The research wing of the Center. It is organized around different levels of study – individuals, the Rush community area, the city of Chicago, and cross-city comparisons.

Current Research Projects

Research is central to the work of our Center. While there already exists a large evidence-base surrounding the social determinants of health, much remains to be known, particularly at the local level. Can the tools of public health, combined with medical care and public policy, be used to overcome one of Chicago’s most significant social problems – the simple fact that your zip code largely determines your life expectancy?

Focusing on this problem requires us to grapple with deep-rooted social issues, including housing segregation, economic inequality, and discrimination.

Drawing on our affiliated faculty’s respective disciplines, we use a wide range of research methods, with the goal of working together with community partners to improve health outcomes and eliminate health disparities that are avoidable, unnecessary, and unfair.

Our current projects include:

Voices of Health Equity in Chicago

The “Voices of Health Equity in Chicago” project seeks to document the biographies of researchers, clinicians, and activists that have devoted their careers to the cause of health equity. These types of narratives are rarely recorded in the academic literature, and when they exist at all, tend to focus only on the notable leaders in the field.

We started this project with the relatively simple goal of collecting and archiving qualitative stories of a wide spectrum of people working on different aspects of health equity in Chicago – over time, building an archive that might add a layer of complexity to the narratives we have in the academic literature.

Click here for details.

Health Equity in Local Communities

The Affordable Care Act requires not-for-profit hospitals like Rush to conduct periodic community health needs assessments (CHNAs). These are an important opportunity to generate meaningful community-level data, helping to prioritize interventions and shape public policy. Our work contributes to Rush’s CHNA requirements, exploring how the tools of social science can be utilized to generate community-level data.

Some of our recent work in this area:

Health Equity Across Chicago

Chicago experiences some of most significant health inequities in the United States. Our work in this area utilizes community-level indicators of population health and socio-economic status status, focusing on the link between a community’s level of hardship and its health.

Our work in this area is also historical – with one of our first projects consisting of a review of more than 100 years of research on health inequities in the city.

Some of our recent work in this area:

Health Equity Across US and Global Cities

There is a lot to learn from community health experiences in other places. Our work in this area is comparative, exploring health equity patterns in Chicago in comparison to New York, Los Angeles, and other cities in the United States.

Some of our recent work in this area: