Numerous faculty within the department have a primary interest in research blended with their clinical and teaching responsibilities. Noted below are the research faculty with administrative responsibilities for the research mission of the department (Linda Weinreb, MD, Carole Upshur, EdD and Judy Savageau, MPH), followed (alphabetically) by research faculty with on-going projects.
Linda Weinreb, MD, Vice Chair for Research and Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a nationally recognized expert on the health needs of homeless families as well as the integration of behavioral health services in primary care, especially for women and disadvantaged populations. Dr. Weinreb has extensive expertise in the development, implementation, and evaluation of service interventions that integrate behavioral health services with primary health care for homeless and low income adults, women and families. Her epidemiologic and intervention studies with homeless populations have helped to define the health needs of homeless mothers and children, impacted state and federal policy, and substantially informed clinical practice, program design, and program replication across the country. Dr. Weinreb also has substantial expertise in approaches to integrate mental health care into primary health care settings, particularly for disadvantaged populations. She has conducted funded research from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Her current studies include an NIMH-funded study testing and integrated depression and primary care intervention for homeless mothers and a Maternal and Child Health Bureau/HRSA funded study to adapt and test an evidence-based intervention for pregnant women with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Carole Upshur, EdD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Associate Dean, Graduate School of Biomedical Services, has over 30 years of experience as a researcher in the areas of education, mental health, disability, and health care. She has received funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Agency for Health Care Quality ad Research, the Health Services Research Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the US Department of Education. Her current work is focused on managing chronic illness such as depression, diabetes, substance abuse, and chronic pain in primary care and developmental outcomes for young at-risk children. She has expertise in developing training and quality improvement materials for both providers and patients, as well as implementing QI in primary care. She has conducted studies on prevention of behavior problems in young children enrolled in preschool programs and currently has a large classroom RCT investigating an executive functioning and social/emotional development intervention in 64 preschool classrooms in Worcester County. She serves as an academic partner to the Health Care for the Homeless PBRN which has 35 sites nationally and has recently been funded to conduct a nationally representative epidemiological study of women's alcohol and drug use and co-occurring mental health problems among women using Health Care for the Homeless primary care clinics.
Judy Savageau, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is an epidemiologist and biostatistician with over 25 years of experience in a variety of investigations of community-based, public health issues. Her particular interests include maternal and child health as well as the identification of factors related to the utilization of health care and compliance with preventive heatlh measures. The relationship between these outcomes and the development of programs to improve the quality of medical care are a focus for her research endeavors - especially as they relate to medical education and faculty development efforts. In addition to her research activities, she spends considerable time teaching at the medical school in Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Quality Improvement and Patient Safety, Scientific Writing, Preventive Medicine/Public Health, facilitiating journal clubs, and as the Director of the Senior Scholars Program for 4th year medical students.
Lucy Candib, MD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, was in the first graduating class of the Worcester Family Practice Residency in 1976 and has been a faculty member practicing, teaching, and conducting research at the Family Health Center of Worcester for over 33 years. Within the context of long-term doctor-patient relationships, she has put feminist principles to work in a multicultural setting. Dr. Candib has also focused attention on the concerns of women trainees and practitioners, and has lectured widely on the topics of sexual abuse and violence against women. The author of numerous articles, Dr. Candib has introduced a feminist critique of medical theory in her book, Medicine and the Family: A Feminist Perspective. In 1995 she won a Fulbright grant to teach family medicine in Ecuador and she continued her involvement with Ecuador as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in 2004. In 2001, she was the first department faculty member to adopt group visit methodology for working with people with diabetes and continues to conduct groups in English and Spanish. In 2010, Dr.Candib, together with co-author and co-editor Sara. G. Shields MD, published their well received book, Woman-Centered Care of Pregnancy and Birth. She is an active member of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and is on the steering committee of the Wonca Working Party on Women and Family Medicine.
Suzanne Cashman, ScD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Director of Community Health, is trained as a health services researcher and evaluator. Her evaluation research experience has included assessing the WKKellogg Foundation supported community-oriented primary care national urban demonstration project, as well as a state-supported initiative to develop and evaluate interprofessional health care delivery teams in community health centers. Overall, Dr. Cashman's work has focused on developing applied implementation initiatives that used a community-engaged approach and that strive to use principles of community-based participatory research. She has provided evaluation assistance to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention supported Center for Excellence in Eliminating Disparities and a Health Resources and Services Administration funded oral health case manager project that provides services to HIV positive patients. Currently, Dr. Cashman serves as evaluator for the Massachusetts statewide Area Health Education Center Network, and as Co-Director for the Community Engagement Section of the school's recently funded Center for Clinical and Translational Science as well as for its Center for Health Equity Intervention Research. In addition, she is a core investigator for the school's Worcester County Prevention Research Center. A common thread in her evaluation research work is Dr. Cashman's commitment to ensuring that programs aimed at providing healthcare services to low-income and vulnerable populations reach their goals.
