Kaiser Permanente members and develop strategies to help members address those needs
  • An NIH-funded study to examine the social determinants of drug use risk behavior and overdose
  • A systematic review of research on disparities in opioid use disorder treatment access, retention, and outcomes
  • A study examining the risk of opioid overdose among people with a felony conviction


Health Disparities Researchers


Featured Projects

Investigator: Anh Nguyen, PhD
This study assesses health and healthcare disparities in opioid exposed populations across three health systems.
Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Study End Date: 12/31/2022
Investigators: Cheryl Kelly, PhD, MPH, MA and Morgan Clennin, PhD, MPH
The Office of Health Equity’s (OHE) Health Disparities Grant Program (HDGP) is providing support to agencies across Colorado to address upstream determinants of health (e.g., housing, education) with the goal of improving downstream health outcomes (e.g., access to care, decreased chronic disease rates). The goal of this project is to conduct a comprehensive cross-site evaluation of these funded agencies implementing system or policy changes that reduce health disparities (e.g., housing insecurity, food insecurity, unemployment). The evaluation is assessing the role of community engagement, community capacity building, and multisectoral partnerships in advancing the community’s collective action to solve problems and how that informed policy, environmental, and system changes designed to improve access to social and economic resources. Innovative methods have been developed to measure authentic community engagement and the role of partners and community members in making decisions. Additionally, an in-depth evaluation is being conducted to assess how the partnership network and community engagement helped drive the prioritization and adoption of PSE changes.
Funder: Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, Office of Health Equity
Study End Date: 06/30/2021
Investigator: Cheryl Kelly, PhD, MPH, MA
Assess the impact of the Generation Wild Initiative on youth access to the outdoors, value of the outdoors, and time spent outdoors. The Generation Wild Initiative is deigned to inspire children and their families to enjoy the outdoors from the backyard to the backcountry and provide opportunities for older youth to gain leadership experience in the outdoors. The evaluation will assess the impact of the place improvements as well as programs and pathways across all funded communities using a web-based quantitative reporting tool, key informant interviews and youth surveys. Additionally, the evaluation will use social network analysis to assess the quantity and strength of partner collaborations within community coalitions.
Funder: Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO)
Study End Date: 2021
Investigator: John F. Steiner, MD, MPH
The aims of this project are (1) to compare the effects of a values-affirmation exercise with a control exercise on antihypertensive medication adherence in African American patients across three clinical settings; and (2) compare the effects of the values-affirmation exercise in African American patients with its effects in white patients with similar socioeconomic and clinical characteristics.
Funder: National Institutes of Health
Study End Date: 05/31/2021
Investigator: Ingrid A. Binswanger, MD, MPH, MS
A project to improve the measurement of health indicators among people with criminal justice involvement.
Funder: U.S. Department of Justice
Study End Date: 07/01/2020
Investigator: John F. Steiner, MD, MPH
The goal of this project was to improve care for patients with hypertension at the First Nations Community HealthSource, an Urban Indian Health Organization in Albuquerque New Mexico. The study supported a randomized, controlled trial of interactive voice-response outreach to patients with hypertension, with the goal of improving blood pressure control through reducing missed clinic appointments and improving medication adherence.
Funder: American Heart Association
Study End Date: 06/30/2020
Investigators: Ingrid A. Binswanger, MD, MPH,MS, and Jason Glanz, PhD, and Anh Nguyen, PhD
The diversity supplement to the parent Naloxone trial aims to: 1) augment the parent trial database of EHR and survey data with social and environmental determinants of health 2) determine the predictive validity of risk behavior survey measures by examining associations between survey responses and measures of risk behavior from the EHR and 3) identify predictors of opioid risk behavior in trial eligible patients. It also supports post-doctoral training and career development of a research fellow.
Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Study End Date: 2020
Investigator: Ingrid A. Binswanger, MD, MPH,MS
This study explored ways to improve justice-involved veterans' access to and use of pharmacotherapy for opioid use disorder through qualitative interviews with veterans, VA justice outreach staff, criminal justice system staff, and VA and community health care providers who work with justice-involved veterans.
Funder: National Institute on Drug Abuse
Study End Date: 02/28/2020