UW News

Public Health


July 30, 2021

Food insecurity remains high and need for assistance dramatically up in Washington

Food bank scene

Washington residents continue to experience a dramatically higher level of food insecurity — from 10% before the COVID-19 pandemic to 27%, according to the latest University of Washington and Washington State University research on food insecurity and food assistance in the state. The study team also found that need for food assistance has continued to…


July 28, 2021

Scientist tests soil for hidden contaminants in community gardens

A garden plot at Renew Church garden in Lynnwood.

Soil, particularly in urban areas, can hold contaminants that are unhealthy for people who handle it or eat things grown in the ground. Chemicals left behind by vehicles, air pollution and heavy industry can show up in the ground and in plants. Melanie Malone, assistant professor in UW Bothell’s School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences investigates these contaminants and their prevalence in shared garden spaces.


July 23, 2021

Older workers needed for UW study on worker safety during COVID-19 pandemic

Restaurant server at table

Public health researchers have learned a lot about how the pandemic affected workers and exacerbated existing health disparities that exist in many communities. However, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the experience of workers deemed essential in the food industry and who were at higher risk of contracting COVID-19, such those working in…


July 9, 2021

Study model explores impact of police action on population health

A specific police action, an arrest or a shooting, has an immediate and direct effect on the individuals involved, but how far and wide do the reverberations of that action spread through the community? What are the health consequences for a specific, though not necessarily geographically defined, population? The authors of a new UW-led study…


June 15, 2021

Video: Mobile health van student volunteers collaborate in service to the community

Student volunteers look at medical supplies inside a van.

This summer a UW mobile health outreach van will hit the road, bringing some basic health care services to people without housing who might have a hard time getting to a doctor’s office.


Drug rebates for insurers tied to higher costs for patients, especially the uninsured

Federal agencies that regulate drug pricing and healthcare insurance are concerned that an industry practice of using rebates to lower drug costs for insurers has led to increases in list prices and out-of-pockets costs for patients. To investigate whether patients with or without insurance were paying more because of rebates to insurers, researchers led by…


May 24, 2021

Fast food, supermarkets, other aspects of built environments don’t play expected role in weight gain

People don’t gain or lose weight because they live near a fast-food restaurant or supermarket, according to a new study led by the University of Washington. And, living in a more “walkable,” dense neighborhood likely only has a small impact on weight. These “built-environment” amenities have been seen in past research as essential contributors to…


May 17, 2021

UW’s Dr. Catherine Karr: ‘Major chronic health problems facing children today’ linked to air pollution

Catherine Karr

With evidence of the health hazards facing children from air pollution growing, The American Academy of Pediatrics on Monday published a policy statement meant to bring those hazards to light and to encourage and direct policy to improve children’s health. Policy co-author Dr. Catherine Karr, a professor in the University of Washington’s School of Public…


May 14, 2021

$38M set of gifts from Ballmer Group to address behavioral health crisis aims to bolster workforce, resources across Washington through UW-led programs

big green trees frame an empty bench

The University of Washington today announced that the School of Social Work and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and the Behavioral Health Institute at Harborview Medical Center are part of a transformational $38 million set of gifts from Ballmer Group to support a broad, collaborative response to the state’s behavioral health crisis. The gifts aim to address the state of Washington’s serious workforce shortage in the community behavioral health system, in large part by supporting statewide education and training innovations at partner institutions developed through the University of Washington.


April 30, 2021

UW’s new Mobile Health & Outreach Van will serve community and student experience

People around medical van

Getting basic health care to medically underserved populations in Seattle, while providing real-world experience for students hoping to practice in a health care field, takes wheels. Now, through a student-led, interdisciplinary effort by health science departments at the University of Washington, those “wheels” — on the new UW Mobile Health & Outreach Van — are ready.


April 28, 2021

People of color hardest hit by air pollution from nearly all sources

A picture of power lines at sunset. Everything is hazy.

A new study from researchers at multiple universities, including the UW, shows that exposure disparities among people of color and white people are driven by nearly all, rather than only a few, emission source types.


April 20, 2021

How lessons from past emergencies could improve the pandemic response

bottle of hand sanitizer, gloves and a mask on a table

The federal government, in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, could learn from how the nation responded to Hurricane Katrina, 9/11 and the H1N1 swine flu, a new University of Washington study found.


