UW News

population health


July 31, 2020

Empathy and understanding: UW psychologists offer tips on relationships during the pandemic

University of Washington psychologists say there are ways to approach interactions with friends and loved ones that can provide a positive path forward and help maintain healthy relationships during the pandemic.


July 30, 2020

National Academies publishes guide to help public officials make sense of COVID-19 data

University of Washington professor Adrian Raftery is lead author on a National Academies guide to help officials interpret and understand different COVID-19 statistics and data sources as they make decisions about opening and closing schools, businesses and community facilities.


July 29, 2020

Expert FAQ: Wildfires in the Pacific Northwest during the COVID-19 pandemic

forest on fire

The University of Washington has a long history of leading research into the impacts of wildfires from an ecological and health perspective. We worked with two experts to answer some of the most frequently asked questions about wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, including the ways that the pandemic is increasing our community’s vulnerability to extreme wildfire events in the region.


June 29, 2020

Trouble paying medical bills can lead to longer episodes of homelessness, new study shows

Empty hospital room

A new University of Washington study of people experiencing homelessness in King County finds that unpaid medical bills were their primary source of debt, and that debt extended their period of homelessness by an average of two years.


June 25, 2020

Sleep improving for university students under stay-at-home orders

an alarm clock at night

In a study published June 10 in Current Biology, a team from the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Washington reports that a group of students at CU Boulder generally got more sleep after widespread stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines were put into place in mid-March.


June 24, 2020

Study asks Washington state residents to describe food security and access during pandemic, economic downturn

a plate, knife and fork

A new online survey for Washington state residents has launched to gather data on how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic downturn have affected food access and economic security. The Washington State Food Security Survey, which went live June 18 and runs through July 31, is open to all Washington state residents aged 18 or over.


Videos: If you fish the Duwamish in Seattle, better eat the salmon — Comer el salmón, Ăn cá hồi, បរិភោគត្រីសាម៉ុង — and here’s how

It could take another generation before resident fish in the heavily polluted Lower Duwamish Waterway in Seattle will be safe to eat. Yet many fishers from a wide range of cultural backgrounds continue to fish the 5-mile stretch of river for fun, cultural connections and food even as cleanup of this designated Superfund site continues….


June 23, 2020

75% of US workers can’t work exclusively from home, face greater risks during pandemic

Barista making latte

About three-quarters of U.S. workers, or 108 million people, are in jobs that cannot be done from home during a pandemic, putting these workers at increased risk of exposure to disease. This majority of workers are also at higher risk for other job disruptions such as layoffs, furloughs or hours reductions, a University of Washington…


June 22, 2020

Amid pandemic, UW School of Social Work’s Project Connect provides opportunities for students to learn, serve community

Two boys lying on floor, looking at tablet screen

The UW School of Social Work’s Project Connect supports 15 different research and outreach endeavors, all oriented specifically around community needs during COVID-19.


June 17, 2020

Is the air getting cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic?

San Francisco at sunset

Using air quality data from U.S. Environmental Protection Agency monitors across the U.S., a UW-led team looked for changes in two common pollutants over the course of 2020.


June 8, 2020

Early childhood intervention programs may reap benefits across generations

Young boy coloring at a classroom table

New research from a decades-long study by the University of Washington and the University of Colorado shows long-term benefits from a program to prevent problem behaviors in children.


June 4, 2020

UW guidelines helping to ramp up research safely during COVID-19

A person speaking at a lecturn

Mary Lidstrom, vice provost for research at the University of Washington, talks about the evolving picture of research at the UW in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.


May 29, 2020

Researchers use brain imaging to demonstrate weaker neural suppression in individuals with autism

an image of a person's eye

In a paper published May 29 in Nature Communications, a team of scientists at the University of Washington, the University of Minnesota and the Johns Hopkins University reports that differences in visual motion perception in autism spectrum disorder are accompanied by weaker neural “suppression” in the visual cortex of the brain, which may help scientists understand sensory hypersensitivity in people with ASD.


