Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Prevention Research Centers

Stories and highlights of notable accomplishments

The PRC Program’s grantees conduct research that contributes to improved community and population health. The research includes new models for preventing chronic disease and other public health problems. Stories and highlights of notable accomplishments are reviewed for one or more for the following:

  • Changes in policy, systems or environments
  • Offers scalability and replicability for other populations
  • Expands the evidence base of public health priority areas (including the National Prevention Strategy, Healthy People 2020, CDC Winnable Battles, or the NCCDPHP Domains)
  • Impacts the health of the population or community
  • Results in measurable changes in practices or reach
  • Documents behavior, practice or health outcomes in population(s)
  • Contributes to health equity and/or reduces health disparities
  • Engages community in implementation
  • Provides economic evidence for public health decision making
  • Improves scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice


Program Helps Older Adults Manage Depression
University of Washington: Health Promotion Research Center

Project Name: Program to Encourage Active, Rewarding Lives for Seniors 
Exercise Program for Older Adults Improves Health and Catches on Around the Country
University of Washington: Health Promotion Research Center

Project Name: EnhanceFitness  Texas A&M University PRC researchers evaluated the implementation and dissemination of a fall prevention program called A Matter of Balance/Volunteer Lay Leader (AMB/VLL) in Texas over the course of two years. The PRC partnered with the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging to train their local affiliates to implement the program. AMB/VLL program participants attend eight group sessions that teach them to view falls as preventable, change their environment to reduce fall hazards, and engage in physical activity to increase their strength and balance. From 2007—2009, PRC researchers found that the Texas Association of Area Agencies on Aging certified 98 master trainers and 402 lay leaders to deliver the program. Researchers also determined that the program reached more than 3,000 older Texans, including residents in 236 of 254 counties in Texas. Participants reported increased physically active days, increased confidence in preventing falls, fewer falls, and decreased number of days falls kept them from activities of daily living. This was the first comprehensive evaluation of the Texas AMB/VLL program. This evaluation will aide in disseminating the program in Texas and other states. Read “Implementing and Disseminating an Evidence-Based Program to Prevent Falls in Older Adults, Texas, 2007-2009," about the work, published in the November 2010 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease.

For more information see: Aging


Researchers from the University of Kentucky PRC developed and tested a DVD titled “1-2-3 Pap” that encourages Appalachian women to complete the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine series. The 3-dose HPV vaccine series is a primary strategy to prevent cervical cancer and should be completed within 6 months. Women viewed the 13-minute video on individual laptops using headphones. The women who watched the DVD were 2.44 times more likely to complete the series than the women who received standard care. This model has the potential to be adapted and repeated in other underserved areas with high rates of cervical cancer.

Read an article about the work, published in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Communication.

Community Health Workers

Using a community health worker model, the University of South Florida PRC improved the use of protective eyewear among citrus harvesters. Researchers trained full-time citrus workers to disseminate eye safety information and encourage the wearing of safety glasses among other workers in the citrus groves. Workers who had 1 to 2 years of experience and who received help from a peer worker were significantly more likely to use safety glasses than were other citrus workers. This model may be applicable to injury prevention in similar agricultural settings.

Access an abstract of an article about the research results (through PubMed).

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Studying the Health Needs of Deaf Americans
PRC investigators and their community partners are adapting standard scientific tools to study the public health needs of the deaf population in Rochester, NY.


Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, MD Highlights PRC Epilepsy Research
PRC’s Managing Epilepsy Well Network and three epilepsy self-management programs developed and tested by PRCs are mentioned in Dr. Koh’s interview with Neurology Reviews.

PRC Online Health Program, WebEase©, on the Leading Edge of Technology
The Emory PRC creates the first-ever evidence-based Internet program for epilepsy self-management, WebEase. The program is now available online from the Epilepsy Foundation website, and a mobile-friendly version of the program is under development.

