Current News

Dr. Iezzoni to Speak at URI on Healthcare Disparities for Individuals with Disabilities

Dr. Lisa Iezzoni, faculty member at the Health Policy Research Center and Harvard Medical School will be speaking at a virtual event as part of Honors Colloquium at the University of Rhode Island. Dr. Iezzoni’s lecture is titled “Healthcare Disparities for People with Disability” and will take place on October 27th at 7pm. This lecture is free and open to the public. Event details and the link to participate on the day of the event can be found on the URI colloquium schedule webpage.

Dr. Park and Colleagues Publish Smoking Cessation Randomized Clinical Trial in JAMA

Health Policy Research Center faculty member Dr. Elyse Park, along with colleagues from Mass General, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and the Moffitt Cancer Center have published an article titled “Effect of Sustained Smoking Cessation and Provision of Medication vs. Shorter-Term Counseling and Medication Advice on Smoking Abstinence in Patients Recently Diagnosed with Cancer.” The randomized clinical trial compares the effect of sustained telephone counseling and medication vs shorter-term telephone counseling and medication advice on 6-month smoking abstinence among patients at academic cancer hospitals recently diagnosed with cancer. The randomized clinical trial, which included 303 patients from 2 National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, found a statistically significant difference of 34.5% vs 21.5% respectively between sustained telephone counseling over 6 months and provision of free medication compared with 4-week telephone counseling and medication advice resulted in 6-month biochemically confirmed quit rates. Though the generalizability of the study findings is uncertain and requires further research, among smokers who were recently diagnosed with cancer, sustained counseling and provision of free cessation medication compared with 4-week counseling and medication advice resulted in higher 6-month biochemically confirmed quit rates.

Dr. Park is the lead author on the paper. Other co-authors include Health Policy Research Center faculty members Drs. Giselle Perez, Douglas Levy, and Nancy Rigotti as well as Health Policy Research Center staff and former staff members Emily Friedman, Julia Rabin, Colin Ponzani, and Dr. Irina Gonzalez. The article, as well as an accompanying editorial entitled “Intensive Smoking Cessation Counseling for Patients with Cancer” are available on the JAMA website.

Mongan Institute Receives $4.9 Million to Study Best Practices to Prevent COVID-19 in Staff and Residents with Serious Mental Illness and Developmental Disabilities in Congregate Living Settings

A research team led by Dr. Stephen Bartels, the James J. and Jean H. Mongan Endowed Chair of Health Policy and Community Health, Professor Medicine, and Director of the Mongan Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, has been approved for a $4.9 million funding award by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to determine best practices to prevent COVID-19 for people with serious mental illness and developmental and intellectual disabilities in congregate living settings and for the staff who provide care.

“People with serious mental illness and intellectual and developmental disabilities in group homes are among the highest risk groups in the nation with conditions vulnerable to COVID-19 and poor health outcomes,” said Dr. Bartels.

“In partnership with behavioral health organizations and patients, families, state agencies, and advocacy groups, our team of investigators at Mongan—spanning data science to health care delivery research—will conduct a two-year study will determine the most effective approaches to reducing COVID-19 risk and improving outcomes for these highly vulnerable populations, and for the staff who provide care.”

Dr. Bartels will oversee the study with co-principal investigator Dr. Brian Skotko, the Emma Campbell Endowed Chair on Down Syndrome and Director of the Down Syndrome Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Bruce Bird, CEO and President of Vinfen, will lead the community partnerships, involving approximately 400 group homes with 2,000 residents and 3,000 staff across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Six partnering behavioral health and developmental disability organizations will participate in the study (Vinfen, Bay Cove Human Services, Riverside Community Care, North Suffolk Mental Health Associates, Advocates, and Open Sky Community Services), in conjunction with the Massachusetts Departments of Mental Health and Developmental Services, Mass Advocates Standing Strong, The Arc of Massachusetts, the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Association of Mental Health, and the Massachusetts Down Syndrome Congress.

In addition to determining the effectiveness of tailoring approaches to the specific needs of people with serious mental illness and developmental and intellectual disabilities, the study team will also work to develop approaches that address COVID-19 health disparities that may be associated with race, ethnicity, and degree of disability.

“This project was selected for PCORI funding not only for its scientific merit and commitment to engaging patients and other stakeholders, but also for its potential to fill an important gap in our health knowledge and give people information to help them weigh the effectiveness of their care options,” said PCORI Executive Director Nakela L. Cook, MD, MPH. “We look forward to following the study’s progress and working with the Mongan Institute at MGH to share the results.”

The award has been approved pending completion of a business and programmatic review by PCORI staff and issuance of a formal award contract. PCORI is an independent, nonprofit organization authorized by Congress in 2010. Its mission is to fund research that will provide patients, their caregivers and clinicians with the evidence-based information needed to make better-informed healthcare decisions.

Donelan Named Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Nursing

Karen Donelan, ScD, EdM, has been named an honorary fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. This distinction is only given to top health leaders who have demonstrated a firm commitment to nursing and to transforming health policy. Each individual selected is a true champion of science, innovation, and leadership- signature initiatives of the American Academy of Nursing.