UW launches online training for contact tracing to help fight COVID-19

Image of video screen

As businesses and public spaces reopen across the nation, the old-school public health detective work known as contact tracing is becoming a major component of the battle to contain the novel coronavirus that causes the deadly COVID-19 disease. It’s an investigative strategy long used for finding and informing people exposed to contagious diseases, such as…


May 27, 2020

UW experts on challenges to worker safety in meat processing industry

Meat processing plants face challenges in keeping workers safe during the pandemic. Carrie Freshour, a UW assistant professor of geography, and Marissa Baker, an assistant professor in the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and an expert on worker safety related to infectious diseases, provides comments on what the industry can do to protect workers.


May 22, 2020

Q&A: UW’s Teresa Ward talks us through sleep troubles during the COVID-19 pandemic

Panda sleeping on stump

A UW sleep expert sat down with UW News to provide some perspective on sleep during the pandemic, and what we can do to help ourselves and our families get through this time a little more well-rested.


May 18, 2020

COVID-19: UW study reports ‘staggering’ death toll in US among those infected who show symptoms

COVID-19 is a lot more deadly than the flu, according to a new study by the University of Washington published May 7 in the journal Health Affairs. The study’s results also project a grim future if the U.S. doesn’t put up a strong fight against the spread of the virus.


May 6, 2020

UW experts on understanding ‘quarantine fatigue’ and protecting workers

painted close sign

As the push to relax social and economic restrictions for combating the pandemic gain traction, we need to understand personal motives behind what many experts consider a dangerous rush to “reopen” and how to protect workers most at risk when communities do “go back to work.” Three UW experts weigh in.


April 28, 2020

Agricultural pickers in US to see unsafely hot workdays double by 2050

pickers in field

A new study looks at temperature increases in counties across the United States where crops are grown. It also looks at different strategies the industry could adopt to protect workers’ health.


April 27, 2020

UW epidemiology graduate students participating in state’s surge response to COVID-19 pandemic

A little after 10 p.m. on March 19, University of Washington graduate students Anne Massey and David Coomes happened to be online when they received an email that would give them an unexpected role in Washington’s rapidly evolving response to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus. As context, the World Health Organization had just declared the…


April 22, 2020

A contact-tracing app that helps public health agencies and doesn’t compromise your privacy

A person on a train looking at their phone. Other people are on their phones behind that person.

Researchers from the University of Washington and UW Medicine, along with volunteers from Microsoft, have developed a new contact-tracing app called CovidSafe.


April 16, 2020

UW nursing students join frontline efforts to battle COVID-19, meet public health needs

Students working on computers

With their education forced online and in-person clinical practice opportunities canceled by the novel coronavirus pandemic, University of Washington nursing students eager to use their skills and knowledge during this historic challenge to human health and well-being had few options. UW School of Nursing and Public Health-Seattle & King County announce partnership. Unwilling to accept…


April 13, 2020

UW team illustrates the adverse impact of visiting ‘just one friend’ during COVID-19 lockdown

After weeks of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, people of all ages may be asking: What could be the harm of visiting just one friend? Unfortunately, it could potentially undo the goal of social distancing, which is to give the COVID-19 virus fewer opportunities to spread. According to a website set up by researchers…


April 10, 2020

US approaching peak of ‘active’ COVID-19 cases, strain on medical resources, new modeling shows

A new data-driven mathematical model of the coronavirus pandemic predicts that the United States will peak in the number of “active” COVID-19 cases on or around April 20, marking a critical milestone on the demand for medical resources.


Local response to UW social isolation study leads to national effort

person walking alone

With most states now under stay-at-home orders, UW researchers have launched a national study to test whether a motivational, mental health tip each day changes participants’ behavior during social distancing, and improves their mental and relational health.


Large majority of state’s heroin users want to reduce use; syringe programs helping during COVID-19 crisis

Man preparing for outreach

A new survey of people who inject illicit drugs in the state of Washington yields positive and important findings for policy makers as the world struggles to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, said authors of the survey by the University of Washington and Public Health-Seattle & King County. Most people – 82% ­– who inject…


March 26, 2020

UW researcher identifies workers most harmed by economic disruption due to COVID-19

A closed sign

Only about 25% of the U.S. workforce — some 35.6 million people — are in jobs that can easily be done at home, a University of Washington researcher has determined, as these are the positions in which using a computer is important but interacting with the public is not. These jobs are typically in highly-paid…


March 6, 2020

Millions of US workers at risk of infections on the job, UW researchers calculate, emphasizing need to protect against COVID-19

Artwork of security agent and passenger

A University of Washington researcher calculates that 14.4 million workers face exposure to infection once a week and 26.7 million at least once a month in the workplace, pointing to an important population needing protection as the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, continues to break out across the U.S. Marissa Baker, an assistant professor in the…


February 26, 2020

Wildness in urban parks important for human well-being

beach in seattle

A new University of Washington study has found that not all forms of nature are created equal when considering benefits to people’s well-being. Experiencing wildness, specifically, is particularly important for physical and mental health.