A Promising Distance-Delivered Intervention for Depression Among People with Epilepsy
Emory University: Prevention Research Center
Project Name: Using Practice and Learning to Increase Favorable Thoughts

People with Epilepsy Benefit from PEARLS, a Home-based Depression Intervention
University of Washington: Health Promotion Research Center
Project Name: Program to Encourage Active Rewarding Lives (PEARLS)

HIV Prevention, Sexual Health, and Teen Pregnancy

Lowering the Teen Birth Rate in Texas
The Houston PRC is working with its neighbors to prevent teen pregnancy—one of CDC's six Winnable Battles. Learn how the center equips communities for success.

Study in Malawi Finds Drug Regimens Effective in Preventing HIV Transmission Through Breast Milk
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention
Project Name: Breastfeeding, Antiretrovirals, and Nutrition (BAN) Study

Work Site Parenting Program Promotes Communication about Sexual Health between Parents and their Adolescents
University of California at Los Angeles: UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion
Project Name: Talking Parents, Healthy Teens 

Middle School Program May Help Teens Delay Sexual Behavior 
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston: University of Texas Prevention Research Center
Project Name: It's Your Game: Keep It Real 

Research conducted through the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill PRC found that giving antiretroviral drugs to HIV-infected breastfeeding mothers in sub-Saharan Africa or giving an HIV-fighting syrup to their babies are both effective. In part because of these results, the World Health Organization recommended that HIV prevention guidelines for breastfeeding HIV-infected mothers, who were still in the early stages of HIV infection, be modified to offer them a choice of approaches.

Access an abstract of an article about the research results published (through PubMed).

Update June 2011: A scientific article reporting the research results and published in the New England Journal of Medicine received the 2011 Charles C. Shepard Science Award in the category of prevention and control. This achievement exemplifies what can be achieved through the PRC model—particularly in how it enables CDC researchers to work closely with external researchers.

The Dartmouth College PRC, working with CDC’s Division of Reproductive Health and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG), released Smoking Cessation for Pregnancy and Beyond—an interactive web-based training for health care professionals (including physicians, physician assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, certified health educators, pharmacists, and students of the health professions). After completing the training, health care providers are able to apply best practice approaches for smoking cessation among women who are pregnant or in their child-bearing years. The approaches reflect current clinical recommendations from the U.S. Public Health Service and ACOG. The training is accredited for up to 4 hours of continuing education credits. The ACOG and other professional organizations are promoting the training among their constituents.Visit the Smoking Cessation for Pregnancy and Beyond website.

The Teen Years Explained, written by the Johns Hopkins University PRC and released in 2010, describes state-of-the-art knowledge about cognitive development throughout the teen years and how it influences risk assessment, sexual behavior, identity formation, and other dimensions of individual growth. A webinar promoting the book attracted attendees from around the country representing state and local health departments, nonprofit organizations, and federal agencies. The book, intended for public health practitioners, parents, and anyone working with adolescents, is available for purchase online. More than 11,000 copies of the book are already in use.  A free downloadable PDF of the book is available on the PRC’s website.

Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity

Body & Soul: Churches Impact Their Members’ Food Choices

The Body & Soul Program, which has been developed, tested, and supported by several PRCs, incorporates education, church events, and peer counseling to promote healthy food choices among participating African American church members.  

South Carolina Training course leads to improved outdoor space for physical activity

University of South Carolina PRC’s Physical Activity and Public Health Course trains health department professionals and post graduate researchers in exercise science and public health evidence-based practices. The experiential learning focus of the course has allowed course attendees to apply their knowledge and improve the physical activity environment in Bluffton, South Carolina and Park City, Utah, where the course is taught.  

New Orleans Named "Walk Friendly Community"

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center honors New Orleans, Louisiana, with a Bronze-Level Walk Friendly Community designation and notes the contributions of a coalition headed by the Tulane University PRC.   

White House Honors PRC Community Partner
A partner of the New Mexico PRC is among 13 physical activity proponents the White House calls "role models."    

EnhanceFitness (Video Presentation)
This three-minute video, produced in 2011, describes how a physical activity program developed by the University of Washington PRC for older adults is also helping people with arthritis. A promising PRC program helps schools and communities create supportive environments that promote healthy eating and regular physical activity.

