Dori Rosenberg, PhD, MPH

Assistant Investigator


Recent publications

Curriculum vitae (CV)




Research interests and experience

  • Behavior change: physical activity; sedentary behavior; nutrition; lifestyle interventions; technology applications; built environment
  • Aging and geriatrics: changing health behaviors including sedentary behavior, physical activity, and nutrition; role of built environment; mobility¬†
  • Obesity: obesity prevention and control; physical activity and nutrition promotion; role of sedentary behaviors; role of built environment
  • Chronic illness management: preventing further disease and disability; self-management; mobility promotion
  • Preventive medicine: Health behavior change
  • Mental health: Depression, physical activity, and aging

Getting sufficient physical activity, as most of us know, is a healthy lifestyle choice that can help prevent disease, among many benefits. But physical activity can be difficult for people to naturally integrate into daily life, and there are barriers for older adults who often have chronic illnesses and mobility limitations.

Dori Rosenberg has conducted extensive research into the promotion of physical activity, including how the built environment can better support active lifestyles and how it can help with age-related decline. Using a multilevel approach, she aims to help ensure individuals can be more successful in making healthy-lifestyle choices by understanding individual resources, characteristics, motivation, social lives, and community environments. She notes that society has many “default” options that actually promote inactivity and lead to declining health and function. One example is the use of electric scooters for individuals still able to walk, which can lead to dependency and reduced walking ability—working against the common adage, “Use it or lose it.”

Because so much physical activity takes place in communities, Dr. Rosenberg investigates how the built environment—such as parks, open space, and sidewalks—can better encourage walking and other movement. Her most compelling research inquiry is, “How can we re-engineer our environments to support active living—for everyone?” She envisions more outdoor urban and suburban facilities that invite physical activity and do so inclusively so that individuals eight to 80 can use them, as well as those with disabilities.

When delving into data, Dr. Rosenberg says she values what’s “in the numbers” of quantitative data, yet finds personal stories especially gratifying. Through her dissertation study, which won the 2010 Outstanding Dissertation award from the Society of Behavioral Medicine, she examined the outcomes of a multilevel walking intervention for very old adults. While the walking intervention increased step counts, the practical, anecdotal evidence was particularly compelling. One study participant noted that walking more made it easier for her to get dressed in the morning, something very important to her.

Dr. Rosenberg co-leads the Council on the Environment and Physical Activity’s Older Adult Group within the International Society for Physical Activity and Health. She also works with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Healthy Aging Network, contributing to projects that promote mobility and physical activity in aging populations. At the University of Washington (UW), Dr. Rosenberg serves as an affiliate assistant professor in the School of Public Health Department of Health Services and as affiliate investigator in the Health Promotion Research Center.

Related information:


Recent publications

Goins RT, Jones J, Schure M, Rosenberg DE, Phelan EA, Dodson S, Jones DL. Older adults' perceptions of mobility: a metasynthesis of qualitative studies. Gerontologist. 2014 Mar 17 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Bethancourt HJ, Rosenberg DE, Beatty T, Arterburn DE. Barriers to and facilitators of physical activity program use among older adults. Clin Med Res. 2014 Jan 10 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Gell NM, Rosenberg DE, Demiris G, LaCroix AZ, Patel KV. Patterns of technology use among older adults with and without disabilities. Gerontologist. 2013 Dec 30 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Rosenberg D, Lin E, Peterson D, Ludman E, Von Korff M, Katon W. Integrated medical care management and behavioral risk factor reduction for multicondition patients: behavioral outcomes of the TEAMcare trial. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2013 Nov 4. pii: S0163-8343(13)00309-5. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2013.10.017. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Kerr J, Marshall SJ, Patterson RE, Marinac CR, Natarajan L, Rosenberg DE, Wasilenko K, Crist K. Objectively measured physical activity is related to cognitive function in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc. 2013 Nov;61(11):1927-31. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12524. PubMed

Rosenberg DE, Bombardier CH, Artherholt S, Jensen MP, Motl RW. Self-reported depression and physical activity in adults with mobility impairments. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Apr;94(4):731-6. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2012.11.014. Epub 2012 Nov 16. PubMed

Bombardier CH, Ehde DM, Gibbons LE, Wadhwani R, Sullivan MD, Rosenberg DE, Kraft GH. Telephone-based physical activity counseling for major depression in people with multiple sclerosis. J Consult Clin Psychol. 2013; 81(1):89-99. PubMed

Rosenberg DE, Turner AP, Littman AJ, Williams RM, Norvell DC, Hakimi KM, Czerniecki J. Body mass index patterns following dysvascular lower extremity amputation. Disabil Rehabil. 2013 Jul;35(15):1269-75. doi:10.3109/09638288.2012.726690. Epub 2012 Oct 25. PubMed

Rosenberg DE, Huang DL, Simonovich SD, Belza B. Outdoor built environment barriers and facilitators to activity among midlife and older adults with mobility disabilities. Gerontologist. 2013 Apr;53(2):268-79. doi: 10.1093/geront/gns119. Epub 2012 Sep 25. PubMed

Kerr J, Carlson J, Rosenberg DE, Withers A. Identifying and promoting safe walking routes in older adults. Health. 2012;4:720-4. doi: 10.4236/health.2012.429112.

To view more publications, please see Dr. Rosenberg’s CV.