June 2021


Director's Notes 

Eighteen years ago, the World Health Organization suggested that factors such as income inequality, early life experiences, stress, work, food, and transportation were "social determinants of health", and five years later the WHO Commission on the Social Determinants of Health published its report on the issue. The Affordable Care Act incorporated many of the ideas of the WHO Commission into its framework, accelerating policy and research in this area. Faculty and staff at IHPS have contributed substantially to knowledge and policy change in this area, and this month we highlight groundbreaking research from several faculty. There are many more in our community working in this area, and after you read the feature articles below, I encourage you to check out the work of Laura Gottlieb, who leads the SIREN Network (Social Interventions Research & Evaluation Network), Matt Pantell, who focuses on social issues and pediatric health, Bob Hiatt, who has led countless studies aimed at cancer prevention and early detection, Hilary Seligman, who founded EatSF to provide fruit and vegetable vouchers for people with low incomes, Jahan Fahimi, who leads pioneering research on firearms and community violence, Margot Kushel, who leads the UCSF Center for Vulnerable PopulationsKirsten Bibbins-Domingo, who is Vice-Dean of Population Health and Health Equity, and Kim Rhoads, who works closely with communities to address social needs and expand access to services. Many other IHPS researchers have touched on social determinants of health in their studies, and we all benefit from UCSF's dedication to health equity.

Joanne Spetz


PRL-IHPS Focus on
Social Determinants of Health

Learn more about some of the work of PRL-IHPS faculty focused on social determinants of health (SDOH). Rita Hamad, MD, PhD is currently studying the effects of school racial segregation on cardiovascular risk factors among Black youth. Julia Adler-Milstein, PhD,  Laura Gottlieb, MD and Matt Pantell, MD, MS  are looking at the application of information technologies to capture and apply SDOH. Oanh Nugyen, MD, MAS is looking at transitional care to to improve post-hospital recovery and health outcomes after hospitalization for cardiovascular illness. Hemal Kanzaria, MD and Maria Raven, MD, MPH are the co-directors of a new section in the Department of Emergency Medicine focused on Social Emergency Medicine. Read more

Photo: Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital Social Emergency Medicine team volunteering at a COVID-19 vaccination site at Glide Memorial.


Philip R. Lee Health Policy @AcademyHealth 

We are pleased that many PRL-IHPS faculty and research staff will present at the 2021 AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, June 14-16.  Below are a sampling of some of the presentations.  We will be Tweeting presentations next week @UCSF_IHPS.

  • "National Practice Patterns of Post-Graduate Trained Dentists" (presenting author: Beth Mertz, PhD)  
  • "Trends in Post-Graduate Dental Training" (presenting author: Aubri Kottek)  
  • "The Select Study: Safe, Equitable, Learning Environments for Children during the COVID-19 Pandemic" (presenting author: Sunitha Kaiser, MD, poster session: Public and Population Health")
  • "Stepped-Wedge Randomized Clinical Trial of Social Marketing Strategies to Improve Adherence to Remote Monitoring Among Veterans with Pacemakers and Implantable Cardioverter-Defibrillators" (recorded presentation by Sanket Dhruva, MD, as part of the session, "Patient Engagement through Greater Dissemination")
  • "Changes in Registered Nurse Employment and Education Capacity during the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Risk of Future Shortages" (presenting author Joanne Spetz, PhD, ARM Session: The Unequal Effect of COVID on the Health Workforce: Early Evidence from National Surveys and Interviews)
  • "Implementing Statewide Screening for Adverse Childhood Experiences in Medi-Cal during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency" (presenting author Matt Pantell, MD, in poster session: Coverage, Access, and Medicaid)





How does income affect mental health and health behaviors? A quasi-experimental study of the earned income tax credit.



