Our Mission

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The Illinois Prevention Research Center (PRC) supports with science community changes in policy and the environment to reduce chronic disease risk, especially in vulnerable communities.

To achieve this mission, the Illinois PRC engages communities, community agencies, small businesses, state and local governmental agencies, and other partners in interdisciplinary prevention research. Together, we develop, adapt, implement and evaluate policies and environmental factors to improve health behaviors related to nutrition, physical activity, and tobacco use.

Learn more about our research.

Increasing access to parks and physical activity

Illinois PRC’s applied public health prevention research project addresses a key CDC Winnable Battle focused on increasing access to and use of parks working with community stakeholders.

In the first phase of that project, we conduct a comprehensive, rigorous evaluation of the impact of Chicago Plays!, an initiative to renovate more than 300 playlots in the Chicago Park District over five years. Next, we apply our findings in the development of an intervention to help communities build effective coalitions for ongoing playlot renovations. We aim to increase local capacity for community collaborations while fostering park use and physical activity in parks. Learn more about this parks study.

To advance our mission of supporting policy and environmental change, the Illinois PRC is committed to community engagement, training, dissemination, evaluation, and a focus on reducing health disparities.

Engaging communities in research

We in the Illinois PRC engage our Chicago and statewide partners to conduct public health research and evaluation. We engage researchers and the community stakeholders in expert multidisciplinary applied health promotion and health prevention community-based research aimed at improving health behaviors and reducing chronic disease through effective evidence-based policy and environmental changes. Learn more about community engagement.

Training public health practitioners

The Illinois PRC improves public health practice through training and education. We provide training and technical assistance to public health practitioners locally and statewide. We also train and mentors graduate students and new post-doctoral investigators in the conduct of community-based health prevention research. We aim to increase the capacity of researchers, public health stakeholders, and communities to collaborate in such research and undertake policy, program, and environmental evaluations. Learn more about our training.

Disseminating scientific findings

We translate and disseminate evidence-based research findings into best practices and policies locally, statewide and nationally. The center supports a communication infrastructure to share programmatic, educational and scientific information with a variety of audiences, including the public health practice community; local and state health coalitions and advocacy groups; local, state, and national policymakers; prevention researchers; and, the public.

Learn more about our dissemination efforts and communications.

Evaluating policy and environmental changes

We evaluate policy and environmental approaches to promote healthy behaviors and prevent disease, especially among African American and Latino, low-income, and rural populations.

We also conduct rigorous evaluations of all Illinois PRC components and report findings. We use this information to improve our programs and increase our contributions to public health in Illinois. Learn more about our evaluation capacity.

Focus on reducing health disparities

We identify and address racial or ethnic, socioeconomic, and rural disparities in all aspects of the center’s research, community engagement, training, communication, and evaluation to improve health behaviors and reduce related disease risks and outcomes among disadvantaged populations.

Learn about our research, which addresses health disparities in communities at high risk for chronic disease and premature death.