April 13, 2021

Vaccines debate: ‘Escape variants’ of the coronavirus are a serious future threat

gloved hand holds vial of vaccine

With COVID-19 cases on the rise again in many parts of the country — including Washington state where three counties were pushed back to Phase 2 effective Friday — there’s a growing debate between continuing to give both doses of Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines close together, or giving them months apart in order to get…


April 7, 2021

Perinatal patients, nurses explain how hospital pandemic policies failed them

Pregnant person

With a lethal, airborne virus spreading fast, hospitals had to change how they treated patients and policies for how caregivers provided that treatment. But for maternity patients and nurses some of those changes had negative outcomes, according to a new University of Washington study. “We found that visitor restrictions and separation policies were harming families…


April 1, 2021

CDC, UW study finds significant vaccine distrust within incarcerated populations, increasing risks

Fewer than half of inmates in jails and prisons surveyed in a study by the CDC and University of Washington said they would accept a COVID-19 vaccine, while the majority either said they wanted to wait before getting the vaccine or would refuse one. “This is a population already at risk for COVID-19, and outbreaks…


March 19, 2021

‘A turning point’: UW Population Health Initiative’s pandemic grants changed how the university works

Rainier horizon

A year ago, seemingly overnight, streets emptied, shops boarded up, grocery shelves were cleared, schools closed and the University of Washington led universities nationwide in moving all instruction online. Nearly all of us disappeared inside, stunned and staring out at a world suddenly paralyzed by something we’d only seen in movies or read about in books:…


March 16, 2021

Relearning normalcy, focusing on the positive: UW psychologist on the vaccine phase of the pandemic

University of Washington psychology professor Jane Simoni discusses how COVID-19 vaccines are gradually spurring the return to normal life, and the role of positive public health messaging.


March 4, 2021

Video: UW students join the front lines of the vaccination effort

Woman in scrubs pats woman rolling up shirt sleeve

By the end of February, around 350 UW students had signed up to be volunteer vaccinators in clinics from Tacoma to Marysville.


February 25, 2021

Q&A: Race, medicine and the future power of genetic ancestry

Writing in the New England Journal of Medicine that they “do not believe that ignoring race will reduce health disparities” but rather that “such an approach is a form of naive ‘color blindness’ that is more likely to perpetuate and potentially exacerbate disparities,” five Black geneticists set out to explain the pitfalls of leaving race…


February 5, 2021

To counter health impacts of racism, UW School of Nursing establishing Center for Antiracism in Nursing

Systemic racism has for generations undermined the health of individuals and communities across America, a public health crisis that has made the pandemic even more deadly and destructive for people of color. Recognizing that nurses play a central role in and hold major responsibility for the health of individuals and communities hit hard by historic…


February 1, 2021

UW books in brief: African American political theory, philosophy and migration, data science for health

Notable recent books written or edited by UW faculty include an exploration of African American political theory, a book on philosophy and migration and a textbook on health data science.


January 31, 2021

Bleeding gums may be a sign you need more vitamin C in your diet

fruit orange

Current advice from the American Dental Association tells you that if your gums bleed, make sure you are brushing and flossing twice a day because it could be a sign of gingivitis, an early stage of periodontal disease. And that might be true. So if you are concerned, see your dentist. However, a new University…


January 28, 2021

UW installs strikingly unique public sculpture at new Hans Rosling Center for Population Health

Workers with sculpture

At nearly 7 feet tall, “The Seated IV” first graced the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s facade in September 2019 as part of a commission titled The NewOnes, will free Us. Four “Seated” sculptures by Wangechi Mutu were the first works to take up the positions on The Met’s facade since it was completed in 1902. On…


January 26, 2021

Anti-poverty policies can reduce reports of child neglect

parents with young child walking in a park

A University of Washington study analyzes how a state’s refundable Earned Income Tax Credit can lead to fewer reports of child neglect, by reducing the financial stress on families.


January 8, 2021

COVID-19 vaccines are ‘remarkable achievement,’ but soothing mistrust is necessary to end pandemic

Larry Corey

“Of course, we didn’t put Democrats in the vial; we didn’t put Republicans in the vial,” University of Washington’s Dr. Larry Corey writes in a recent COVID-19 Vaccine Matters blog jointly produced by Johns Hopkins University and the UW. While development of vaccines now being distributed to combat COVID-19, the deadly disease caused by the novel coronavirus, are…


December 28, 2020

In pandemic milestone, UW brings COVID-19 vaccines to frontline health care workers

The first scheduled to receive vaccinations were frontline personnel working with COVID-19 patients. In addition to patient-care staff in intensive care units, COVID acute care floors and emergency departments, the immediate list also included environmental services staff, as well as emergency medical responders in the community. Next in line are nursing home residents and their caregivers.


