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Personal profile

Research Interests

Dr. Rowland Chang is a rheumatologist and epidemiologist interested in the outcomes of individuals and populations with arthritis and chronic joint symptoms. He sees patients at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, where he also teaches clinical rheumatology to medical students and residents. He is a faculty member of the Feinberg School of Medicine's Medical Decision Making course and co-leads an epidemiology course in the Graduate School. He thereby participates in the epidemiology education of medical, public health and other graduate students. His research interests focus on understanding and improving functional and disability outcomes of persons with arthritis. With Dorothy Dunlop, PhD, he co-leads the Physical Activity in Rheumatology Research (PARR) group, an interdisciplinary group that studies the consequences of low physical activity/sedentary behavior and tests new approaches to promoting healthy physical activity behaviors in persons with chronic knee symptoms and other rheumatologic and musculoskeletal disorders. He has been a member of the NIH-funded Arthritis Center since 1982, Director of its P30-funded Methodologic Core, Director of the Program in Public Health from 1996-2018, acting Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine from 2005-2007, and was the Founding Director of the Institute of Public Health and Medicine from 2012-2016. He is currently the Chair of the Arthritis Foundation's Board of Directors.

Dr. Chang's clinical practice has been at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago) since 1982, where he has led an interdisciplinary group of physicians, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, social workers, and other rehabilitation professionals expert in the care of persons with arthritis. He has authored a book on Arthritis Rehabilitation.

Dr. Chang's educational focus is in the teaching of epidemiology to medical students and students enrolled in Northwestern's Program in Public Health which offers the Master of Public Health (MPH) and Master of Science (MS) in Biostatistics degrees. Dr. Chang is noted for his clinical epidemiologic/health services research focused on the outcomes of rehabilitation and orthopaedic surgical treatments for persons with arthritis and the determinants of functional limitation in clinical and community populations with arthritis. Much of his community population work has been done in collaboration with Dorothy Dunlop, PhD. He also has experience performing decision analysis and cost-effective analysis. With several colleagues in the Physical Activity in Rheumatology Research (PARR) group, Dr. Chang has developed and tested several physical activity promotion interventions with NIH support: first was the Improving Motivation for Physical Activity in Arthritis Clinical Trial (IMPAACT), which tested a motivational interviewing based physical activity promotion program for patients with rheumatoid arthritis and knee osteoarthritis. Next was JointADventure, which tested a worksite intervention that promoted healthy physical activity/dietary behaviors for overweight/obese persons with chronic knee symptoms. Most recently, the PARR group, under the leadership of Pamela Semanik, PhD, APN, completed the MobilWise study, which tested a scalable, technology-based, worksite physical activity intervention that included wearable physical activity monitors and remote motivational interviewing based coaching. The research group is currently planning a large multi-centered clinical trial to test a "stepped" strategy to attain and sustain healthy physical activity behaviors in employees with chronic knee symptoms.

Certifications and Licenses

Internal Medicine

Training Experience

1979Residency, Mount Auburn Hospital
1982Fellowship, Brigham & Women's Hospital

Education/Academic qualification

MPH, Harvard University

… → 1982

MD, Tufts University School of Medicine

… → 1976

Research interests

  • Arthritis
  • Arthritis - Rheumatoid
  • Epidemiology
  • Health Services Research
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Physical activity
  • Preventive Medicine
  • Public Health
  • Rehabilitation/Therapy

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Research Output

  • The Relationship between Polypharmacy and Physical Activity in Those with or at Risk of Knee Osteoarthritis

    Thanoo, N., Gilbert, A. L., Trainor, S., Semanik, P. A., Song, J., Lee, J., Dunlop, D. D. & Chang, R. W., Jan 1 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • One Hour a Week: Moving to Prevent Disability in Adults With Lower Extremity Joint Symptoms

    Dunlop, D. D., Song, J., Hootman, J. M., Nevitt, M. C., Semanik, P. A., Lee, J., Sharma, L., Eaton, C. B., Hochberg, M. C., Jackson, R. D., Kwoh, C. K. & Chang, R. W., May 2019, In : American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 56, 5, p. 664-672 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 3 Scopus citations
  • 1 Scopus citations

    Preferences for physical activity: a conjoint analysis involving people with chronic knee pain

    Pinto, D., Bockenholt, U., Lee, J., Chang, R. W., Sharma, L., Finn, D. J., Heinemann, A. W., Holl, J. L. & Hansen, P., Feb 2019, In : Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. 27, 2, p. 240-247 8 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 1 Scopus citations