Cultivating Healthy Connections
When a PRC evaluated a farming and marketing program for neighborhood youth, the researchers found many benefits rooted in community service.

Addressing Chronic Diseases In the Americas
What are the best ways to encourage people in Brazil, Mexico, the United States, and other countries to get enough physical activity to stay healthy? A multinational approach at two PRCs could be the key to success.

Reading, Writing, and Reducing Obesity
Planet Health program developed at Harvard Prevention Research Center combines physical activity and nutrition lessons with middle school academic subjects.

Changes in YMCA Afterschool Programs Increase Children's Physical
Activity and Healthy Food Options 

Harvard University: Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity
Project Name: YMCA-Harvard Afterschool Food and Fitness Project

Community-Based Program on the U.S.-Mexico Border Reduces Chronic Disease Risks 
University of Arizona: Arizona Prevention Research Center
Project Name: Pasos Adelante

Clinicians in Maine Learn to Address Overweight in Young Patients
Harvard University: Prevention Research Center on Nutrition and Physical Activity
Project Name: Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative

Elementary School Program Improves Children's Physical Activity and Diet
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston: University of Texas Prevention Research Center
Project Name: Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH)


Tulane University PRC researchers assessed the promising built environment strategy of creating bicycle lanes to increase physical activity in New Orleans. The city of New Orleans installed its very first on-street bicycle lanes in the spring of 2008, and gave the researchers the unique opportunity to observe and evaluate the before and after effects of this new infrastructure on bicycle ridership. Researchers collected data for 14 days, both 6 months before installing of the bike lanes and 6 months after. They found that the daily average number of adult riders significantly increased—the largest increase was among female adult riders, which more than doubled. The percentage of cyclists riding in the correct direction, with the flow of traffic, also increased from 73% to 82%. After completing the study, the researchers noted a limitation in their study, stating that they had not included observations of a comparison street in the area. In 2010, the researchers, wanting to follow up with more data to show the effect of bicycle lanes, conducted a similar study with the installation of new bicycle lanes on another street in New Orleans. This time, they observed and compared the number of bicycle riders on 3 parallel streets, 1 with bicycle lanes and 2 without, both before and 3 months after installing the bicycle lanes. The results again showed a significant increase in the overall number of people riding bicycles in the neighborhood—the number of riders more than tripled after the bicycle lanes were added. There was a decrease in ridership on the streets without the bicycle lanes, which suggests that some cyclists started using the dedicated bicycle lanes over the non-marked side streets. Researchers discovered that the total cost of the installation of the 2010 bike lanes was less than 1% of the total road resurfacing project. The results from these 2 studies suggest that bike lanes may be a low-cost way to positively affect physical activity and safer streets in diverse urban neighborhoods.

Read journal article abstracts of the first study and the follow-up study (through PubMed).

The Tulane University PRC is a member of and provided technical assistance and data analysis to the Healthy Food Retail Study Group, established by the Louisiana Senate in 2008. The center coordinated the study group and prepared the report that made recommendations for a Louisiana Healthy Food Retail Financing Program, enacted in 2009. The law provides grants and loans to supermarkets, farmers’ markets, and food retailers to make fresh fruits and vegetables available in low-income communities.

Read the policy brief, Healthy Food Retail Act, developed by the PRC.

Read the study group’s report.

The Saint Louis University (with Washington University) PRC worked with partners in Latin America to develop the Guide for Useful Interventions for Physical Activity (GUIA) by using a process similar to that of the U.S. Guide to Community Preventive Services. The team searched the scientific literature in English, Spanish, and Portuguese for effective physical activity interventions; recommended that school-based physical activity programs be offered to schoolchildren in the Americas; evaluated a citywide (Recife, Brazil) exercise program (Academia da Cidade); and continue to study ways to encourage physical activity among people of all ages. Project GUIA and related work in Latin America produced 20 peer-reviewed scientific publications, including a supplement to the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Building on this work, researchers from the San Diego PRC are now translating Academia da Cidade for U.S. Latino communities along the Mexico border in California. The San Diego researchers worked with public health partners in Mexico to produce a resource of interventions, comparable to GUIA, for the Mexican population and Latino communities in the United States.

