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What is Health and Human Development?

Diverse fields of study that share one
common goal: enriching the lives of others.

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Dennis Scanlon



The College of Health and Human Development supports seven different world-class research centers. One of those centers is the Center for Health Care and Policy Research (CHCPR).

The mission of CHCPR is to create and disseminate new scientific knowledge that will help private and public decision-makers to develop cost-effective services and programs that improve people’s health.

“Health and health care in the United States is heavily influenced by federal and state policy decisions, such as Medicare, Medicaid, drug and device approval and insurance requirements,” said Center Director Dennis Scanlon. “CHCPR specializes in understanding how policy impacts health, and its faculty and research work to study the impact of policy on health outcomes and to understand how policy can best be shaped to maximize the health of populations and the value for dollars spent.”

CHCPR works with a wide variety of clients with different needs and purposes, such as funding agencies or health care organizations.

An example of a funding agency is The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which funded a ten year multimillion dollar independent evaluation of the Aligning Forces for Quality initiative, an effort to improve the overall quality of health care, reduce racial and ethnic disparities and provide models for national reform.

“Through our work with health system evaluations, CHCPR has built relationships with organizations that promote and support health care improvement at the national and local levels,” said Scanlon.



Examples of such organizations include the Network for Regional Healthcare Improvement and their member organizations, such as Washington Health Alliance, Wisconsin Collaborative for Healthcare Quality, The Health Collaborative and Oregon Health Care Quality Corporation.

Other clients of CHCPR are Penn State faculty members, researchers, and students who have research objectives consistent with CHCPR’s mission and that seek funding to support these research efforts.

“We provide real-world learning opportunities for student researchers interested in learning more about health services research,” said Scanlon. “Some of our current collaborations include students, faculty and researchers from health policy and administration, sociology, dermatology, public health sciences, nutritional sciences, nursing, biobehavioral health and the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center.”

CHCPR also works with organizations in Pennsylvania on programs such as the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative and PA Employment Benefit Trust Fund. It also collaborates with Pennsylvania state government offices such as the Office of Rural Health, Department of Health, and State Medicaid.

Additionally, CHCPR connects with other institutions of higher education.

“Many of our projects involve partnering with researchers at other universities,” said Scanlon. “We continue to work hard to build collaborative working relationships to promote health services research.”

Some examples of current university partnerships include Boston College, George Washington University, Medical University of South Carolina, Northwestern University, and the University of Minnesota. Previously CHCPR worked with Harvard University, University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

One of CHCPR’s main initiatives is to help their clients through every aspect of their project.

“CHCPR helps researchers from conceptualizing a project through the actual proposal submission process,” said Dora Hunter, research project manager for CHCPR. “We aid faculty and students in finding appropriate funding and provide support in developing proposal timelines, creating budgets and preparing proposal content.”

Project managers oversee the daily operations of research, including managing qualitative and quantitative research design, implementation and analysis; developing and overseeing project timelines; ensuring deliverables are produced on schedule and within budget; building relationships with project stakeholders; monitoring team progress and providing regular updates; and providing expertise in dissemination of findings to help researchers and projects gain recognition and make an impact on both policy and practice in health services.

CHCPR also features a regular colloquium, which is a joint effort between CHCPR and the Department of Health Policy and Administration.

“Each semester we bring in three to five researchers from various health-related disciplines to speak about current topics and issues in health services research,” said Scanlon. “The colloquium is open to everyone and remote participation is available via Adobe Connect.”

Learn more about CHCPR