New Jersey Population Health Cohort Study


The NJHealth Study is designed to generate practical, actionable knowledge for improving health and wellbeing for people in New Jersey and across the nation.  It focuses on how stressors experienced throughout our lives can contribute to health and wellbeing, and what can be done to reduce the impacts of stressors on health.  The study includes participants from all over New Jersey, including groups that have a high likelihood of experiencing social and personal stressors but have been historically excluded from research. These groups include immigrants, people of color, and low-income and multi-generational families.


New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the nation and nearly a quarter of its residents are immigrants. While the state ranks among the wealthiest, we have significant and persistent health disparities. Persistent and emerging sources of stress can impact our health and well-being, as suggested in these statistics.

  • In Cumberland County, residents have an average life expectancy of 74.6 years, but in Bergen County, that number jumps to 82.1 years.
  • More than one in 10 New Jerseyans do not have a steady place to live or are worried about losing their homes. Housing instability disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities and low socioeconomic status households.
  • The maternal death rate in New Jersey is the fourth highest in the country, and black mothers are more than seven times as likely as white mothers to die from pregnancy-related complications.
  • 2.5 million New Jerseyan’s reported feeling down, depressed, or hopeless at least several days over a two-week period in a recent poll. Depression increased 15% from 15.2% to 17.5% of adults between 2020 and 2021.
  • New Jersey is ranked the worst state in the nation for physical environment, which includes factors like air, water quality, climate change, housing, and transit.

New and in-depth data, collected over time, are needed to better understand the factors that contribute to or reduce these disparities. The NJHealth Study, led by the Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research, is collecting these data to produce insights that can be used to improve the lives of all New Jersey residents.


The study is enrolling about 10,000 participants ages 14 and older from across New Jersey, with an emphasis on historically disadvantaged groups, multi-generational families, and immigrants, including Asian Indian, Chinese, Dominican, Filipino, Haitian, Jamaican, Korean, Mexican, Nigerian immigrants, as well as those as who entered the US seeking asylum, under temporary protected status, or related immigration authorities.  The researchers will combine information from participant surveys and other sources such as lab tests and activity measures to help understand what drives stress and health.  Joel  C. Cantor, ScD is Principal Investigator of the NJHealth Study, which is guided by a leadership team including Paul Duberstein, PhD, William Hu, MD, PhD, FAAN, Dawne Mouzon, PhD, MPH, and Michael Yedidia, PhD, MPH.


The NJHealth Study is being conducted with the active involvement of community representatives and stakeholders. To get involved or learn more, visit or contact us: 888-676-0555 or

Support for this study was provided in part by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation.

Support is also provided in part by Rutgers University and the State of New Jersey. Updated October 2023.

  1. What are the goals/aims of the study?
    • The goal of the New Jersey Population Health Cohort Study is to better understand the relationship between stress, resilience, and health within families in New Jersey. We are particularly interested in exploring the specific roles of individual-level, family-level, and community-level factors that impact health and wellbeing.
  2. What is a longitudinal, cohort study?
    • A longitudinal cohort study is a method of research that follows a specific group of people over time.  Cohort studies are valuable and informative as they help us understand the causes and effect of health outcomes over a period of time. 
  3. Who will be conducting the study?
    • This study will be led by Joel Cantor, ScD, director of the Center for State Health Policy. This study is also guided by a team of community and state partners and researchers with a broad range of expertise in disciplines including clinical psychology, sociology, medicine, and population health. 
  4. Who is funding this study?
  5. What are the populations of interest in this study?
    • We will conduct this study with multi-generational families in New Jersey, with an emphasis on immigrant populations. In New Jersey, the largest and fastest-growing populations are Indian, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Mexican, Dominican, Nigerian, Afro-Carribean, and refugee/asylee groups. We are collaborating with key stakeholders within each of these groups to build trust for this study and ensure that our findings are relevant for the populations. 
  6. How many people will be recruited?
    • We aim to recruit 10,000 individuals from across the state for this study.
  7. What is the estimated timeline for beginning data collection?
    • We anticipate beginning data collection in Summer 2021.

Scientific Advisory Board

Kyriakos Markides, PhD
University of Texas
Longitudinal Study of Mexican American Elderly Health

Julien Teitler, PhD
Columbia University
Robin Hood Poverty Tracker Study (Columbia)
Fragile Families Study (Princeton U)

Linda Waite, PhD
University of Chicago
National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project (NSHAP)

Renee Storandt, PhD
Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)

Jessica Faul, PhD
University of Michigan
Health and Retirement Study (HRS)

Sandra Brown, PhD
University of California San Diego
Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD)

Gilbert Gee, PhD
University of California Los Angeles
Philippine Emigrants Study (HoPES)

Steven Wallace, PhD
University of California Los Angeles
California Health Interview Survey (CHIS)

Executive Committee

Ayse Akincigil, PhD
Associate Professor
Rutgers School of Social Work

Sarah Allred, PhD
Faculty Director
Walter Rand Institute for Public Affairs
Associate Professor, Psychology
Rutgers University-Camden

Elisa Bandera, MD, PhD
Chief of Cancer Epidemiology & Health Outcomes
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Steven Cohen, PhD, MS
Vice President, Division for Statistical and Data Sciences
RTI International

Peter Guarnaccia, PhD
Rutgers Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research

Shawna Hudson, PhD
Professor & Research Division Chief
Research Division, Department of Family Medicine & Community Health, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Anita Kinney, PhD
Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Center for Cancer Health Equity, Rutgers School of Public Health
Associate Director for Population Science and Community Outreach Director
ScreenNJ, Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Larry Kleinman, MD
Professor and Vice Chair for Academic Development
Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Ashley Koning, PhD
Rutgers Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling

Robert Laumbach, MD, MPH, CIH
Associate Professor
Rutgers School of Public Health

Sharon Manne, PhD
Associate Director
Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey

Dawne Mouzon, PhD
Associate Professor
Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy

Lenna Nepomnyaschy, PhD
Associate Professor
Rutgers School of Social Work

Jag Sunderram, MD ATSF
Professor of Medicine and Associate Director
Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

Michael Yedidia, PhD
Rutgers Center for State Health Policy

State & Community Advisory Committee

  • Community Organizations
    • Legal Services of New Jersey
    • New Brunswick Tomorrow
    • Council of New Jersey Grantmakers
    • Princeton Area Community Foundation
    • RWJF New Jersey Health Initiatives
    • New Jersey Office for Refugees (IRC)
    • Advocates for Children of New Jersey
    • The Hispanic Family Center of Southern New Jersey
    • Holy Name Medical Center
    • South Asian Total Health Initiative
    • RWJBarnabas Health
  • Rutgers University
    • Rutgers-Newark
    • Center for Women and Work
    • School of Social Work
    • School of Public Health
    • Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling
    • Department of Family Medicine & Community Health
  • NJ State Agencies
    • Office of Population Health
    • Office of Minority & Multicultural Health
    • Department of Human Services
    • Office of New Americans
    • Division of Medical Assistance & Health Services (Medicaid)
    • Department of Children & Families
    • Office of Attorney General
    • Department of Labor and Workforce Development