Public Health and Prevention Research

The health challenges we as a society face are multi-faceted and complex, often involving multiple levels—individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and policy. The PPC conducts research investigating the social determinants of health, seeking to understand how they interact to impact access to health services, health needs of special populations, health behavior, and health outcomes. Population-based studies include the Iowa Child and Family Household Health Survey (IHHS), and the evaluation of Iowa’s Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP). The health and well-being of mothers and children is also an area of emphasis in PPC health services research. Studies address issues such as childhood obesity and preventive dental visits for preschool-ages children enrolled in Medicaid.

Understanding the intersection of behavior and policy is key to crafting the best solutions to today’s health challenges. Although policy can be a mechanism for influencing behavior, policy change alone may not be enough. In this area of study, we focus on (1) how policy changes impact behavior (2) how policy is implemented at the local level, and (3) how best to influence behavior when policy already exists to encourage it. Our research allows for faculty and staff involvement from various disciplines, including nursing, dentistry, public health and nutrition science. The direct involvement of policy makers and employees from the state department of public health lends the research a salience and relevance that would otherwise be lacking.