Joan R. Griffith, MD, MPH, MHA


Chair, Department of Pediatrics, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans, LA

Joan R. Griffith, M.D., M.P.H., M.H.A., was appointed chair, Department of Pediatrics, Ochsner Health System, New Orleans, LA, July 2012. Dr. Griffith earned her medical degree at the University of Cincinnati, College of Medicine, Cincinnati, OH. She completed her residency in pediatrics at Tulane University, New Orleans, LA and a fellowship in adolescent medicine at the Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Aurora, CO. She is board certified in pediatrics. Dr. Griffith received her masters of public health in health policy from Harvard University, Boston, MA, in 2007 and her masters of science in healthcare administration from Wilmington College, Wilmington, DE, in 1999.

Prior to retiring in 2002, Dr. (Colonel) Griffith spent 21 years in the US Air Force. While in the military, she held various positions including chief executive office for a multidisciplinary outpatient clinic in Del Rio, Texas, chief of the medical staff at a health maintenance organization at Dover Air Force Base, and chief of pediatrics at Kadena Air Base, Japan. She has published several scientific articles in peer review journals and authored numerous abstracts, book reviews and popular articles. She is a national speaker on topics such as adolescent suicide, adolescent development and health issues as well as childhood and adolescent obesity. She serves on the editorial committee for the World Journal of Pediatric. In 2006, Dr. Griffith was selected for The Commonwealth Fund/Harvard University Fellowship in Minority Health Policy and the Marquis “Who’s Who in Medicine and Healthcare.”




Reducing Childhood Obesity in Low Socioeconomic and Diverse Communities


Since 1980 the prevalence of pediatric obesity has increased disproportionately among low socio-economic and diverse communities. The purpose of this project was to identify what is presently being done in the health care sector to prevent or reduce childhood obesity among low socio-economic and diverse communities.


The National Initiative for Children Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) announced a request for proposals (RFPs) in preparation for its September 2006 Accelerating Improvement in Childhood Obesity Invitational Summit and National Congress.  Eighty applications were received by the April 27, 2006, deadline.  Three winners were selected as best practices based on program innovation, design, potential for outcomes/outcome evidence, replicable and sustainable approach, and minority or underserved population. For this project a secondary qualitative analysis of the 80 applications was completed in April 2007, as well as semi-structured interviews with key informants in the area of childhood obesity, a limited literature review in PubMed, and a review of the recommendations from a national expert advisory group on childhood obesity.


The 80 RFPs represented the four United States geographic regions:  South (38.75%), Northeast (27.50%), Midwest (16.25%), and West (16.25%) and 1.25% from out of country (England). Academic hospitals/clinics (30%), non-academic hospitals/clinics (20%), school-based (11.25%), health plans (10%), and community health clinics (6.25%) comprised responders. Program goals included prevention, treatment, or both.  Prevention ranged from avoiding progression to at-risk or obese to preventing co-morbidities in overweight children. Forty-two percent of the RFPs were comprehensive.  Thirty-nine percent documented the socioeconomic level of participants, 38% documented the race/ethnicity of participants, and 62.50% reported outcome data.  Twelve percent of the programs that reported outcomes provided data based on race/ethnicity.  Academic hospitals/clinics reported the greatest level of participant racial/ethnic diversity.  Among the 12 academic programs reporting at least 50% total minority representation, 8 programs were treatment only and 4 included treatment and prevention. 


These findings suggest that efforts to identify the best practices to reduce and prevent obesity in low socioeconomic and diverse communities cannot be achieved by analyzing current practices because of inconsistencies in data collection. Future research and funding policies should include standardization of criteria such as definition of measures, intervention objectives, reporting of outcomes, and evaluation plans.


Charles Homer, MD, MPH, Chief Executive Officer, The National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ).

Special acknowledgement to Christina Gunther-Murphy, Project Director.