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William Kerr, PhD

William C. Kerr, Ph.D., is a senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group, Public Health Institute, and is Director of ARG’s National Alcohol Research Center focused on the epidemiology of alcohol problems and alcohol-related disparities. Dr. Kerr received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of California-Davis. Since joining the Alcohol Research Group in 2001 Dr. Kerr has pursued research in the areas of alcohol policy, measurement methodology, trends in US alcohol consumption and relationships between alcohol use patterns and health outcomes. He is currently leading an NIH R01 projects evaluating the legalization of cannabis in Washington. Recent projects include analyses of inter-relationships between alcohol consumption patterns and health problems in a life-course perspective and health disparities related to alcohol. He is also involved in projects addressing alcohol’s harm’s from other use, evaluating impacts of policies targeting drinking during pregnancy, estimating disparities in alcohol policy responsiveness, disentangling economic influences on alcohol-related suicide risk and building agent-based simulation models of population alcohol use over the lifecourse for policy testing. 

Alcohol and Pregnancy: Do State-level Punitive and Supportive Policies Matter?

This study is focused on the effects of state-level policies relating to alcohol use during pregnancy and whether effects vary by race/ethnicity and SES. This project identified state-level policies targeting alcohol use during pregnancy that are associated with improved alcohol use and pregnancy outcomes, as well as which policies are associated with unintended consequences (of prenatal care avoidance) and examined whether there are disparate effects of these policies. PI: William C. Kerr

Calibrated Agent Simulations for Combined Analysis of Drinking Etiologies (CASCADE)

This project aims to develop agent-based models and systems-based models of the UK and US populations for the sequential and linked purposes of testing theories of alcohol use behaviors, predicting population alcohol use patterns, predicting population level alcohol outcomes of liver cirrhosis and alcohol poisonings and evaluating the impacts of policy interventions on alcohol use patterns and harmful outcomes. PI: William C. Kerr

Disparities in Alcohol-related Risks for Injury, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Morbidity and Mortality

This project looks at health disparities in alcohol-related injuries and chronic conditions. Analysis of alcohol’s role in risks for these health issues among disparate populations helps our understanding of how to reduce alcohol-related disparities through policy, prevention and treatment. Data is used to assess major causes of illness, injury, disability and death in areas of the US where significant alcohol-related racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities occur. Director: William C. Kerr

Effects of Spirits Privatization on Alcohol Prices and Alcohol-related Harms

Our studies of spirits privatization included analyses of spirits price changes, cross-border sales to neighboring states and changes in per capita consumption. Survey based analyses evaluated changes in drinks patterns across privatization, opinions on privatization and other policies, changes in spirits purchasing and store satisfaction and changes in the use of cannabis with alcohol. PI: William C. Kerr

Impacts of Recreational Marijuana Legalization and Retail Outlets in Washington: Unique Perspectives from Survey and County Mortality Data

This project will utilize geo-referenced survey data from 2014 to 2016 to investigate relationships between local cannabis policy and retail outlet locations and measures of cannabis use patterns including use with alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. County-level analyses of mortality rates will evaluate relationships with store openings and numbers over the 2008 to 2018 period. PI: William C. Kerr

Inter-Relationships Between Life-Course Alcohol Patterns and Health Conditions

This project quantified the impacts of health problems and conditions on drinking patterns over the life-course and will utilized these findings to more clearly evaluate the role of alcohol in diabetes, hypertension and heart disease and on general health status with attention to disparities in these relationships. This project also evaluated impacts of childhood adversity on these outcomes. PI: William C. Kerr

State Parity Laws May Explain Why Federal Policy Aimed at Increasing Access to Alcohol Treatment Services Shows Modest Effect (2019)

In the US, approximately 16 million people have an alcohol use disorder and heavy drinking is a leading cause of preventable death. However, a...

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The Relationship Between the U.S. State Alcohol Policy Environment and Individuals’ Experience of Secondhand Effects (2019)

Alcohol Harms Due to Others’ Drinking   Background Although restrictive state alcohol policy environments are protective for...

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Trends in Alcohol’s Harms to Others (AHTO) and Co-occurrence of Family-Related AHTO: The Four US National Alcohol Surveys, 2000–2015 (2015)

PHI Alcohol Research Group researchers Thomas K. Greenfield, Katherine Karriker-Jaffe, Lauren Kaplan and William C. Kerr, along with Sharon C. Wils...

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The Blurring of Alcohol Categories (2013)

Consumers often don't know how much alcohol is in their drink because beer and wine makers have been upping the amount of alcohol in ...

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 PHI programs bring 50+ years of expertise in researching the economic and health impacts of alcohol in order to inform prevention and policy ...

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More than one million people in the United States are diagnosed with cancer each year, and low-income communities and communities of color at highe...

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Heart Disease

Poor diet and physical inactivity are among the leading causes of preventable death in California and play a major role in a host of chronic diseas...

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PHI provides national leadership and guidance on cannabis policy development, implementation and analysis, in order to ensure that implementat...

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Public Policy Development

Changing policies and practices at a school or preschool, in a local business or workplace, or in a neighborhood, state, and country can create pal...

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Research - Survey

The Public Health Institute believes in fostering health and well-being through rigorous quantitative and qualitative research, guided by the princ...

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Social Determinants of Health

Malnutrition, food insecurity and hunger often go hand-in-hand with obesity and chronic disease. Many vulnerable families live in neighborhoods tha...

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