University of Illinois Chicago Policy, Practice and Prevention Research Center

Populations of Focus: children, school-aged children

Topic Areas: adolescent health, nutrition, physical activity, high-risk health behaviors

Introduction, Mission, and Vision

UIC P3RC builds capacity, evidence, and leadership to create policy, systems, and environmental changes to improve population health and health equity.

UIC P3RC builds capacity, evidence, and leadership to create policy, systems, and environmental changes to improve population health and health equity.

The Policy, Practice and Prevention Research Center (P3RC) at the University of Illinois Chicago’s (UIC) School of Public Health is one of 26 Prevention Research Centers (PRCs) supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the 2019–2024 funding cycle. Each PRC is funded to establish and maintain their center and to conduct a core research project. PRCs may receive supplemental funding to conduct additional research projects and activities.

P3RC’s mission focuses on improvements in population health and advancements in health equity through:

  • Using evidence to promote policy, practice, systems, and environmental change.
  • Working with partners to build capacity to identify and understand root causes of inequities.
  • Supporting leaders to collectively advance policies and practices that improve population health and health equity.

“There needs to be a timely exchange between on-the-ground practitioners—who are often in the best position to lead or promote systems-level change in their communities—and the researchers studying interventions and analyzing policy,” said Christina Welter, DrPH, MPH, associate director for P3RC. “Practitioners also need more workforce development to help increase their readiness and capacity to use and build evidence in what they are doing.”

Core Research

Each PRC uses a community-engaged approach to conduct one primary applied public health prevention research project called a core research project. Project activities include design, development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination. PRCs use at least 50% of their CDC funding to conduct the project in partnership with communities.

Healthy CPS Network Initiative

P3RC is partnering with the Office of Student Health and Wellness (OSHW) in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) for its core research project for the 2019–2024 funding cycle. The goal of the project is to establish and test the impact of having a Healthy CPS Network Specialist assigned to support a CPS regional network of schools. CPS is the third largest public school districts in the country and one of the most diverse.

For this project, the specialist is assigned to one school network to provide tailored technical assistance and support to help the schools implement more than 50 federal, state, and district policies that are directly aligned with CDC’s Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child model. P3RC researchers will review processes, outcomes, and impact evaluations of the specialist with the goal of documenting improvements in school and student health services that can be implemented across the CPS system.

Additional Research

PRCs may receive supplemental funding to work on additional research projects each funding cycle. These Special Interest Projects (SIPs) focus on a variety of health topics or gaps in scientific evidence. PRCs can also conduct additional research as part of SIP Thematic Research Networks, which are groups of PRCs working together on related health topics.

Identifying Optimal Messages and Messengers for Community-Level Vaccine Conversations in Rural and Urban Settings

During the COVID-19 pandemic, public health professionals found that using trusted messengers in communities with low vaccine uptake was effective in reaching and increasing vaccination among individuals who were unvaccinated or not up to date on their vaccines.

Working with trained employees in community-based organizations and local health departments, UIC P3RC will investigate the factors that produce effective messages and trusted messengers in both rural and urban communities.

Dementia Risk Reduction Research Network – Collaborating Center

The rise of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) have become a worldwide public health crisis. Limited ADRD prevention and treatment options are available, but they are often not accessible to some community members.

As part of the Dementia Risk Reduction Research Network, P3RC will adapt the BAILAMOSTM dance program and ¡En Forma y Fuerte!, for remote delivery among older Latinos to reduce the risk for ADRD and improve quality of life for persons with symptoms of cognitive decline.

PRC Vaccine Confidence Network (PRC VCN)

In April 2021, CDC funded a 12-month award to all 26 PRCs to form the PRC VCN in support of the agency’s Vaccinate with Confidence strategy for COVID-19. As part of this network, the P3RC is examining vaccine hesitancy to find ways to promote vaccine confidence, increase vaccine uptake, and reduce disparities among African American, Hispanic, Orthodox Jewish, and rural populations. The goal is to reduce the incidence of COVID-19 in the United States.

P3RC’s strategy is to engage members from different affected communities to help shape research questions, collect and analyze data, and provide best practices on how to distribute study results. It hopes to strengthen the capacity of community-based organizations and public health departments through town halls, focus groups, surveys, community assessments, and environmental scans.

Improving Cancer Survival and Reducing Treatment Variations with Protocols for Emergency Care (ICARE)

This SIP study seeks to improve outcomes for cancer survivors who receive care in emergency departments (EDs). It also seeks to reduce health disparities associated with decreased survivorship because of lack of compliance with post-cancer surveillance recommendations and guidelines. This project will use evidence-based strategies to assess the management of cancer patients seeking care in EDs. It will also place cancer navigators in EDs and open a new UI Health Cancer Survivorship clinic. The goal is to create a model of care that will be portable to other EDs in order to improve quality of life and overall care for cancer survivors.


Physical Activity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (PAPREN)

As the Coordinating Center, P3RC co-leads this network with the UMass Worcester Prevention Research Center. Currently, P3RC is leading an applied evaluation project to study changes in pedestrian-oriented zoning and land use policies over time across 2,300 US municipalities and counties. This project will also study the effect of zoning changes on recreational physical activity and sedentary behavior, mode of commuting to work, and pedestrian fatalities.

Contact Information

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Principal Investigator:

UIC Policy, Practice and Prevention Research Center logo

Lisa M. Powell, PhD

Deputy Director:

Amber Uskali, MPH


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