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Li-Wu Chen

Li-Wu Chen Photo

Current Position

Professor and Chair, Department of Health Sciences

Educational Background

PhD, Health Policy and Administration, The Pennsylvania State University, 1994-1999

MHSA, Health Services Administration, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1991-1993

BPH, Public Health, National Taiwan University, 1986-1990

Research Interests and Experiences

Throughout his career, Dr. Chen has directed many research projects in the areas of health services and policy research, rural health research, health economics, and public health services and systems research (PHSSR), publishing policy briefs, research finding briefs, reports to public health agencies, and peer-reviewed manuscripts to inform policy makers, public health practitioners, and health administrators at state, regional, and national levels.

Dr. Chen has been the PI or Co-PI for several PHSSR grants funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). During 2010 and 2020, he co-founded and co-directed the Nebraska Public Health Practice Based Research Network (PBRN) that links the UNMC College of Public Health, Public Health Association of Nebraska, Nebraska Association of Local Health Directors, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, and all public health districts across the state of Nebraska. Through the PBRN, Dr. Chen has engaged many local health departments in identifying, designing, implementing, disseminating, and translating research on critical issues related to public health systems, including workforce capacity, community partnership, resource allocation, quality improvement strategies and cost, and public health agency accreditation readiness and challenges. 

Dr. Chen currently serves as an editorial board member of the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, a premier peer-reviewed journal in public health practice research. He also serves as an Education Council member for AcademyHealth, which is a major and leading national organization serving the field of health services and policy research. Through his previous employment, Dr. Chen also served as the Director of the UNMC Center for Health Policy Analysis and Rural Health Research and was the Deputy Director of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis (funded by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy) from 2004 to 2010. Dr. Chen was also the Founding Director of the UNMC PhD Program in Health Services and Policy Research.  

Active Grants

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Legal and Social Services to Address the Needs of Health Care Super-Utilizers: Thinking Outside the Box. Role: Co-Investigator. Award: $536,316. Period: 2018-2021.

Selected Completed Grants

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Comparing State Dissemination and Implementation Strategies to Understand Local Health Departments’ Accreditation and Quality Improvement Activities. Role: Co-Principal Investigator. Award: $349,999. Period: 2014-2016.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Examining the Relationship between Quality Improvement and Accreditation Strategies for Regional Local Health Departments in Nebraska. Role: Co-Principal Investigator. Award: $100,000. Period: 2011-2013.

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, A Systematic Study of Nebraska’s Regional Public Health Agency Model. Role: Principal Investigator. Award: $199,973. Period: 2008-2009.