Read the feature story about GUIA.

Harvard University PRC researchers found that through the use of the Out of School Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative (OSNAP), after-school programs can increase children’s access to drinking water during snack time. The PRC developed OSNAP to help programs that care for children outside of school improve nutrition and physical activity environments, policies, and practices. Ten programs participating in OSNAP took part in learning sessions focused on changing policies and environments to increase healthy eating, drinking, and physical activity opportunities. The researchers helped the programs set up standard operating procedures for water delivery, such as provision of cups to children at snack time, to increase the likelihood that changes would be maintained at the end of the study. Compared to ten control programs, at six-month follow-up the intervention sites served 3.6 more ounces of water on average per child per day, served water more frequently, and served 60.9 fewer beverage calories on average per snack per day. The researchers believe this study is the first group randomized control trial (RCT) of an intervention to increase the amount of water served in after-school programs. The changes made to the after-school snack menus of participating Boston Public Schools (BPS) are being adopted and implemented throughout the BPS system.

Read an abstract of an article describing the RCT, and visit the OSNAP website.

Partnering with the YMCA of the USA, the Harvard University PRC developed a curriculum, Food & Fun After School, to increase children's physical activity and healthy food options in after-school programs. The partners established standards for nutrition and physical activity in after-school settings. The standards were applied and their impact measured in seven YMCA child care programs in five states. Results included significant increases in weekly servings of fruits and vegetables and significant decreases in weekly servings of desserts, foods with added sugars, and foods with trans fats. In another study, the curriculum was implemented in 16 YMCA child care programs in four U.S. metropolitan areas (in the Pacific Northwest, Midwest, South, and East). Results included increased moderate and vigorous physical activity among children in programs where the standards were implemented. Related analyses of 32 YMCA after-school programs showed that unhealthy snacks could be replaced with low-priced fresh vegetables and whole grains without causing increases in price. The curriculum is available and free to anyone who is interested, including after-school program staff, parents, and children. In December 2011, the YMCA of the USA pledged that 85% of YMCAs would adopt by 2015 physical activity and healthy eating standards for early childhood and after-school programs similar to those of the YMCA-Harvard project.

View the Food & Fun After School materials. Read a journal article analyzing the price and nutrition of healthy versus less healthy snacks in after-school programs. Read article abstracts describing the program's impact on children's physical activity and healthy food access (through PubMed).

The PRC at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston was part of the research team that created CATCH—the Coordinated Approach to Child Health. This elementary school program is proven effective in producing diet and physical activity improvements that persist into early adolescence. Staff associated with the PRC’s CATCH Program educated policymakers in Texas about the potential of school health programs to influence children’s physical activity and nutrition. The efforts resulted in the development and passage of Senate Bill 19 in 2001 mandating that all elementary schools have a coordinated school health program by 2007. CATCH has been adopted by more than 1,500 schools in Texas and in schools in 7 other states.

Read the case study about CATCH.

In 2000, the Maine Bureau of Health and the Maine Center for Public Health joined with Harvard University’s PRC to create a new center focusing on the statewide problem of childhood obesity. Research results led to a statewide ban (2007) on advertising of unhealthy snacks on school property. The Harvard-Maine PRC subsequently sponsored statewide conferences that prompted advocacy on legislation requiring calorie labeling on menus of chain restaurants (20 or more establishments; signed into law June 17, 2009).

Read a summary of the law.


PRC Researchers Develop the First Inventory of Dissemination and Implementation Models
St. Louis University and Washington University in St. Louis PRC develops the first inventory and categorization of dissemination and implementation models for researchers.

Violence Prevention

Intervention Lessens the Effects of Violence among Urban School Children
University of California at Los Angeles: UCLA/RAND Center for Adolescent Health Promotion
Project Name: Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS)

Boys’ Health Risks May Be Reduced by Strengthening Father-Son Bonds
University of Michigan: Prevention Research Center
Project Name: Fathers and Sons Program