PHRESH: Pittsburgh Hill/Homewood Research on Neighborhood Change and Health

Think PHRESH: We're Looking for Participants

Our new project, Think PHRESH explores how changing neighborhood conditions throughout life contribute to healthy aging, including thinking and memory.

Do you live in Pittsburgh's Hill District or Homewood neighborhoods? You may be eligible to participate. We’re seeking participants to help us understand more about your neighborhood and how it might impact your health. The results of the study will help improve communities locally and across the country.

To learn more about the how the PHRESH study is making an impact in Pittsburgh, check out our short videos that feature residents from the Hill District and Homewood.

Read more about the benefits of participating and what you’ll be asked to do. Or, email La’Vette Wagner if you have questions.

Learn more about the project

Our neighborhoods can impact our health and well-being. We are interested in learning more about how improvements to neighborhoods—including renovating parks and green spaces, increasing affordable, quality housing, and decreasing the distance residents need to travel to buy quality foods—can influence the health of a neighborhood’s population.

PHRESH is part of an ongoing study of the Hill District and Homewood communities in the City of Pittsburgh. We are examining features of the built and social environment over time, and documenting to what extent changes impact residents’ health and well-being, diet, exercise, sleep, and heart health.

This comprehensive study follows a cohort of households and their built and social environment over time to try to answer these questions. Results will provide valuable information to City Planning, housing authorities, community development corporations, and real estate developers on issues that are important to communities nationwide.

Community Partners


Think PHRESH 2022 Logo

Think PHRESH explores how changing neighborhood conditions throughout life contribute to healthy aging, including thinking and memory. The study evaluates the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, which Black Americans are twice as likely to develop than White Americans.

By following participants’ life course exposures to structural racism at the neighborhood and individual levels, the study aims to determine whether these contribute to cognitive outcomes. In addition to exploring an understudied population, Think PHRESH aims to promote healthy aging.

Health and High Water

Black Americans are disproportionately affected by the environmental impacts of climate change. Building on our PHRESH cohort, we will examine indoor air quality and basement dust to better understand whether and how rainfall and flooding in our region might impact the respiratory health of residents.

The overall goal of Health and High Water is to understand and find solutions for the environmental injustices experienced by residents living in predominantly Black neighborhoods in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We work with community partners to ensure that we ask the right questions, disseminate our findings, and use community-based scientific research to come up with effective community and policy-based solutions.

Find out more about Health and High Water

An Ongoing Study of Neighborhood Health and Well-being

For 30 years—until 2013 through 2019—Pittsburgh’s Hill District was without a full-service supermarket. The original PHRESH study began by looking at residents' health and nutrition, their food shopping (where they bought food, how they got there), perceptions about their neighborhood, and access to healthy food options, and then looked at what changes occurred after a supermarket opened. Since then, the PHRESH study has expanded in several ways and continues to look at whether and how neighborhood improvements affect our health and well-being:

  • Diet and exercise habits
  • Resident use of parks and neighborhood green spaces
  • Transportation access
  • Perceptions of neighborhood safety
  • Neighborhood conditions
  • Heart health, including blood sugar and blood pressure
  • Sleep quality
  • COVID-19 pandemic related outcomes including food security, distress, and employment impacts
  • Mental health
  • Respiratory health

Community-Focused Research

We believe that the more communities know about the health of their residents, the more empowered they can become. PHRESH is supported by community advisory boards made up of neighborhood residents and representatives from local businesses and nonprofit organizations. We are committed to sharing the study's results with residents, policymakers, and community organizations at public meetings in the Hill District and Homewood.

Interested in Participating in PHRESH?

Visit our FAQ page to learn more about how you can get involved with PHRESH. Participants should live in Pittsburgh's Hill District or Homewood neighborhoods.

To find out if you're eligible, contact PHRESH field coordinator La'Vette Wagner at 412.586.5695 or

Learn More About PHRESH and Our Findings

PHRESH has been collecting data in the Hill District and Homewood every year since 2011. Visit our Findings page for study findings to date, links to publications, and more.

PHRESH is funded by the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).