Joel S. Weissman, PhD, Awarded $4.4M National Institutes of Health Grant

Joel S. Weissman, PhD, has been awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant for his study “Understanding and Improving Surgical Decision-Making for Persons Living with Dementia, their Family Caregivers, and their Providers: A Mixed Methods Study.

Surgical decision-making is challenging for persons living with dementia (PLWD) due to limited longitudinal data on outcomes, a patient’s limited ability to fully participate in the discussion, and an absence of evidence-based guidelines. The aim of this study is to understand the epidemiology of surgery for PLWD, as well as patient, caregiver, and provider practices and challenges of surgical decision-making in clinical settings. We focus on surgery because it is common among elderly PLWDs, represents a critical inflection point in quality of life, and therefore is a fraught process for all involved.

Results of our study will support key advancements in ADRD research by focusing on under-studied areas of surgical decision-making by key stakeholders. Currently, there is a need to understand the landscape of surgical decision-making among PLWDs and providers prior to assessing surgical outcomes among these patients. Results will provide critical data to inform training on how best to care for PLWDs facing surgery and support policy decisions designed to improved patient-centered care. Surgeons and other providers along with patients and their caregivers will be able to use these data to improve surgical decision-making to align care with patient values.

Joel Weissman, PhD
Joel Weissman, PhD

Joel S. Weissman, PhD
Deputy Director and Chief Scientific Officer, Center for Surgery and Public Health, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor of Surgery (Health Policy), Harvard Medical School

Joel S. Weissman, PhD, is deputy director and chief scientific officer of the Center for Surgery and Public Health (CSPH) at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and professor of surgery in health policy at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Weissman received his doctorate in health policy from the Pew Fellows Program at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management – Brandeis University. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed articles and has led numerous externally funded studies.

In addition to surgical health services, his research interests lie in the areas of patient-centered quality and safety, payment reform, disparities/vulnerable populations, uncompensated care, drug policy, comparative effectiveness research policy, and academic-industry relationships. He was the lead evaluator for the roll-out of Consumer’s Union Best Buy Drugs program, and his early work on access to care by the uninsured led to a co-authored book, “Falling Through the Safety Net: Insurance Status and Access to Care,” with a forward by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

During 2008-10, Dr. Weissman served as senior health policy advisor to the secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services (HHS), followed by two months as visiting faculty at the Mexico National Institute of Public Health in Cuernavaca. During his time with Massachusetts HHS, he led the planning effort for a multi-million dollar statewide all-payer medical home pilot and examined the budgetary impact of universal health coverage in Massachusetts (NEJM perspective). In addition, he provided strategic thinking on public reporting of re-hospitalizations, non-payment for serious reportable events, improving care transitions, comparative effectiveness research and reducing racial and ethnic disparities.

Dr. Weissman is co-director of a course on health services research methods at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health (portions of which have been taught in Singapore, Puerto Rico and Mexico), and serves as a tutor/seminar leader in the health policy course for HMS students.