Leo S. Morales, MD, PhD, MPH

Associate Investigator, GHRI

Group Health Physician, Internal Medicine


Recent publications

Curriculum vitae (CV)


Research interests and experience

  • Health disparities: minority and immigrant health; cultural competence in health care; cross-cultural research methods
  • Chronic disease risk factors: cardiometabolic risk factors; aging and dementia; childhood and adolescent obesity
  • Patient-centered care: satisfaction with care; patient reports about care
  • Psychometrics/Measurement: item response theory; structural equation modeling; differential item functioning; exploratory factor analysis

Group Health Research Institute proudly welcomed Leo Morales in 2009. An accomplished physician scientist known for his research on Latino and immigrant health, Dr. Morales is jumpstarting the Institute's investigations into regional health disparities and cross-cultural survey methodology.

Before joining the Institute, Dr. Morales was a tenured associate professor in general internal medicine and health services research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). For more than a decade, he served concurrently as a health policy analyst at RAND Health. In addition to this rigorous research agenda, Dr. Morales supervised medical residents and maintained a general internal medicine practice at UCLA Medical Center.

While at UCLA, Dr. Morales was the principal investigator for evaluating Hablamos Juntos—a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF)-funded program to improve language access for Latino patients with limited English proficiency. He also directed the methods cores for two minority health research centers funded by the National Institutes of Health. In 2004, he received an RWJF health policy investigator award to study the health of Mexican immigrants.

Dr. Morales often shares his expertise through invited lectures on Latino health, cultural competence for physicians, and measurement strategies for minority health research. Since 1999, he has served on the faculty advisory committee at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. He is also on the editorial board of Health Services Research and acts as an ad-hoc reviewer for nearly a dozen other research journals.

A three-time alumni of the University of Washington—in chemistry, health services, and medicine—Dr. Morales is excited to return to the Northwest to extend his research on minority health. One of his goals is to explore the health of rarely studied immigrant, Latino, and Native American communities in Eastern Washington—and to shed light on issues related to access and communication that may affect health outcomes.

Dr. Morales is also keen to continue investigating survey methodology across cultures and to examine the limitations of using self-report data to measure health status. He is delighted that the close link between research and care delivery at Group Health helps make this work feasible: Self-report data can be easily compared to health outcomes in patients' electronic medical records.

Dr. Morales sees primary care patients at Group Health and is an affiliate investigator at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. At the UW, he is an affiliate associate professor in public health.

He is a member of several professional organizations, including the American College of Physicians, the Society for General Internal Medicine, and the American Association for Clinical Investigation—a physician honor society that inducted him in 2007.

Related information:


Recent publications

Moreno G, Morales LS, Nunez de Jaimes F, Tseng CH, Isiordia M, Noguera C, Mangione CM. Neighborhood perceptions and health-related outcomes among Latinos with diabetes from a rural agricultural community. J Community Health. 2014 Mar 6 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Paz SH, Spritzer KL, Morales LS, Hays RD. Evaluation of the Patient-Reported Outcomes Information System (PROMIS) Spanish-language physical functioning items. Qual Life Res. 2013 Sep;22(7):1819-30. doi: 10.1007/s11136-012-0292-6. Epub 2012 Nov 3. PubMed

Banegas MP, Leng M, Graubard BI, Morales LS. The risk of developing invasive breast cancer in Hispanic women: a look across Hispanic subgroups. Cancer. 2013 Apr 1;119(7):1373-80. doi: 10.1002/cncr.27896. Epub 2012 Dec 7. PubMed

Aguila E, Escarce J, Leng M, Morales L. Health status and behavioral risk factors in older adult Mexicans and Mexican immigrants to the United States. J Aging Health. 2013;25(1):136-58. doi: 10.1177/0898264312468155. Epub 2012 Dec 21. PubMed

Williams EC, Lapham GT, Hawkins EJ, Rubinsky AD, Morales LS, Young BA, Bradley KA. Variation in documented care for unhealthy alcohol consumption across race/ethnicity in the Department of Veterans Affairs healthcare system. Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2012 Sep;36(9):1614-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2012.01761.x. Epub 2012 Mar 8. PubMed

Fishman PA, Ding V, Hubbard R, Ludman EJ, Pabiniak C, Stewart C, Morales L, Simon GE. Impact of deductibles on initiation and continuation of psychotherapy for treatment of depression. Health Serv Res. 2012 Aug;47(4):1561-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6773.2012.01388.x. Epub 2012 Feb 29. PubMed

Jimenez N, Moreno G, Leng M, Buchwald D, Morales LS. Patient-reported quality of pain treatment and use of interpreters in Spanish-speaking patients hospitalized for obstetric and gynecological care. J Gen Intern Med. 2012 Dec;27(12):1602-8. doi: 10.1007/s11606-012-2154-x. Epub 2012 Jul 11. PubMed

Chubak J, Anderson ML, Saunders KW, Hubbard RA, Tuzzio L, Liss DT, Morales LS, Reid RJ. Predictors of 1-year change in patient activation among older adults with diabetes and heart disease. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2012 Jul;60(7):1316-21. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2012.04008.x. PubMed

Green BB, Bogart A, Chubak J, Vernon SW, Morales LS, Meenan RT, Laing SS, Fuller S, Ko C, Wang CY. Nonparticipation in a population-based trial to increase colorectal cancer screening. Am J Prev Med. 2012 Apr;42(4):390-7. PubMed

Simon GE, Ding V, Hubbard R, Fishman P, Ludman E, Morales L, Operskalski B, Savarino J. Early dropout from psychotherapy for depression with group- and network-model therapists. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2012 Nov;39(6):440-7. doi: 10.1007/s10488-011-0364-x. Epub 2011 Jun 28. PubMed

To view more publications, please see Dr. Morales' CV.