The Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies has long been a leader in conducting program and policy evaluation to informing decision-making related to health care delivery, access to care, and quality improvement. Institute faculty and researchers have designed and executed single and mixed-method evaluations at the international, national and local levels on behalf of non-profit organizations, government agencies and private foundations.
PRL-IHPS faculty and researchers bring their tested ability to design, execute and manage complex, multi-site evaluations and their strong analytical skills. Their experience spans developing and administering quantitative and qualitative study designs, including the collection and analysis of data from telephone, mail and electronic surveys, focus groups, structured and semi-structured interviews, and secondary sources. The Institute is also at the forefront of communicating evaluation findings to diverse stakeholders through a variety of dissemination modalities. In addition to considerable technical and methodological skill, the Institute’s evaluators bring significant content expertise to their work. Among the topical areas for which the Institute is well known include:
Claire Brindis, DrPH, is Director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (PRL-IHPS) and Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy. She also serves as Director of UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and Co-Project Director for the Adolescent and Young Adult Health National Resource Center. As Principal Investigator of the School Health Services Evaluation team, she has led numerous local, state, and national evaluations of school-based health centers, reproductive health services for low income adolescents, children's health coverage initiatives, and coalitions devoted to expanding access to community clinics. Dr. Brindis incorporates a variety of research methodologies into her work, including community participatory research, quantitative, and qualitative approaches. She is particularly committed to the translation of research findings into policies and programs. Dr. Brindis helped open one of the first school-based health centers in San Francisco, California, and authored several manuscripts on school-based health centers, as well as the “Guidebook for Evaluating School-Based Health Centers,” the first comprehensive evaluation manual of its kind.
Janet M. Coffman, MA, MPP, PhD has designed and directed evaluations of health workforce initiatives. She is currently leading an evaluation of a pilot project under which paramedics are being trained to practice in expanded roles for the California HealthCare FoundationShe is also directing an evaluation of grants The California Endowment has made to the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to support training programs for primary care providers and to the Health Professions Education Foundation to fund service-contingent scholarship and loan repayment programs for health professionals. Dr. Coffman utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods, including interviews, surveys, and analyses of secondary data. She has also conducted quantitative analyses of the effects of interventions on cost, utilization, satisfaction, and health outcomes.
Mara Decker, DrPH, MHS has designed and overseen several applied research projects and evaluations focusing on reproductive health both domestically and globally. Currently, she directs the evaluation of California’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs as well as a needs assessment on adolescent reproductive health in several countries for the World Bank. Most of her work involves mixed methods and is dedicated to identifying and reducing health disparities. Previous international evaluation efforts include assessing youth-serving clinics in Kenya and the reproductive health needs of internally displaced women in Angola. Other topic areas evaluated include supportive housing services for chronically homeless individuals, STI prevention efforts among youth, and various health policies in rural California. She currently serves on the Data and Evaluation Committee of the Adolescent Health Work Group.
Annette Gardner, PhD, MPH has designed, directed and served as an advisor on national, state and local evaluations focusing on expanding access to care, insurance coverage expansions, the adoption of health information technology, and expanded advocacy capacity. She was the Director of an 8-year evaluation of The California Endowment’s Clinic Consortia Policy and Advocacy Program that paved the way for advocacy and policy change evaluation more broadly. She was the Director of a 4-year evaluation of the California HealthCare Foundations Step-by-Step Local Coverage Expansion Initiative to expand insurance coverage for uninsured children and adults. She is currently involved in designing and executing components of medical education evaluations focusing on health care provider interprofessional collaboration at the Veterans Administration Health Care System. Dr. Gardner uses a variety of qualitative research methods, including case studies, focus groups, surveys, observations, and informant interviews, as well as quantitative methods such as financial analyses and descriptive statistics. She is well-versed in working with stakeholders to apply evaluation findings to program improvement and strategic learning
Dana Hughes, DrPH, MS, has designed, directed and managed numerous complex, multi-site evaluations at the federal, state and local levels. Currently, she is co-leading an evaluation of seven oral health innovations designed to improve utilization of preventive oral health and achieve oral health outcomes. She is also co-leading a national organizations funded to engage low income and older consumers in the process of transforming the organization and delivery of health services to better meet needs and reduce costs. Dr. Hughes employs both quantitative and qualitative methods (including telephone, mail and electronic surveys, focus groups, structured and semi-structured interviews, and secondary sources) and applies substantive knowledge of issues related to health and health care issues associated with low income and other vulnerable population to help shape projects’ design, methods and implementation.
Joanne Spetz, PhD, has directed multiple evaluations of health care programs and innovative workforce education and deployment initiatives. Prior evaluation studies include the California Nurse Workforce Initiative, the Central Valley Nursing Diversity Initiative Evaluation, the VA’s health information technology systems on the nursing workforce and quality of care, implementation of an integrated information technology system in a rural hospital, the Shared Services Project of the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative, and the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative Faculty Supply Grants. Current projects include an evaluation of Oral Health Workforce Innovations, the acceleration of registered nurses to baccalaureate education, and the success of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Campaign for Action for the Future of Nursing. Dr. Spetz works with a variety of methods, including process analysis, cost analysis, surveys and individual interviews. She aims for her evaluation work to support the development of more successful programs and policies.
