Karen Colorafi, PhD, MBA, RN

Assistant Professor, Nursing

Dr. Karen Colorafi is devoted to designing, conducting, and evaluating high-quality science of health care delivery research that moves us closer to the quadruple aim objectives of healthier populations, better care, lower costs, and happier clinicians. Her...

Karen Colorafi

Contact Information

Education & Curriculum Vitae

PhD, Arizona State University

MBA, University of Phoenix

Post-graduate Certificate, Parish Nursing, Trinity Western University

Post-graduate Certificate, Coronary Care, George Brown College

BScN, University of Toronto

BSc, University of Calgary

Courses Taught

NURS 561: Information Technology and Data Management

NURS 713: Population Health Outcomes

NURS 730: Clinical Program Development, Implementation, and Evaluation

NURS 762: Integrative Application of Evidence for Advanced Practice III

NURS 762: Integrative Application of Evidence for Advanced Practice II

NURS 761: Integrative Application of Evidence for Advanced Practice I

Dr. Karen Colorafi is devoted to designing, conducting, and evaluating high-quality science of health care delivery research that moves us closer to the quadruple aim objectives of healthier populations, better care, lower costs, and happier clinicians.

Her PhD in leadership and innovation from Arizona State University focused on the use of health information technology to engage older adults with multiple chronic cardiac diagnoses with their physician-created plan of care. Her pre-doctoral funding included a multi-year NIH “T32” disparities fellowship and a Hartford scholarship. She has completed post-doctoral training in NIH-sponsored programs in big data (NINR, OHSU) and dissemination and implementation science (ASU).

Dr. Colorafi teaches research methods, clinical informatics, team-based project leadership, and analytics at the graduate level. The exceptional Gonzaga University mission affords Dr. Colorafi the opportunity to bring issues of social justice, diversity, and global engagement into the classroom. She has multiple publications and co-written dozens of grant applications. She is currently working as the methodologist on several science of health care delivery (i.e.: outcome) studies. Dr. Colorafi is pleased and humbled to be a 2020/2021 Gonzaga University Mission in Ministry grant recipient.

Prior to working on her PhD, Dr. Colorafi spent her clinical career devoted to the care of older adults with cardiac disease and in clinical informatics, helping physician offices to select, implement, and optimize electronic health records. Her experience as both a clinical nurse and healthcare technology

analyst give her unique insight into the needs of medical practices. She specializes in operational assessments, including workflow analyses, and the resultant development of strategic plans to solve front line problems with health care delivery. She continues to use a “people, process, product” philosophy to guide her work.

Making a difference at the point of care is most important to Dr. Colorafi; sometimes that means reducing the burden of documentation for a clinician, improving the health literacy of an e-document for a patient, operationalizing an algorithm to assist in clinical decision making, or testing an innovation in service delivery. She believes that by thoughtfully evaluating bold and courageous and ideas, we bring innovation to the healthcare system and ultimately do a better job of caring for the sick and vulnerable members of our society.

Dr. Karen Colorafi is married to Dr. Joseph Colorafi, a senior Vice President at the country’s largest Catholic, not-for-profit healthcare system, where he runs an advanced office of analytics. Together they love traveling in their time off and exploring new places. They are pleased to have brought to their new home in Washington state, a Students in Medicine summer program which inspires minority high school students toward careers in the health sciences. Drs. Joseph and Karen Colorafi are the founding board members of Translational Health, a foundation that seeks to collect and apply data and information to analytics insights that improve the health of the general population and communities it serves.

Some recent, peer-reviewed articles include:

McKeirnan KC, Colorafi KJ, Park, Kim, AP, Stewart, AS, Bray, B, Remsberg, C. (2019). Student Study Behaviors associated with Academic Success in an Active Classroom Pharmacy Curriculum. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education. E-pub ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.5688/ajpe7695


Colorafi, K., Ferrell, K., D’Andrea, A., & Colorafi, J. (2019). Influencing clinical outcomes with automated sepsis time zero through statistical validation and process improvement. mHealth, 5(36), e1-8. DOI: 10.21037/mhealth.2019.09.04


McKeirnan KC, Colorafi KJ, Panther SG, Potyk D, McCarthy J. (2019). Provider Education About Pneumococcal Vaccination Practices for Older Adults. The Senior Care Pharmacist, 34(7), 432-438. DOI: 10.4140/TCP.n.2019.432.


Berry, S. & Colorafi, K. (2019). The impact of communication surrounding intrauterine anomaly diagnoses: An integrated review. Journal of Perinatal and Neonatal Nursing, 33(4), 301-311. DOI: 10.1097/JPN.0000000000000390


Colorafi, K., Greenes, R., & Kates, M. (2018). Preferences of older adults and their families for Meaningful Use clinical summaries. mHealth, 4:8. DOI: 10.21037/mhealth.2018.03.04.


