Population Health - Katherine Keyes

Few among us have not had personal or close family experience with mental illness, as well as the morbidity and mortality that can result. Currently in the United States as well as several other countries, exponential increases in drug use disorders, suicide, and rising rates of alcohol-related illness have contributed to decreases in population life expectancy, especially among the most vulnerable among us. It will require stakeholders and scholars with bold vision to envision and implement population-level strategies for control and prevention. Dr. Keyes has been at the forefront of efforts to conduct surveillance and control of rising psychiatric disorders, drug use disorders, and suicide in the United States, especially among young adults.

Pivotal Work

Dr. Keyes has extensively contributed to the literature demonstrating how our birth cohorts shape health from infancy through older age through shaping social and occupational exposures, access to opportunities, and resources. Her work has culminated in the publication of Population Health Science, the first textbook formalizing the principles of the discipline, including formulating questions and conducting research that aims to shift population health.

Current Precision Prevention Work 

Alcohol use, firearms, and violence continues to be among the most central sources of morbidity and mortality among young people. Dr. Keyes is using mathematical simulation models to estimate the optimal range of prevention programs that will reduce firearm homicide and suicide, comparing high-risk and population prevention strategies. Further, as excessive alcohol use is increasing most dramatically among adult women, Dr. Keyes is utilizing longitudinal data collected across four decades to particularly understand how women’s roles in society have been shifting, and how these shifts relate to population trends in alcohol use that can be intervened upon. Finally, Dr. Keyes is advancing the agenda of Population Health Science as a discipline, leading scholars and students to implement research agendas that aim to develop novel population strategies to reduce psychiatric disorders and violence in the US.