Jana Peterson-Besse

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Course information

At Pacific University, all faculty teach a variety of different courses. Typically, we do not use graduate teaching assistants, which means that your classes will be taught by professors and that you will have plenty of opportunities to get to know the faculty in your discipline.

Below I have listed some of the courses that I teach. We are always developing and trying out new classes, so the list may change now and then.

PH101 | Public Health

PH200 | Epidemiology

PH325 | Global Health

PH355 | Promoting Community Health

PH491/492 | Public Health Capstone

Areas of Research & Specialization

I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in disability and health at Oregon Health & Science University.

My research focuses on health promotion and access to care for people with disabilities, and health disparities experienced by members of this population. I am passionate about the creation of environments that promote and support health and the pursuit of social justice for all populations, including people with disabilities.


Ph.D. in Community and Behavioral Health, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa in 2007

Master of Public Health, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa in 2002

Bachelor of Science in Genetics, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa in 1999

Why I study Public Health

When I was in college, I didn’t know much about public health.  I wanted to work in a health field, and I wanted to be of service to others, so I entered medical school after graduation. In medical school, I became frustrated. I learned a lot about treating disease but little about promoting health, and I saw a health care system that did treat all people equally. A professional in the medical school administration suggested that I pursue public health. I enrolled in courses and was instantly hooked. Public health seeks to promote health and wellness, not only for individuals, but for communities and for the world, through creation of healthy environments and policies. Public health also seeks social justice through the elimination of health disparities and pursuit of access to health care. I am passionate about all of these topics and about the field of public health, and I love to ignite a similar passion in students who are excited about promoting health and justice.

Published works (selected)

Andresen, E. M., Peterson-Besse, J. J., Krahn, G. L., Walsh, E. S., Horner-Johnson, W., & Iezzoni, L. I. (In press). Clinical preventive screening utilization among women with disabilities: A systematic review women's health issues. Women’s Health Issues.

Suzuki, R., Krahn, G., Small, E., & Peterson-Besse, J. J. (In press). Multi-level barriers to obtaining mammograms for women with mobility limitations: Post workshop evaluation. American Journal of Health Behavior.

Cuesta-Vargas, A. I., Paz-Lourido, B., Lee, M., Peterson-Besse, J. J. (2013). Adaptation and validation of a physical activity self-efficacy and social support scale for people with intellectual disabilities (SE/SS-AID) in a Spanish sample. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 38(2), 172-176

Peterson, J. J., Suzuki, R., Walsh, E. S., Buckley, D., & Krahn, G. L. (2012). Improving Cancer Screening Among Women with Mobility Impairments: Trial of a Participatory Workshop Intervention. American Journal of Health Promotion, 26(4), 212-216.

Suzuki, R., Peterson, J. J., Weatherby, A., Buckley, D., Walsh, E. S., Kailes, J. I., & Krahn, G. L. (2010). Using Intervention Mapping to promote the receipt of clinical preventive services among women with physical disabilities. Health Promotion Practice.  Published on-line: doi: 10.1177/1524839910382624

Lee, M., Peterson, J. J., & Dixon, A. (2010). Rasch-calibration: Self-efficacy and social support scale of persons with intellectual disabilities.  Research in Developmental Disabilities, 31, 903-913.

Horner-Johnson, W., Krahn, G. L., Suzuki, R., Peterson, J. J. Roid, G., Hall, T., & The Expert Panel on Disability and Health Measurement (2010). Differential performance of SF-36 in items in healthy adults with and without functional limitations. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 91, 570-575.

Peterson, J. J., Hammond, L., & Culley, C. (2009). Concepts of health and health promotion for people living with disabilities. In C. E. Drum, G. L. Krahn, & H. Bersani, Jr. (Eds.), Disability in Public Health.Washington, DC: American Public Health Association & American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Peterson, J. J., Peterson, N. A., Lowe, J. B., & Nothwehr, F. N. (2009). Promoting leisure physical activity participation among adults with intellectual disabilities: Validation of self-efficacy and social support scales. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 22, 487-497.

Drum, C. E., Peterson, J. J., Culley, C., Krahn, G. L., Heller, T., Kimpton, T., McCubbin, J., Rimmer, J., Seekins, T., Suzuki, R., & White, G. W. (2009). Guidelines and criteria for the implementation of community-based health promotion programs for individuals with disabilities. American Journal of Health Promotion, 24(2), 93-101.

Peterson, J. J., Lowe, J. B., Peterson, N. A., Nothwehr, F. K., Janz, K. F., & Lobas, J. G. (2008). Paths to leisure physical activity among adults with intellectual disabilities: Self-efficacy and social support. American Journal of Health Promotion, 23(1):35-42.

Peterson, J. J., Janz, K. F., & Lowe, J. B. (2008). Physical activity among adults with intellectual disabilities living in community settings. Preventive Medicine, 47, 101–106.

Senior Practicum

In addition to the Senior Capstone, all seniors at in Public Health complete a senior practicum. During the practicum, students gain hands-on experience in the field while working within an organization that addresses public health issues. The practicum allows students to apply public health knowledge and theories learned in didactic coursework to their assigned responsibilities within a professional setting. Field education represents a unique partnership between the university and community organizations. A range of organizations can serve as practicum placement sites, including governmental and non-governmental public health, health care, and community-based organizations. Students spend a minimum of 100 contact hours with the organization over the course of the semester of their senior year. Practicum activities involve at least one of the essential public health services, such as collection of health data or other surveillance activities, community assessment, mobilization, policy, advocacy, program planning, program evaluation, and/or health education activities.

2013 Public Health Practicum placements:

  • Jennifer Karlen, OregonASK Will Marchbanks, Center for Sustainability, Pacific University
  • Andrew Wagner, Oregon Office on Disability and Health, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Kelly Moore, Oregon Office on Disability and Health, Oregon Health & Science University
  • Hannah Porter, Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI), Oregon Health & Science University
  • Annette Highley, Upstream Public Health
  • Tuong Nguyen, Asian Health and Service Center
  • Kristine Valdez, Hillsboro School-Based Health Center, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
  • Desi Whitman, Forest Grove School-Based Health Centers Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
  • Madison Collura, Forest Grove School-Based Health Centers Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
  • Ellen Rodgers, ¡Salud!, Tuality Healthcare
  • Jessica Adamson, Edwards Center, Inc.
  • Maria Gonzalez-Cress, Public Health Division, Washington County Department of Health & Human Services
  • Ashlee Rivers, Cornell Estates  
  • Matt Guerrero, Kaiser Permanente, Hawaii
Office Location: 
Carnegie Hall 210 (Forest Grove)