Altman, M., Colorafi, K., Daratha, K. (2018). The reliability of electronic health record data used for obstetrical research. Journal of Applied Clinical Informatics, 9(1), 156-162. DOI: 10.1055/s-0038-1627475


Colorafi, K., Moua, L., Ricker, D., & Postma, J. (2018). Assessing the value of the Meaningful Use Clinical Summary for patients and families with pediatric asthma. Journal of Asthma. DOI: 10.1080/02770903.2017.1391283


Colorafi, K., D’Andrea, A., Ferrell, K. & Colorafi, J. (2018). Influencing clinical outcomes with automated sepsis time zero through statistical validation and process improvement. Implementation Science, 13(Suppl 4): S24(p.13). DOI: 10.1186/s13012-018-0728-7

Colorafi, K., McKeirnan, K., Panther, S., Temple, S., Potyk, D., & McCarthy, J. (2018). Assessing pneumococcal vaccination availability in under-vaccinated rural counties: Pharmacists’ perspective. The Consultant Pharmacist, 33: 163-170. DOI: 10.4140/TCP.n.2018.163

Colorafi, K., Vanselow, J., & Nelson, T. (2017). Reducing barriers to access increases patient engagement with treatment for anxiety and depression in primary care: A practice-based quality improvement project. Journal of Family Practice Management, July/August, 11-16.


Colorafi, K., & Evans, B. (2017). Conducting patient-centered research using qualitative descriptive design. Sage Research Methods Cases. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4135/9781526405432


Colorafi, K. & Bailey, B. (2016). It’s time for innovation in the Health Insurance and Portability Act (HIPAA). Journal of Medical Internet Research, 4(4), e34. DOI: 10.2196/medinform.6372


Wadsworth, P., Colorafi, K., & Shearer, N. (2016). Using Narratives to Enhance Nursing Practice and Leadership: What Makes a Good Nurse? Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 12(1), 28-31. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.teln.2016.08.001


Colorafi, K. (2016). Connected Health: A Review of the Literature. mHealth, 2(13), 1-15.

DOI: 10.21037/mhealth.2016.03.09


Jiggins Colorafi, K., & Evans, B. (2016). Qualitative Descriptive Methods in Health Science Research. Health Environments Research & Design Journal (HERD), 9(4), 16-25. doi.org/10.1177/1937586715614171


Jiggins, K. (2015). A Content Analysis of the MU Clinical Summary: Do Clinical Summaries Promote Patient Engagement? Primary Health Care Research & Development, 20, 1-14. doi:10.1017/S1463423615000353


Jiggins Colorafi, K . (2014). Computer Use By Older Adults: A Review of the Literature. Journal of Gerontology and Geriatric Research, 3(4), 164-177. DOI: 10.4172/2167-7182.1000164


Marek, K., Stetzer, F., Adams, S., Denison Bub, L., Schildt, A., & Jiggins Colorafi, K. (2014). Cost effectiveness of home-based nurse care coordination. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 62, 2369-2376. DOI: 10.1111/jgs.13162


Morse, J., Pooler, C., Vann-Ward, T., Maddox, Olausson, J., Roche-Dean, M., Colorafi, K., Madden, C., Rogers, B., & Martz, K. (2014). Awaiting Diagnosis of Breast Cancer: Strategies of Enduring for Preserving Self. Oncology Nursing Forum, 41(4), 350-359. PMID: 24969245


Informatics and Analytics

Dr. Colorafi is PI on a study that examines patient outcomes utilizing a team-based approach to caring for patients with multiple cardiac diagnoses. This study involves a big data set from five years of encounters in an ambulatory cardiac practice and multiple quantitative analytic techniques. There are multiple planned publications and many graduate students working on this project.

In a collaboration with health science librarians and practicing informaticians, Dr. Colorafi is leading a scoping review of the literature that documents the work performed in the health case space using predictive algorithms to improve healthcare.

In order to enhance the ability of older adults to co-create and follow a plan of care, Dr. Colorafi and Dr. Chris Trudeau are examining and re-designing the clinical summaries (after visit summaries) provided to patients discharged from the emergency department with three critical conditions.

Qualitative Descriptive Methodology

Disability Stories is a research project of the Collaborative on Health Reform and Independent Living (chril.org) that seeks to document and advocate responsive public policies for people with disabilities. The study elicits feedback from people with disabilities on the impact of recent federal disability policy. Dr. Colorafi is the qualitative methodologist on the study, lead by Dr. Jae Kennedy.

Power and Privilege in the Ivory Tower is a qualitative descriptive research study that examines the phenomena of power and privilege experienced by faculty, staff, and students in academic settings. Visit and contribute to this ongoing project at https://powerandprivilege.com/

Science of healthcare delivery

Dr. Colorafi was the Co-PI on a foundation grant that explored the use of academic detailing to improve pneumococcal vaccinations among rural dwelling older adults, and the PI on a second foundation-funded grant proposal currently under review that seeks to test the academic detailing intervention in a randomized controlled trial. Academic detailing is a peer-to-peer intervention that seeks to improve knowledge and implementation of evidence-based guidelines in clinical practice. She is currently PI on a literature review project that seeks to evaluate the state of the science among academic detailing interventions in primary care.