A longtime member of the Health Policy Research Center and Mongan Institute faculty at MGH, Dr. Donelan is a leading health policy and health services researcher who has led and participated in interprofessional, interdisciplinary research which has helped to positively shape public perception of nursing throughout her career. Dr. Donelan co-founded the Harvard Opinion Research Program with Dr. Robert Blendon, and has produced survey work critical to the field of nursing. Her research has been published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Health Affairs, & JAMA, among other distinguished peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Donelan was recently appointed the Stuart H. Altman Professor of US Health Policy at the Heller School of Social Policy and Management of Brandeis University, a position which she will assume September 1st.

In addition to Dr. Donelan, other 2020 Honorary Fellows include Lord Nigel Crisp, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Ahrin Mishan. Please join us in congratulating Dr. Donelan!


Dr. Vogeli Published in Science

Dr. Christine Vogeli, member of the faculty at the Health Policy Research Center, was recently a co-author on a study published in Science titled “Dissecting Racial Bias in an Algorithm Used to Manage the Health of Populations.” Dr. Vogeli and her co-authors found that a widely-used commercial algorithm exhibits significant racial bias: the authors estimate that bias in the algorithm reduces the number of Black patients identified as needing extra care by more than half. The bias is a result of the algorithm’s use of health costs as a proxy measure for health needs; less money is spent on Black patients who have the same level of need, resulting in the algorithm’s conclusion that Black patients are healthier than White patients who are equally sick.

See media coverage, including quotes from Dr. Vogeli, in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The New York Times. Dr. Vogeli and her co-authors also published an article detailing a path forward, which can be found on the Health Affairs Blog.

Mongan Institute Director Dr. Steve Bartels Delivers Keynote at MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center Community Research Day

On Friday, October 11th, Dr. Steve Bartels delivered the keynote address titled “Advancing Health Equity Through Community-Engaged Health Care Delivery Team Science” at MGH Chelsea HealthCare Center Community Research Day. In addition to serving as director of The Mongan Institute, Dr. Bartels is also the director of the Health Policy Research Center and is the James J. and Jean H. Mongan Endowed Chair in Health Policy and Community Health at MGH and Harvard Medical School.

HPRC Researchers Honored with Team Science Awards at MGH Clinical Research Day

Two faculty in our Center were honored on October 3 as part of teams that submitted winning abstracts at MGH Clinical Research Day.

Dr. Doug Levy was part of the team that won a hospital-wide award for the One-year effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of lifestyle intervention for type 2 diabetes in primary care: The REAL HEALTH-Diabetes Randomized Clinical Trial. Delahanty, Linda M.; Levy, Douglas E.; Chang, Yuchiao; Porneala, Bianca C.; Goldman, Valerie; McCarthy, Jeanna; Bissett, Laurie; Rodriguez, Anthony Romeo1; Chase, Barbara; LaRocca, Rajani; Wheeler, Amy; Wexler, Deborah J

Dr. Karen Donelan was part of the team presenting Implementing a Community Health Worker Intervention at Hospital Discharge. Carter, Jocelyn Alexandria; Walton, Anne; Hassan, Susan; Thorndike, Anne; Donelan, Karen

MGH Health Policy Rounds Return October 7 2019

We opened the 2019-2020 season of MGH Health Policy Rounds on Monday, October 7 with an inspiring talk by Dr. Ky Hunter of Brady and Georgetown University. Brady’s current work is an initiative called End Family Fire, which focuses on engaging with gun owners to reduce death and injury due to improperly stored guns in the home.

We started policy rounds last year to bring great regional and national speakers who are policy makers and/or researchers to Mass General. This year, you will hear from a wide range of speakers about deaths of despair, addiction, health workforce policy, health reform in the 2020 election, and more.

Join us! Email us at HPRC@mgh.harvard.edu to join our mailing list.

Spring 2019

MGH Health Policy Rounds wrapped up its first year on May 6 with a presentation by Iyah Romm, CEO and Co-Founder of Cityblock Health.  Cityblock is redesigning care for people in urban neighborhoods that are traditionally underserved.  Mr. Romm was previously employed at the Mass. Health Policy Commission and Commonwealth Care Alliance–roles that he drew on extensively in speaking about efforts to reach and serve patients who have lost trust in the health system.

Population Health Research Symposium June 10th! Dr. Stephen Bartels and Dr. Christine Vogeli are leading efforts for the next Partners Population Health Research Symposium to be held at Assembly Row on June 10th.

Register here:https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeo6dEptKFtb-nXVSdEKwKJQKenkOGLIH6Fl4S2K83hVje7mg/viewform

Winter 2018-2019

Elyse R. Park, Ph.D., MPH Among MGH’s Highest-Awarded Researchers
Dr. Park is currently overseeing $7.2 million in grant-funded research projects, including two $2.5 million multi-year studies funded by the national Institutes of Health (NIH).  Her studies involve the integration of mind body skills – specifically stress management and resiliency training– into tobacco treatment  for cancer patients.


Giselle Perez, PhD was recently named the Director of Adolescent and Young Adult Survivorship Research for the MGH Cancer Survivorship Program. In addition, effective February 2019, Dr. Perez will also serve as Director of Mentoring for the American Psychosocial Oncology Society.