Selected Publications

  1. Wani R, Watanabe-Gallowway S, Tak HJ, Chen Li-Wu, Wehbi N, Wilson F (2020) Utilisation of Emergency Departments of Behavioural Disorders and Supply of Workforce in Nebraska. Evid Based Ment Health 2020;0:1-10. Doi:10.1136/ebmental-2019-300125
  2. Whittington MD, Atherly AJ, Chen Li-Wu, VanRaemdonck L, Lampe S. (2019) Development and Scoring of a Survey on Public Health Accreditation Capacity. Public Health Reports. DOI: 10.1177/0033354919884307.
  3. Sun X, Palm D, Chen Li-Wu, Grimm B. (2019) Health Care Systems, Public Health, and Communities: Population Health Improvements: Building Stronger Linkages Between Public Health and Primary Care: the Nebraska Experience. Preventing Chronic Disease
  4. Hyo Jung T, Chen Li-Wu, Wilson F, Goldsweig A, Oleynikov D, Hawking M, Shih T. (2019) Post-Discharge Services for Different Diagnoses Than Index Hospitalization Predict Decreased 30-Day Readmissions Among Medicare Beneficiaries. Journal of General Internal Medicine. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-019-05115-2.
  5. Chen, Li-Wu & Dart B (2019). A Renewed Framework for Local Health Departments. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. 25(1), 5-6 (25th Anniversary Issue). This was an invited commentary for the journal’s 25th anniversary issue.
  6. Chen Li-Wu, Gregg A, Palm D (2018). Longitudinal Evaluation of Quality Improvement and Public Health Accreditation Readiness in Nebraska Local Health Departments, 2011-2016. Public Health Reports. Vol 133(3) 250-256.
  7. Chen, Li-Wu, Wilson FA, Gregg A, Gupta N, Bekmuratova S, Palm D (2018) Measuring the Cost and Value of Quality Improvement Initiatives for Local Health Departments. Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. Mar/Apr; 24(2): 164-171. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000552.
  8. Gregg, A, Bekmuratova S, Palm D, Van Raemdonck L, Pezzino G, Chen Li-Wu, Manetta P. (2017). Rurality, QI maturity, and accreditation readiness: A comparison study of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska local health departments. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000000678. [Epub ahead of print]
  9. Wang H, Qiu F, Gregg A, Chen B, Kim J, Young L, Wan N, Chen Li-Wu. (2017) Barriers and Facilitators of Colorectal Cancer Screening for Patients of Rural Accountable Care Organization Clinics: A Multi-Level Analysis.  Journal of Rural Health. DOI: 10.1111/jrh.12248 [Epub ahead of print]
  10. Wang Y, Wilson, FA, Chen, Li-Wu (2017) The Association between Immigration Status and Office-Based Medical Provider Visits for Cancer Patients in the United States. Medical Care. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000697. [Epub ahead of print]
  11. Chen Li-Wu, Nguyen A, Jacobson JJ, Gupta N, Bekmuratova S, Palm D (2015) “Relationship between quality improvement implementation and accreditation seeking in local health departments” American Journal of Public Health. 2015 Apr; 105, Suppl 2:S295-302.PMID: 25689200
  12. Chen, Li-Wu, Nguyen, J. Jacobson, and D. Palm (2012) “Assessment of Workforce Capacity for Local Health Departments in Nebraska: A Perspective from Public Health Programmatic Areas” Journal of Public Health Management & Practice. 2012; 18(6): 595-601.
  13. Chen, Li-Wu, Nguyen, J. Jacobson, D. Ojha, and D. Palm (2012) “Effectiveness and Challenges for Implementing Quality Improvement Activities in Nebraska’s Local Health Departments,” Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research: Vol. 1: No. 3, Article 7. Available at:
  14. Stimpson JP, Pagan JA, and Chen, Li-Wu (2012) “Reducing racial and ethnic disparities in colorectal cancer screening is likely to require more than access to care” Health Affairs. 31(12):2747-2754.
  15. Chen, Li-Wu, Xu, F. Yu, J. Jacobson, S. Roberts, and D. Palm (2012) “The Relationship Between County Variation in Macro Contextual Factors and the Performance of Public Health Practice in Regional Public Health Systems in Nebraska”, Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, 18(2), 132-140.
  16. Chen, Li-Wu, Jacobson, S. Roberts, and D. Palm. (2012) “Resource Allocation and Funding Challenges for Regional Local Health Departments in Nebraska”, Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, 18(2), 141-147.
  17. Chen, Li-Wu, Roberts, L. Xu, J. Jacobson, and D. Palm. (2012) “Effectiveness and Challenges of Regional Public Health Partnerships in Nebraska”, Journal of Public Health Management & Practice, 18(2), 148-155.
  18. Chen, Li-Wu, M. Shambaugh-Miller, J. Meza, W. Zhang, K. Shaw, and K.J. Mueller. (2009) “ Inpatient Hospital Service Utilization of the Uninsured in Nebraska: Policy Implications for Addressing Uncompensated Care” (2009) Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved 20: 444-457.
  19. Chen, Li-Wu, W. Zhang, J. Sun, and K.J. Mueller. (2009) “The Magnitude, Variation, and Determinants of Rural Hospital Resource Utilization Associated with Hospitalizations Due to Ambulatory Care Sensitive Conditions” Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.15(3): 216-222.
  20. Chen, Li-Wu and D. Shea. (2004) “The Economies of Scale for Nursing Home Care” Medical Care Research & Review 61(1):38-63.
  21. Chen, Li-Wu and D. Shea. (2002) “Do Prospective Payments Really Contain Nursing Home Costs?” Health Services Research, 37(2):251-271. (Lead article in this issue)