Robin Clark, PhD, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a core faculty member in the Clinical and Population Health Research doctoral training program. Robin specializes in the economic evaluation of health care interventions and policies and has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed articles in that area, primarily related to mental health and substance abuse. His work has been funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Mental Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and by health and human service agencies in all of the New England States. Robin's current work focuses on efforts to manage costs and improve the quality and effectiveness of care of individuals with chronic illness, with a particular focus on primary care for Medicaid beneficiaries and other underserved populations. His recent publications include analyses of how state laws impact evidence-based treatment for opioid addiction, criminal justice involvement by Medicaid beneficiaries with substance use disorders, and care management for high cost Medicaid "super utilizers".
Joseph DiFranza, MD, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is an internationally recognized expert on teens and tobacco. Since 1980, Dr. DiFranza has been conducting research on the topic of tobacco. Winning numerous scientific and citizen activist awards for his work, Dr. DiFranza's research covers a range of tobacco-related topics including tobacco addiction, the effects of tobacco advertising, tobacco industry public relations programs, and the effects of environmental tobacco smoke. Dr. DiFranza is widely recognized for his contribution to the efforts to prevent the illegal sale of tobacco to children. He has a significant history of funding from the Massachusetts Tobacco Control Program, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Drug Abuse. With over 110 published papers in peer-reviewed journals, plus countless other writings and presentations, Dr. DiFranza has been recognized as one of the most influential people in the fight against tobacco during the last 25 years.
Jack Gettens, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a Research Scientist at the Center for Health Policy and Research. Jack conducts research on employment and healthcare of persons with disabilities in addition to research on public health topics. He has expertise in both quasi-experimental and qualitative research methods. Dr. Gettens recently conducted a number of healthcare reform research studies including: an assessment of the effects of the Affordable Care Act on persons with disabilities, a quasi-experimental estimate of the effects of the Massachusetts healthcare reform on the health insurance and cost-related problems obtaining care among persons with disabilities, an assessment of the complexities of the subsidized health insurance application process for persons with disabilities, and a study of the employment-related health insurance needs of persons with disabilities. Dr. Gettens' public health research focuses on smoking behavior, quit attempts and the use of tobacco cessation treatments among Massachusetts Medicaid members.
Deborah Gurewich, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is an Associate Director with the Center for Health Policy and Research. Dr. Gurewich is a health services researcher with over 15 years of experience as an evaluation and policy researcher in areas of primary care, care coordination, and program implementation. She has conducted funded research from The Commonwealth Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services. Dr. Gurewich's work focuses on organizational behavior and change, especially in service delivery programs. Much of her current work has focused on the cost and quality of care in community health centers (CHCs), including how CHC performance compare to other primary care providers and the operational practices associated with especially high performing CHCs. Methodologically, her research has depended on a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques, including case studies and survey methodologies. Dr. Gurewich has extensive experience using comparative case studies of organizational decision-making and in the design and management of multi-site data collection efforts.
Heather-Lyn Haley, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is the project manager for community health initiatives within the department. Her current professional and scholarly interests include the use of medical-legal partnerships to address social determinants of health; racism, white privilege and racial/ethnic health disparities; and the use of service learning pedagogy in medical school curricula. Her current research, conducted in partnership with Community Legal Aid of Central MA and the Central West Justice Center, uses CBPR and mixed methods to better understand the legal needs of refugees. She is also a member of the UMMS Center for Health Equity Intervention Research Community Engagement Core, where she supports research using story-telling methodology to improve research literacy and participation among populations currently under-represented in clinical research.
Lee Hargraves, PhD, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, focuses his research on patient and consumer assessments of health care to improve quality of medical care. He has extensive experience developing and using survey methods to assess health care quality from patients' perspectives. Dr. Hargraves' research has contributed to national efforts to document racial and ethnic disparities in health care. His current interests focus on treatment of disparities in health care as an opportunity for improving health care quality. With colleagues in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Dr. Hargraves has developed and tested curricula to teach community health workers to support patients living with chronic conditions. In the new UMass Center for Health Equity Intervention Research, he currently is principal investigator of a study funded by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities to train and deploy community health workers to use motivational interviewing to suppport patients with hypertension in their efforts to control blood pressure.
Jay Himmelstein, MD, MPH, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is the Chief Health Policy Strategist and Senior Advisor to the Disability Health and Employment Group for the Center for Health Policy and Research. His professional career in research, policy development and service is dedicated to improving health care and health outcomes for those served by the public sector with a special emphasis on people with disabilities, leading him to be a nationally recognized physician, educator and researcher. His most recent work has focused on providing support for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act at the State and National level. Recent publications have focused on the technology vision and challenges faced by the ACA Health Benefit Marketplaces.
