Department of

Public Health Seminars:



Jordyn Wallenborn, Fourth Year PhD Student


Active projects

Our research is supported by a variety of federal and non-federal sponsors and addresses a variety of issues that matter to primary care. Our current portfolio is summarized below. We welcome research ideas from the community (practices and patients) and are open to new partnerships as we continue our work to help primary care improve health.  

Supporting Practices to Adopt Registry-based Care (SPARC)

Principal Investigator: Rebecca S. Etz, PhD & Jesse Crosson, PhD (Mathematica, Inc.)
Sponsor: National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive & Kidney Diseases
Start Date: October 2013

The purpose of this study is to test the effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness, of a low resource, low impact process for initiating improvement in the primary care management of patients with type 2 diabetes through implementation of a diabetes registry. Using a self assessment tool, a milestones document, area-based peer mentors, and a physician informaticist, we help practices to adopt registries responsive to their community context and the people they serve.

Implementing Personal Health Records to Promote Evidence-Based Cancer Screening

Principal Investigator: Alex H. Krist, MD, MPH
Sponsor: National Cancer Institute
Start Date: September 2013

This study is based on the concept that patient-centered personal health records with higher levels of functionality, combined with practice redesign to make use of these functions, can help patients obtain recommended cancer screening tests by linking them to their doctor’s records, explaining information in lay language, displaying tailored recommendations and educational resources, providing logistical support and tools to stimulate action, and generating reminders. This project will measure whether making these resources available to primary care practices and patients promotes shared decision-making and increases the delivery of cancer screening compared to existing information systems.

Understanding Patient Preferences for Informed Decision-Making

Principal Investigator: Steven H. Woolf, MD, MPH
Sponsor: Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
Start Date: October 2012
The study seeks input from patients about how they approach difficult decisions about screening for breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer and their preferences for using scientific information in making those decisions. Users of MyPreventiveCare (see descriptions elsewhere in this section) are invited to complete MyQuestions, a tool created for this project that assembles a profile of the patient's informed decision making preferences. If patients wish, their IDM preferences are forwarded to their physician ahead of upcoming appointments. Both patients and clinicians complete a Post-Encounter Survey after the appointments, and 30 of the visits are audio recorded, to study the extent to which the patient's preferences were addressed during the encounter. 

Engaging Vulnerable Consumers in Developing Useful Public Healthcare Reports

Principal Investigator: Daniel R. Longo, ScD
Sponsor: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)
Start Date: September 2012

The objective is to build the scientific base for effective public reporting of healthcare quality by examining the nature, type and dissemination of public reports by engaging consumers in focus groups to identify their needs in healthcare decision-making. The project is intended to fill two of the major gaps in the public reporting evidence base identified through the engagement of subgroups of AHRQ’s priority populations and Medicare beneficiaries as they relate to study consumer views of the design, content, and dissemination of public reports.

The Primary Care Team: Learning from Effective Practices (LEAP), Phase 2

Principal Investigator: Rebecca S. Etz, PhD
Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Start Date: September 2014

The purpose of Phase 1 of LEAP was to study high-functioning primary care sites with interesting team models and use of staffing in order to construct a Technical Assistance Package. Following intensive site visits to 30 exemplar practices conducted during Phase 1, Phase 2 involves pilot testing the tools created through Phase 1, as well as dissemination of findings.

Define and Support a Qualititative Research Agenda

Principal Investigator: Rebecca S. Etz, PhD
Sponsor: American Board of Family Medicine
Start Date: July 2013

The purpose of this project is to assist the American Board of Family Medicine in creating, prioritizing, and implementing a qualitative research program for the Board, as well as identifying, hiring, training, and mentoring a qualitative investigator to work full time for the Board. Our first collaboration involved a mixed methods analysis of over 1million open text comments to feedback surveys about the Self Assessment Modules.

Communities and Practices – Solutions through Open Neighborhood Engagement (CAPSTONE)

Principal Investigator: Rebecca S. Etz, PhD
Sponsor: Faculty Excellence Award

This project is focused on a process of collaboration with community members living in the East End of Richmond on a research priority defined by them. Following a three-day research retreat with ten community members, we defined our objective as building resources and skills in the community for parents of children diagnosed with ADHD. The team co-created the research questions, protocols, and tools. Following the analysis of focus group data, we will create brochures to be distributed widely with the help of our community partners: VCU’s Center of Excellence for Health Disparities and Healthy Start Richmond.

Care Coordination in Complex Care Clinics (C5)

Principal Investigator: Rebecca S. Etz, PhD
Sponsor: Faculty Excellence Award and Office of Health Innovation

This study will evaluate the inter-professional team model used by Virginia Coordinated Care’s Complex Care Clinic and the effectiveness of that model from the perspective of the clinical team and patients served by the clinic.

Community Vital Signs: Integrating community data with primary care 

Principal Investigators: Winston Liaw, MD, MPH; Alex Krist, MD, MPH

Start Date: June 2015

Clinicians lack a road map for integrating public health and primary care. In this project, we will combine clinical data from primary care clinics with publicly available data about patients' communities (community vital signs). Following this integration, we aim to identify patients living in cold spots (resource poor communities), determine whether living in cold spots is associated with worse outcomes, and explore how practices could use community vital signs for population care.


It is the policy of the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health not to accept funding for its research program from the tobacco industry.