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Research Project

Policy, Practice and Prevention Research Center (P3RC) at the University of Illinois Chicago

Principal Investigator
Powell, Lisa M.
Research Area(s)
Child & Adolescent Health
Community Engagement
Health Disparities
Health Policy
Funding Source
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention U48DP006392


The Policy, Practice and Prevention Research Center (P3RC) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) aims to improve public health, including school health, by addressing nutrition, physical activity (PA), and risky health behaviors, to reduce chronic disease risk and disparities in health behaviors and outcomes. Using practice-based interdisciplinary prevention research with diverse, multi-sectoral partners, we will undertake collaborative inquiry to understand, develop, implement, evaluate, disseminate, and translate evidence-based public health (EBPH) policy, program, systems and environmental (PPSE) approaches to improve population health. The P3RC works closely with our Illinois community partners to increase their readiness to adopt EBPH PPSE strategies by developing and sustaining capacity building initiatives including education and training programs and translating research findings into effective PPSE changes.

The unifying theme of the P3RC is building evidence, leadership and capacity for PPSE change aimed at improving health behaviors and reducing disparities and will be reflected in all Center activities. This theme is informed by our collaborative process of stakeholder input, partnership with community-based organizations, leveraging partners’ strengths and assets with our substantial academic expertise in relevant research areas and health disparities and creating a sustainable system for executing EBPH PPSE strategies in Illinois. The P3RC focuses on PPSE as its primary initiative approach, as addressing structural approaches to health and health disparities is likely to have increased population impact. P3RC proposed activities are guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prevention Research Center Program Logic Model and informed by conceptual frameworks for community engagement and translation. The P3RC’s Center activities consist of nine specific components that together address the following five overarching aims:

Aim 1: Engage researchers and community partners in expert multi-disciplinary applied health promotion and health prevention community-based research and public health practice aimed at improving health behaviors and reducing chronic disease through effective evidenced-based PPSE changes;

Aim 2: Effectively disseminate and translate evidence-based research findings into best practices and policies for sustainability and wide-spread scale-up;

Aim 3: Conduct community and student training, provide technical assistance, and serve as a resource at the local/state level to increase researcher, practitioner, stakeholder, and community capacity to conduct community-based health prevention research and PPSE evaluations and effectively implement evidence-based changes;

Aim 4: Communicate and support information sharing about programmatic, educational and scientific activities and products for a variety of audiences including the public health practice community; local, state and national health coalitions, advocacy groups, and policy-makers; prevention researchers; and, the public; and,

Aim 5: Identify and address racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and rural disparities in all aspects of the P3RC’s research, community engagement, training, communication, and translation activities to improve health behaviors and reduce related disease risks and poor health outcomes among disadvantaged populations.

The Healthy CPS Network Initiative, our evidence-based public health practice core research project will provide evidence on the effectiveness of a health-related Initiative aimed at improving student health and educational outcomes within the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child (WSCC) framework which focuses on health, education, and community factors that impact the “whole child” and children’s health and educational outcomes. The P3RC and Chicago Public Schools (CPS) will test the implementation and impact of a Healthy CPS WSCC Initiative that will place a Network-level WSCC Specialist (akin to a navigator) in CPS’ Geographic Network 5 (with significant health, educational and socioeconomic disparities) who will coordinate health-related services, programming, and instruction for all schools in the Network as compared to standard WSCC-related practice received by a comparison west-side Network (Network 3). The Specialist will focus on the WSCC-related health, nutrition, and activity elements and will complement existing Network-level social emotional learning, family and community engagement, and facilities specialists, who cover the other elements of WSCC. A process evaluation will assess the Initiative’s costs and implementation fidelity, facilitators, and challenges; an outcome and impact evaluation will evaluate effectiveness of the Initiative compared to CPS standard practice on improvements in:

1. Network- and school-level achievement of Healthy CPS strategies (chronic condition management, PE and health-related instruction requirements, healthy food access and PA initiatives, and access to direct health care services) and on achieving Healthy CPS certification (a designated certification based on achievement of the Healthy CPS strategies; no Network 5 schools have been certificated);

2. Network and school-level health service delivery, family/student Medicaid and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program enrollment, and student use of school health services; and,

3. Network-, school-, and student-level health (diet, PA, substance and tobacco use, and sexual behaviors) and academic (standardized test score alignment with state-level benchmarks) outcomes.