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Health Promotion Research Center            April 2016

   CDC PRCs 30th Anniversary

The CDC Prevention Research Centers (PRC) Program and HPRC celebrate their 30th anniversary this year!

The PRC network, which now includes 26 centers across the U.S., became a reality in 1986 after Congress authorized funding for academic health centers to conduct community-based public health research. The UW Health Promotion Research Center (HPRC) was part of the initial group of three PRCs funded in 1986. We are proud to have spent the past 30 years partnering with excellent community organizations to conduct research with results that have been translated into policy and public health practice.

Read more about the history of the PRC Program here.

EnhanceFitness older adult physical activity classesOne of our flagship programs and community highlights as a PRC is EnhanceFitness, a physical activity program for older adults. This example of research to practice—on a large scale—began in 1994 when HPRC collaborated with Group Health Cooperative and Sound Generations (then known as Senior Services) to develop and test a physical activity program for older adults, called Lifetime Fitness. Twenty years ago, there were very few activity programs that were evidence-based, low-cost, and tailored for older adults at all levels of fitness. Older adults in the U.S. then (and now) faced a number of health issues that research has shown can be improved by physical activity.

Fast-forward: the program, now called EnhanceFitness, as of March 2016 has had more than 60,000 participants, and is currently being offered at 590 sites in 39 states. Licensed nationally by Sound Generations, EnhanceFitness has been shown to significantly improve participants’ physical functioning, as well as improving depression and social functioning. In a 2013 report to Congress, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services described promising evidence that EnhanceFitness had driven down total healthcare costs, decreased unplanned hospitalizations, and decreased mortality rates for participating Medicare beneficiaries. 

Our current core research project, PT-REFER, aims to expand the reach of EnhanceFitness by developing tools that encourage physical therapists to refer their older adult patients to EnhanceFitness classes in their communities.

Throughout 2016, we will feature highlights of our 30 years building healthier communities together. We proudly celebrate with the PRC Program and salute our dedicated community partners.

Yael Yanich spotlight

In honor of HPRC's 30th anniversary, we shine the spotlight on HPRC Administrative Coordinator Yaël Yanich. Yaël is our longest-term staff member, having joined HPRC in 2000. We asked her to tell us about herself and her work.

Where did you grow up? Tell us a bit about your family and early life.

I was born in Jerusalem. My parents had emigrated to Israel from Detroit, and intended to live in Israel and raise a family. At the time, people from many diverse cultures were arriving in Israel. My father worked with new immigrants as a social worker. My mother was a talented artist, and helped out by illustrating health concepts for people who couldn’t read. She also painted and made sculpture. When I was a baby, our family left Israel because of my brother’s health issues, and settled in Miami.

I’d always been interested in music and visual art, and received a lot of encouragement from my mother. Unfortunately, she died from injuries sustained in a car accident shortly after I turned 15. After graduating from high school, I hitchhiked to Seattle and supported myself by making ceramic beads that I turned into jewelry. Eventually, I put myself through college. I graduated from Fairhaven College at Western Washington University with a degree in art and music, and a focus on communications and media.

What brought you to the UW and HPRC?

I started working at HPRC in 2000. My friend Sheryl Schwartz (then HPRC deputy director) mentioned to me that HPRC was looking for a staff person. This was when HPRC was on Canal Street in Fremont, and Jim LoGerfo was the director.

RAPA illustrationsWhat have been some of the highlights of your time here?

I’ve had the opportunity to work with many dedicated people who are committed to making the world a better place. I illustrated the Rapid Assessment of Physical Activity (RAPA), which has logged more than 10,000 downloads by researchers all over the world. I also provided the illustrations for the EnhanceFitness instructor manuals. 

What have you learned about the field of public health research?

The world of research moves glacially: slowly, but powerfully and with the potential to change the landscape permanently.

What do you like to do in your time away from work? What might surprise your co-workers?

glow_Link.pngI had my own art business in the ‘90s and travelled to New York and Philadelphia for wholesale shows. I still spend time in my studio, which is why I prefer not to work full-time. I work in many media: metal, glass, ceramic, weaving, illustration, and calligraphy in Hebrew and English. My most recent explorations have been with the medium of watercolor. I have a large garden, and garden year-round with cold-frames. I love to swim and do yoga. I enjoy reading books about neuroscience, and attend Feldenkrais classes regularly. I play guitar and piano, and love to jam with others. I’ve written four children’s books that I plan to upload to the web.

My parrot, Charlie, is now 32 years old. I’ve had him since he was two, so he’s been in my life for over 30 years.

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Save the Dates

Community Advisory Board meeting

Date: Friday, April 22
8:45 am to 12:00 pm

At: Tukwila Community Center Directions

Seminar: Health Information Management Needs and Practices of Older Adults

Date: Thursday, May 12
10:00 am to 11:00 am

Presenter: Anne Turner, UW Department of Health Services

Attend in person: HPRC conference room.
Get directions.

Guests are welcome to stay for an HPRC staff meeting immediately following the seminar.

Attend via webinarJoin here
Audio: 206-616-2663 or 1-866-495-7016 (Passcode: 288912)

Visit our website for notices of other upcoming seminars.


Clara Hill, first year MPH practicum student, joins HPRC for spring and summer quarter. She will be working on a new master training course for the PEARLS program.

We also welcome new CAB member Emily Inlow-Hood, Marketing Communications Manager for Washington Health Alliance.


We bid a fond farewell to research coordinator Laurie Kavanagh and wish her well in her new endeavors.

Recent Publications

An examination of the expected and experienced benefits among participants in Enhance®Fitness:

Kohn M, Belza B, Petrescu-Prahova M, Miyawaki CE. "Beyond Strength: Participant Perspectives on the Benefits of an Older Adult Exercise Program." Health Education & Behavior. 2015. Abstract

A presentation of the intervention design and baseline findings of the HealthLinks trial:

Hannon PA, Hammerback K, Allen CL, et al. "HealthLinks Randomized Controlled Trial: Design and Baseline Results." Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2016;48:1-11. [Epub ahead of print] Abstract

See all of our published articles here

In May 2016: Celebrate Older Americans Month

May 2016 Older Americans Month













Prevention Research Centers 30 years logo

HPRC is a CDC Prevention Research Center - celebrating 30 years of building healthier communities together.




Health Promotion Research Center is a research center at the University of Washington School of Public Health funded by the Prevention Research Centers Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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