February 10, 2020

Increases in minimum wage may not have anticipated positive health effects, study shows

Coins spilled from jar

  In the decade-long absence of federal action, many states, counties and cities have increased minimum wages to help improve the lives of workers. While political debate over these efforts has long been contentious, scientific research on the health effects of raising the minimum wage is relatively new. Some studies have found higher minimum wages…


February 7, 2020

Interactive map shows worldwide spread of coronavirus

heatmap of China showing worldwide spread of coronavirus

University of Washington geographer Bo Zhao has created an interactive map, updated every few hours, of coronavirus cases around the world.


February 4, 2020

First-of-its-kind hydrogel platform enables on-demand production of medicines and chemicals

a water-based gel that is used in molecular biology research

A team of chemical engineers has developed a new way to produce medicines and chemicals and preserve them using portable “biofactories” embedded in water-based gels known as hydrogels. The approach could help people in remote villages or on military missions, where the absence of pharmacies, doctor’s offices or even basic refrigeration makes it hard to…


January 22, 2020

Community-based counselors help mitigate grief, stress among children orphaned in East Africa

Group of people pose outside a building.

The University of Washington led a clinical trial involving more than 600 children in Kenya and Tanzania, in which community members were trained to deliver mental health treatment, showed improvement in participants’ trauma-related symptoms up to a year after receiving therapy.


January 21, 2020

A foundation for ‘safe motherhood’ created with and for the Somali community

On a recent Saturday evening, a dozen women gathered around a table at a community room in the White Center neighborhood of Seattle, settling in with snacks and conversation. The evening’s program would be more education than entertainment, an opportunity to discuss topics so sensitive that, without the group of women assembled that night, might…


Mosquitoes are drawn to flowers as much as people — and now scientists know why

Despite their reputation as blood-suckers, mosquitoes actually spend most of their time drinking nectar from flowers. Scientists have identified the chemical cues in flowers that stimulate mosquitoes’ sense of smell and draw them in. Their findings show how cues from flowers can stimulate the mosquito brain as much as a warm-blooded host — information that could help develop less toxic repellents and better traps.


December 4, 2019

Warmer temperatures will increase arsenic levels in rice, study shows

closeup of rice grains on rice plants

UW researchers have found that warmer temperatures, at levels expected under most climate change projections, can lead to higher concentrations of arsenic in rice grains.


December 3, 2019

Communities around Sea-Tac Airport exposed to a unique mix of air pollution associated with aircraft

Communities underneath and downwind of jets landing at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are exposed to a type of ultrafine particle pollution that is distinctly associated with aircraft, according to a new University of Washington study, the first to identify the unique signature of aircraft emissions in the state of Washington. The finding comes from the two-year…


November 20, 2019

Emissions from electricity generation lead to disproportionate number of premature deaths for some racial groups

A coal power plant in West Virginia.

UW researchers have found that air pollution from electricity generation emissions in 2014 led to about 16,000 premature deaths in the continental U.S. In many states, the majority of the health impacts came from emissions originating in other states.


October 28, 2019

Precision mapping with satellite, drone photos could help predict infections of a widespread tropical disease

overview of river in senegal

A team led by the University of Washington and Stanford University has discovered clues in the environment that help identify transmission hotspots for schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease that is second only to malaria in its global health impact.


July 18, 2019

Scientists discover how the mosquito brain integrates diverse sensory cues to locate a host to bite

A close-up image of a mosquito

A team, led by researchers at the University of Washington, has discovered how the female mosquito brain integrates visual and olfactory signals to identify, track and hone in on a potential host for her next blood meal: After the mosquito’s olfactory system detects certain chemical cues, the mosquito uses her visual system to scan her surroundings for certain shapes and fly toward them, presumably associating those shapes with potential hosts.



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