Using a large diverse national data set and a quasi-experimental design, Rita Hamad, MD, PhD, and colleagues detail the findings of their study which examined the effects of the earned income tax credit (EITC)—the largest US poverty alleviation program for families with children—on mental health and health behaviors. Published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, this study comes at an important time, when the EITC has been expanded as part of recent federal COVID relief policies, and when there is much focus on the health effects of economic policies more generally.
Read more



 Practices, challenges, and opportunities when addressing the palliative care needs of people living with dementia: Specialty memory care provider perspectives



Palliative care focuses on reducing suffering and improving quality of life for individuals with serious illness and their families. In an effort to develop palliative care interventions for specialty memory care clinics, Alissa Bernstein Sideman, PhD, MPH, MA, Krista Harrison, PhD, Sarah Garrett, PhD, and colleagues share the findings of their recent study in Alzheimer's & Dementia:Translational Research & Clinical Interventions that characterizes memory care providers' perspectives on addressing palliative care needs of people living with dementia (PLWD).  Read more


 Type 2 Diabetes as a Socioecological Disease:
Can Youth Poets of Color Become Messengers of
Truth and Catalysts for Change?


Dean Schillinger, MD, recently received the World Health Organization's inaugural Non-Communicable Disease Policy Lab Award  for his work developing and disseminating The Bigger Picture campaign as a means to prevent diabetes in the next generation. Engaging youth poets of color to develop artistic content to combat Type-2 diabetes (T2D) can increase their public health literary and social activation and foster compelling art that communicates how complex, multilevel forces interact to generate disease and disease disparities were the findings of Schillinger and colleagues in a recent Health Promotion Practices article.  Read more



PRL-IHPS faculty are responding to policy challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic with rapid-cycle research and technical assistance. A compilation of their work to date is available on a regularly updated webpage. One recent publication is
by Maria Glymour, ScD, MS,  Margot Kushel, MD, Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS and colleagues, "Excess Mortality in California During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Pandemic, March to August 2020", published in JAMA.  Read more about our work to address the COVID pandemic here.


Read more about additional PRL-IHPS research here



IHPS Faculty Spotlight 

Catherine Chen, MD

Dr. Catherine L. Chen is a board-certified anesthesiologist and health services researcher with a primary research interest in optimizing the quality and value of care patients receive during the perioperative period. She holds an appointment as Assistant Professor in the UCSF Department of Anesthesia & Perioperative Care and at the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. Her research program is focused on identifying and reducing low-value care, especially instances of perioperative healthcare overutilization that may not be of benefit and can cause potential harm to surgical patients. She employs large datasets, such as Medicare claims and the OptumLabs Data Warehouse, as well as interdisciplinary and cross-institutional collaborations to conduct her research. 

Dr. Chen's studies have highlighted the increased risk of delayed surgery and falls associated with the overuse of routine preoperative testing in cataract surgery patients as well as the unintended consequences of inappropriate opioid prescription, including opioid over-prescription at hospital discharge. Using quantitative and qualitative approaches, Dr. Chen's current work aims to improve our understanding of anesthesia resource utilization during cataract surgery to better allocate anesthesia personnel to those cataract patients who may benefit most from having an anesthesiologist supervising their care intraoperatively. Other areas of interest include perioperative healthcare disparities, COVID-19's impact on surgical care, and environmental sustainability in the operating room.  

Dr. Chen sits on the editorial boards of Anesthesia & Analgesia and the Canadian Journal of Anesthesia and holds national leadership positions representing key organizations including AcademyHealth's Surgical and Perioperative Interest Group, the Foundation for Anesthesia Education and Research, and the Early Stage Anesthesiology Scholars. 


Upcoming Events



IHPS Grand Rounds
Thomás Aragón, MD, DrPH
Director, California Department of Public Health 

July 21, 12 - 1 pm, Register here



PRL-IHPS In The News



About The Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies

The Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (PRL-IHPS) contributes to the solution of complex and challenging health policy problems through leadership in research, training, technical assistance, and public service. Our special competence lies in translating research across disciplines and fields to inform health policy. We undertake this work with a commitment to improve health and health care within local, state, national, and international communities and with a focus on improving the health of vulnerable populations.


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