The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week awarded $3.75 million to the Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC) in the University of Washington’s School of Public Health to continue its research on healthy aging. HPRC is one of 26 Prevention Research Centers in the U.S., established by CDC in the 1980s to conduct community-based research that results in public health practice and policy. “Preventing chronic disease is critical to improving our nation’s well-being and avoiding excessive health care costs,” said Dr. Wayne Giles, director of CDC’s Division of Population Health. “Our investment in the Prevention Research Centers moves us closer to ensuring all Americans share the richness of good health.”
HPRC’s research over the years has resulted in programs such as EnhanceFitness, serving over 40,000 Americans through Senior Services, the YMCA, and other sponsoring organizations. EnhanceFitness was recently shown to not only improve physical health and social well-being, but also to save $945/year in medical costs per participant in the first year of enrollment. Such savings merit the attention of state and federal governments pressed to stretch health care dollars. Federal funds from CDC will support scaling up the EnhanceFitness program to serve thousands more in communities throughout the U.S.
HPRC director Dr. Jeff Harris will lead a new core research project during this funding cycle. “Older adults are much more likely to participate in a community-based program like EnhanceFitness if it is recommended by their physician or another health care provider,” said Dr. Harris. “So, we will be conducting research with physical therapists and primary care providers to learn about effective means of increasing recommendations to a program like EnhanceFitness.”