Wen-Chieh Lin, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a Senior Project Director in the Center for Health Policy and Research. His research focuses on improving health care delivery, financing, and outcomes for vulnerable populations. Dr. Lin has extensive experience in using Medicare and Medicaid administrative databases, all-payer claims databases, and outcomes assessment data for research and economic evaluation. His work has been funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and Massachusetts state agencies, including the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, the Office of Medicaid, and the Center for Health Information and Analysis. He has investigated the impact of changes in Medicare post-acute payment systems, examined healthcare utilization and expenditures for elders with behavioral health disorders, studied approaches for care integration/coordination for the homeless population, and evaluated a health coaching program for Medicaid members with multiple chronic conditions. His current work focuses on developing new care management opportunities for people with complex care needs. He is also using an all-payer claims database to investigate the adoption and the impact of high deductible health plans in Massachusetts.
Roger Luckmann, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a primary care internist with advanced training and experience in health services research and in medical informatics. He has been involved in research on promoting cancer screening for more than 15 years. With support from NIH, CDC and the Komen Foundation, he and his colleagues have focused on the development and evaluation of innovative, computer-assisted telephone counseling programs for promoting breast and colon cancer screening and for supporting informed decision-making on prostate cancer screening. Dr. Luckmann also has an active interest in chronic pain management in primary care and has developed a handheld electronic pain diary that he proposes to evaluate in future research efforts. As one of UMMMC's Physician Quality Officers, Dr. Luckmann is working on developing and studying primary care patient outreach programs aimed at improving adherence to cancer screening and management of chronic disease and on improving outcomes for patients with sepsis spectrum disorders in the hospital. Supported by a contract from the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute he has been collaborating with a group of professional mediators on designing and implementing a process for developing clinical practice guidelines on prostate and lung cancer screening in Massachusetts. Most recently, he has turned his attention to the application of mindfulness and related meditation practices aimed at helping patients cope with chronic pain using alternative therapies.
Monika Mitra, PhD, Assistant Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a faculty researcher at the Center for Health Policy and Research. She conducts research focused on health disparities among people with disabilities and the epidemiology of secondary conditions among persons with disabilities. Dr. Mitra is the principal investigator on an NICHD grant examining the health needs and barriers to perinatal care among women with mobility disabilities. Most recently, she has published on the health issues of women with disabilities during pregnancy and on physical and sexual abuse against men and women with disabilities.
Glenn Pransky, MD, MOccH, Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health and Director of the Center for Disability Research at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety in Hopkinton, MA, has research interests and expertise focused on understanding the effects of health status and medical treatment on ability to work, identifying effective interventions to support employment in persons with various conditions, and workplace interventions to improve health and work ability, with a focus on the aging workforce. Several of his investigations have evaluated the effectiveness of various treatment approaches for work-related conditions in community settings, through administrative data and clinical trials. He also directs investigations of causes and prevention of work-related conditions in special populations of workers, and is currently working on a study on effectiveness of return to work coordination. Dr. Pransky currently is Chair of the Scientific Section on Work Disability Prevention and Reintegration of the International Commission on Occupational Health, a venue for international exchange of research knowledge in this area.
Barry Saver, MD, MPH, Professor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a family physician and health services researcher with a wide range of research interests, focusing on vulnerable populations and organization and financing of health care services. He has conducted research in a variety of areas including access to care and health insurance, racial and ethnic disparities in health care, effects of financial incentives on health care costs, quality, and utilization, use of preventive services, tobacco cessation, childhood asthma, and prescription drug benefits, costs, and utilization. Currently, he is particularly interested in developing and testing interventions that empower patients to take a more active role in managing their health conditions. This includes ongoing projects to improve managment of hypertension using low-cost health information technology and medication management protocols and using patient stories and community health worker outreach and to develop new interventions to help patients make evidence-informed decisions about controversial cancer screening tests. Other current interests include EHR provider usability and improving medication reconciliation and medication adherence.
William Shaw, PhD, Instructor of Family Medicine and Community Health, is a psychologist with research interests in workplace injuries, musculoskeletal rehabilitation, and disability. Dr. Shaw's primary appointment is with the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety, Hopkinton, MA, where he is a Principal Scientist in the Center for Disability Research. At the Institute, his research examines risk factors for work disability after injury as well as worksite and clinical interventions for musculoskeletal disorders. Current studies are focused on the experiences of patients with occupational low back pain, workplace factors that can complicate recovery and return-to-work, patient-physician communication of workplace and lifestyle pain concerns, early patient screening and intervention for acute low back pain, and supervisor training programs to improve employer response to workplace injuries. Dr. Shaw's research includes collaboration with a number of employers and occupational health clinics throughout New England to develop improved methods for injury treatment and rehabilitation.