December 8, 2020

Round 2 of Washington study underway to determine food, economic insecurity during pandemic

Dinner setting on wood table

Understanding Washington residents’ access to food and their economic well-being – or lack of it – during the COVID-19 pandemic is vital for state and community partners to identify those needs and allocate resources effectively. To help accomplish this goal, the University of Washington, Washington State University and Tacoma Community College, along with input from…


Policies around pregnancy, birth during pandemic failing both patients and nurses

Molly Altman

As an experienced nurse midwife, whose scientific research focuses on respectful and equitable care during pregnancy and childbirth, the University of Washington’s Molly Altman has been studying pregnancy and childbirth during the pandemic alongside colleagues across the UW and in affected communities. While her work is being distilled into formal studies that will be submitted…


December 2, 2020

COVID-19 vaccines may not prevent spread of virus, so mask-wearing, other protections still critical

Larry Corey

Excitement and relief over news of vaccines that help prevent people from getting sick, winding up in the hospital or dying from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are warranted, says University of Washington’s Dr. Larry Corey. But, these messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines may not prevent people from getting infected or spreading the virus….


November 24, 2020

UW public health expert calls on state officials, citizens to defend and rebuild public health agencies

Betty Bekemeier

Even before the pandemic and disagreements over social restrictions recommended by public health officials across the state, public health agencies in Washington were struggling due to a lack of resources. In recent weeks, firings, resignations and death threats targeting local health officials has led to a staffing crisis in the agencies most responsible for local…


Four UW faculty members named AAAS fellows for 2020

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has named four University of Washington faculty members as AAAS Fellows, according to a Nov. 24 announcement from the organization. The four are part of a cohort of 489 new fellows for 2020, which were chosen by their peers for “their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications.”


November 2, 2020

Video: Free coronavirus testing for UW community open for more enrollment

preparing a COVID-19 test

The Husky Coronavirus Testing program, powered by the Seattle Flu Study, launched on Sept. 24 and now has more than 12,500 members of the UW community enrolled and has conducted more than 10,000 tests.


October 22, 2020

COVID-19: CDC advisory committee hones in on vaccine rollout recommendations

Vaccine and syringe

When a vaccine to fight COVID-19 has been approved by the FDA for distribution, it’s unlikely that at first there will be enough doses for everyone. Consequently, the United States will need an equitable and effective plan for who gets those first doses, how they get them and who’s next. Just as important, that plan…


UW seeks Latinos caring for relatives, friends with dementia to develop better training program

With Latinos 1.5 times more likely to have dementia than non-Latino whites, among other health disparities, researchers at the University of Washington are hoping to better understand Latino family caregivers and adapt the training available to those caregivers. To do that, the UW Department of Health Services is seeking to interview Latino caregivers for a…


October 21, 2020

Pandemic further isolating older adults, as senior services struggle to adapt

older man sitting on park bench with laptop

A new UW study of senior services in Washington during the COVID-19 pandemic reveals providers’ concerns about isolation, and worsening mental and physical health among older adults.


October 20, 2020

UW jumps two spots to No. 8 in US News Best Global Universities ranking

globe

The University of Washington moved up two spots to No. 8 on the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Global Universities rankings, released Tuesday. The UW maintained its No. 2 ranking among U.S. public institutions.


October 19, 2020

Conversation about suicide prevention leads to safe gun storage, study finds

visitors approach a booth with volunteers at a park

Research by Forefront Suicide Prevention at the University of Washington, from visits to 18 gun shows and other community events around Washington state last year, found that engaging people in a community-based setting, in an empathetic conversation focused on safety, resulted in more people locking up their firearms.


October 5, 2020

Women, workers of color filling most ‘high-hazard/low-reward’ jobs in Washington

When exploring data on Washington workers during the pandemic — demographics, working conditions, wages and benefits, and risks of exposure to disease — the authors of a new report found that women hold two-thirds of the jobs in the harshest category of work. “The big takeaway from our research,” said David West, a co-author of…


September 30, 2020

UW receives $1.5 million CDC grant to study handgun carrying among rural adolescents

With roughly 109 people dying every day and many others treated in emergency rooms from firearm-related injuries — which are the second leading cause of death among adolescents — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has, after decades, stepped in to fund critical firearm research. The CDC announced on Sept. 23 it would fund…


UW researchers driving around Seattle to track COVID-19 response over time

A panoramic view of a street corner. Cars and a pedestrian are labeled

UW researchers developed a project that scans the streets every few weeks to document how Seattle has reacted to the pandemic and what recovery looks like.



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