Sara Geierstanger, MPH, has designed and directed multiple evaluations on a variety of community health topics, including school-based health services, the impact of school health services on academic outcomes, sustainability of school-based health services, adolescent reproductive health, and community health center advocacy. As part of the School Health Services Evaluation team, her current activities include an evaluation of the Alameda County Center for Healthy Schools and Communities’ School Health Services program, as well as an evaluation of California Department of Education’s Promoting Adolescent Health through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention and School Surveillance program funded by the Centers for Disease Control. She also consults the School Based Health Alliance as they work to develop standardized performance measures for school-based health centers nationwide. Her expertise is in multi-site program evaluations using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods to inform programs and policies, including surveys, focus groups, and analysis of clinic encounter data. She is particularly committed to ensuring that the evaluation data meets the needs of the programs and funders, and translates into improved services for youth.
Shelly Kaller, MPH, has coordinated and directed program evaluations as a Senior Researcher focusing on school-based adolescent and child health programs. At PRL-IHPS, she was an Evaluation Liaison and Data Manager for over 150 teen pregnancy prevention programs funded by California’s Department of Health Services. With the School Health Services Evaluation team she has also served as Project Director for evaluations of school wellness initiatives in Oakland focused on improving nutrition and physical activity for students, as well as a school-based healthcare initiative in Colorado focused on clinic sustainability. She currently conducts an evaluation of 25 school health centers in Alameda County, a school-based behavioral health needs assessment for Fremont Unified School District, CDC-funded HIV/STD prevention programs in California public schools, and a contraceptive care study in community clinics. She uses mixed-methods including focus groups, interviews, surveys, clinic encounter data, and secondary data analysis, and has a particular passion for youth-led research. Her evaluation work is dedicated to sharing best practices to improving access to and the quality of healthcare programs and services for youth.
Sandy Ng, MPH, works in health policy research evaluation with a focus on school-based health services, children’s health insurance coverage, and adolescent health. Working full-time on the School Health Services Evaluation team, she currently coordinates the clinic-based data collection for the evaluation of 25 school health centers in Alameda County. She oversees their web-based electronic data collection database and is leading the effort to import clinic data from Electronic Health Records. In addition, Sandy is evaluating 6 school health centers in Contra Costa County through focus groups, client surveys, and analysis of clinic encounter data. She has previously evaluated school-based yoga and mindfulness programs, school-based behavioral health services, and after school programs. Finally, she has worked on quality improvement efforts with health and human services agencies throughout California to streamline outreach, enrollment, and retention in public/private health insurance programs.
Elizabeth Mertz, PhD, MA, has led, designed, executed and advised various evaluations with a focus on oral health systems, dental workforce and health disparities. She has done work with multiple foundations and educational institutes to evaluate policy initiative such as alternative practice dental hygiene and loan repayment programs in terms of improvements in access to care. She has evaluated educational programs such as the dental post-baccalaureate for their capacity to change workforce practice patterns. She is currently the co-Principal Investigator on a multi-phase NIDCR-funded program evaluation of standardized preventive dental care on reducing dental disparities in Children. Dr. Mertz employs mixed methods in her evaluation work including primary data collection though surveys, focus groups, structured and semi-structured interviews, as well as secondary data analysis. She brings substantive knowledge of the oral health system and theoretical grounding in medical sociology, health policy, and health services research issues to her projects’ design, methods and implementation. She prefers a highly collaborative process of evaluation rooted in best practices of stakeholder engagement from start to finish.
Matthew J. Niedzwiecki, PhD has worked on projects designed to improve care coordination for high-cost patients. He is currently co-leading an evaluation of the Pay for Success Project in Santa Clara county that provides permanent supportive housing for homeless individuals who are frequent users of county health care facilities, corrections, and homeless services. Previous research projects have investigated the effect of health insurance expansion on patient utilization of the emergency department and the degree to which Medicare patients select into emergency department care instead of primary care. Dr. Niedzwiecki works in quantitative analysis of secondary data, including applied econometric techniques to estimate causal effects.
Samira Soleimanpour, MPH, has led several multi-site, multi-method evaluations of school and adolescent health initiatives with the School Health Services Evaluation team. Specifically, her areas of evaluation research include school-based health centers, school-based mental health services, and teen pregnancy and parenting programs. She has also directed large-scale, community-based participatory research initiatives designed to train middle and high school students to create their own health research projects. She currently conducts evaluation work with the national School-Based Health Alliance, the California Department of Education, and several Bay area school health initiatives. She utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods in her work, including surveys, focus groups, and secondary data analysis. She is particularly committed to the translation of evaluation findings into policies and programs that improve children’s health and educational outcomes.
Renae Waneka, MPH, has managed and implemented multiple evaluations with a focus on evaluation management. Her recent work includes evaluation of an online system used to schedule clinical placements for nursing students that was supported by funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation; a mixed-methods evaluation of the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative Faculty Supply Grants, using surveys, secondary data analysis, and repeated interviews with graduates of the programs, nursing faculty, and mentors of new faculty; and guiding and managing evaluation efforts of health workforce investments made by the California Endowment. Renae has used a variety of mixed-methods techniques, including interviews, focus groups, primary data collection through surveys, secondary data analysis, and data analysis using Stata.
Jennifer Yarger, PhD, has designed and directed evaluations focusing on unintended pregnancy prevention and reproductive health services. She has been involved with the evaluation of California’s Family Planning, Access, Care, and Treatment (Family PACT) program and teenage pregnancy prevention programs. Her current work includes research and evaluation on the impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on publicly funded family planning centers. Dr. Yarger has expertise in mixed methods research and longitudinal data collection and analysis.