UAB’s School of Education professor to chair Healthy Aging Community of Practice

Larrell L. Wilkinson, Ph.D., accepted the role of chair for the Healthy Aging Community of Practice for the Society for Public Health Education.
Written by: Purnima Kasthuri Janarthanan
Media contact: Tiffany Westry Womack,

larrell wilkinson 2017 2Larrell L. Wilkinson, Ph.D.Previously a regular member of the Society for Public Health Education, Larrell L. Wilkinson, Ph.D., assistant professor in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Department of Human Studies, will now chair the Society for Public Health Education’s Healthy Aging Community of Practice. 

SOPHE is a nonprofit, independent professional association whose members are diverse and from different walks of life. It comprises about 4,000 members working in schools, universities, voluntary organizations, health care settings and worksites and in local, state and federal government agencies in the United States and 25 international countries. SOPHE mainly promotes healthy behaviors, communities and environments by raising awareness of the connection between behavioral sciences, health education, health promotion and the surrounding environment.

SOPHE’s Communities of Practice allow members who share a similar role or a passion about a health topic or an area of practice, and a desire, to exchange ideas, resources, research or solutions to common issues.

SOPHE not only aims to understand factors contributing to unhealthy aging, but works to create evidence-based health promotion programs to advance healthy aging. As the chair of SOPHE’s Healthy Aging CoP, Wilkinson will help in the coordination of SOPHE’s efforts to provide needed services to the rapidly growing older adult population and to advance the field.

He will work with other organizations in the fields of population health, aging and health care on external actions.

“It is imperative,” Wilkinson said, “that I am engaged in communities and working with stakeholders to provide a designated change.”

Wilkinson’s role as chair includes: developing health education and health promotion professionals’ competencies to assure a basic understanding of aging; keeping track of the current status of older adults’ health and well-being, including disparities; evidence-based interventions to improve health and quality-of-life outcomes; and expanding opportunities for health education and health promotion specialists to provide their particular expertise throughout clinical and community settings that serve older adults.

Wilkinson will also help SOPHE to promote the adoption of healthy aging definitions and models at all levels of public health. For older adults to have longer lives with better health and less disability, he will advocate for changes in policies, systems and environments that support health across the lifespan in order to reduce the burden of disease and disability in older adults, and also to assure that older adults have ready access to health promotion and health education supports and services.

Wilkinson’s role as chair will be of great help to his current area of research, which centers around understanding racial or ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease among older Americans in order to target intervention efforts on key factors sustaining racial or ethnic health disparities.