PCHSRF Scholar Spotlight

April 2020

The Primary Care and Health Services Research Fellowship (PCHSRF) would like to highlight the work of one of our three scholars in the second year of the program: Joshua Williams, MD, FAAP

Dr. Williams is a general pediatrician in the Wellington Webb Pediatric Clinic at Denver Health Medical Center and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus.  As a general pediatrician at Denver Health, he brings to the fellowship a passion for studying parent attitudes toward vaccines, including barriers to vaccination in safety-net systems and the impact of religion and religiosity. As a first year fellow, he competed for a $25,000 grant from Denver Health to study vaccine hesitancy in three safety-net pediatric clinics, finding 16% of parents of two-year-olds were vaccine hesitant in a sample of 156 parent-child dyads. Furthermore, children of hesitant parents were an additional five months behind on their recommended vaccines compared to children of non-hesitant parents. Given the national scope of vaccine hesitancy and its increasing importance for American public health, Dr. Williams now seeks to promote health equity by decreasing pediatric vaccination disparities through multi-level interventions at Denver Health and other US safety-net health systems.                               

Prior to participation in the fellowship, Dr. Williams outlined missed vaccination opportunities and treatment patterns for children hospitalized with influenza with Dr. Suchitra Rao.  Since joining the fellowship, Dr. Williams has explored vaccine hesitancy in religious communities and within Denver Health with Drs. Sean O’Leary, Elizabeth Bayliss, and Abraham Nussbaum. He has conducted longitudinal analyses of religious exemption rates in US kindergartners, qualitative studies of clergy attitudes toward vaccines and vaccine advocacy, historical studies of clergy vaccine advocates, and community engagement work with five Colorado faith communities. To support the latter work, as a first year fellow, he partnered with Adrian Miller, JD - executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches - to successfully compete for a $15,000 Community Engagement Partnership Development Grant from the CCTSI. Dr. Williams and Mr. Miller found that religious Coloradans have overwhelmingly secular concerns about vaccines.

In addition to these projects, Dr. Williams has written eight first-author manuscripts in fellowship and acquired graduate-level public health training in public health, biostatistics, epidemiology, qualitative methods, and survey design. He will graduate with a Certificate in Public Health in June 2020. He is currently working on a K23 application to understand and combat influenza vaccination disparities in safety-net systems. In the next five years, he looks forward to building on his PCHSRF research experience, mentorship, and public health training to become a leader who can uniquely understand and combat vaccination disparities in US safety-net systems.


CU Anschutz

Anschutz Health Sciences Building

1890 N Revere Ct

Third floor

Aurora, CO 80045


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