If you live in Pittsburgh's Hill District or Homewood neighborhoods, you may be eligible to participate in Think PHRESH. If your household participated in PHRESH in 2011, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2020, or 2021 you may be invited to participate in the 2023 phase.

Your participation will 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.

What does PHRESH stand for?

PHRESH first started as a study that looked at the impact of a new full-service supermarket on diet and health. It was called “Pittsburgh Hill/Homewood Research on Eating, Shopping, and Health,” or PHRESH. Since then we’ve expanded the study to include other changes in the neighborhoods, from improvements in housing to greenspace, exercise facilities and landscaping. The name is now “Pittsburgh Hill/Homewood Research on Neighborhood Change and Health,” but we still use the acronym PHRESH.

What's new for PHRESH?

PHRESH has expanded to explore additional outcomes in the Hill District and Homewood neighborhoods:

  • THINK PHRESH explores how neighborhood changes might impact resident’s health behaviors and mental health through cognitive-related outcomes.

  • PHRESH-Air looks at historical exposure to air pollution to better understand whether exposure to higher levels of air pollution is associated with memory impairment and dementia. Outdoor air pollution is a risk factor for a many different health conditions, including asthma, emphysema, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and stroke. Recently, some studies have shown that exposure to outdoor air pollution may increase a person’s risk for memory impairment and dementia. Air pollution in Pittsburgh comes from many sources, including industrial facilities within and surrounding the city and local traffic. We will also look at socioeconomic factors and neighborhood-related factors to see if they make a difference in whether or not air pollution affects memory impairment and dementia.

  • rePHRESH is a continuation of the original PHRESH project that examined whether diet and food purchasing were impacted by the new supermarket. This project is looking at how multiple neighborhood improvements might impact resident health and wellbeing, including diet.

  • PHRESH Heart explores how neighborhood changes can affect cardiometabolic outcomes such as blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol.

  • PHRESH Zzz explored how neighborhood changes including improvements in housing might impact outcomes such as sleep quality and sleep apnea.

  • PHRESH Plus explored how improvements to neighborhood green spaces (like August Wilson Park) might influence park use, physical activity, and health.

Who is conducting the project?

Researchers from RAND Social and Economic Well-being, in partnership with the Hill District Community Development Corporation, Homewood Children’s Village, Operation Better Block, Inc., and the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Social and Urban Research. The work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health.

How will PHRESH benefit the Hill District and Homewood?

Although the Hill District and Homewood are distinct Pittsburgh neighborhoods, they have many things in common. In 2011 at the start of the study, they were both food deserts, or neighborhoods that lacked access to healthy food options. Because we wanted to understand the impact of opening a new full-service supermarket, it was important to look at changes in both neighborhoods over time. Both the Hill District and Homewood have similar population demographics, infrastructure, and about the same number of neighborhood parks and playgrounds. Looking at both of these neighborhoods helps us understand how changes in these factors affect residents' health.

PHRESH has two community advisory boards (one in the Hill District and one in Homewood). These boards are made up of local residents with a variety of backgrounds, as well as representatives from local businesses and community organizations.

We are committed to sharing what we learn so that the findings can directly benefit the Hill District and Homewood. We will also hold special town hall meetings with neighborhood residents to share our results and answer questions.

What do I have to do?

If you participate in PHRESH, you may be asked to:

  1. Complete a 45- to 60-minute in-person interview with a PHRESH staff member. The meeting can take place in your home, in our field office, or in a public place.
  2. Allow us to measure your height, and weight.
  3. If eligible and willing, other health-related measurements for additional incentive. Below are examples from past data collections:
    • Participants wore a watch-sized activity meter to measure physical activity and sleep for seven days.
    • Participants completed a daily sleep diary for the seven days that they wore the meter.
    • Participants completed blood draws that tested blood sugar and lipids.
    • Participants wore an overnight sleep-monitoring device that measured breathing while sleeping, or sleep apnea.
    • In the past (and in planned data collection), participants have reported everything they eat and drink in the past 24 hours. This is also called a 24-hour dietary recall. This is how diet is assessed.

A PHRESH staff member will check in with you by phone to make sure things are going well and to see if you have any questions.

How will I benefit from participating?

PHRESH participants are compensated for their time and effort when they participate in the survey and other parts of data collection (such as dietary recalls). We also want participants to better understand the information that we are collecting on a community level. Individual’s information is anonymous. But looking at the aggregate data can hopefully allow residents to see where additional services might be needed.

How do I know the interviewer is from PHRESH?

  • PHRESH interviewers wear an ID badge that clearly shows they are part of the PHRESH project team.
  • Their shirts will also have the PHRESH logo.

If you are not sure or have any concerns, contact PHRESH field coordinator La'Vette Wagner at 412.586.5695 or

If you do not want the interviewer to enter your home, ask the interviewer to leave a brochure so you can call for an appointment to come to our office or to meet at another public place.

PHRESH interviewers will never insist on entering your home. They wait for you to invite them in.

Your safety is our concern.

Is participation confidential? What steps are taken to protect my personal information?

We will keep all information you give us confidential. We will not share your information with anyone outside the project, and your records will be labeled with an ID number instead of your name. Your responses will be combined with responses from other study participants, and your records will be destroyed after the study concludes.

Who can I contact if I have other questions?

If you have other questions, you can contact the field coordinator, La'Vette Wagner, at or at 412.586.5695.