Cancer Prevention and Control
Area of interest
As a health economist, my research is focused on examining behavior in health care markets. An economic perspective and approach can improve policies and increase welfare across the continuum of policy development. Studies highlighting the economic burden of disease and risk factors for disease clarify where resources are being spent and identify areas that need attention to improve resource allocation. Economic evaluation, including cost and cost-effectiveness analysis, demonstrates whether interventions provide improved health to the public at a reasonable cost. Finally, by focusing on peoples’ and organizations’ response to incentives, economics provides a methodology to examine intended and unintended consequences of policy.
In my work, I apply these economic approaches to improve prevention and care for chronic diseases, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, and risk factors for chronic disease like smoking and obesity. My research has addressed important policy questions in these areas and has been disseminated through peer-reviewed journal articles, web-based tools, and trainings to public health researchers and practitioners throughout the country.
My current research focuses on answering policy-relevant questions in three areas:
1. Assessing the economic burden of cancer: Understanding where health care resources are spent is a critical input for improved resource allocation. My research identifies diseases and payers that drive health care expenditures and motivates policies to contain costs.
2. Evaluating the cost and cost-effectiveness of policies and interventions: Efficient allocation of resources requires that the incremental health benefit from a policy or intervention is equal to the incremental cost of the program. My research evaluates whether policies and interventions provide good value to society.
3. Development of methods to identify causal effects of policies and interventions and simulate new policies: In observational data, it is often hard to attribute changes in health and health behaviors to specific policies. It is even harder to anticipate the effects of policies before they are implemented. My research uses novel statistical and simulation models to estimate the effects of polices.
My record demonstrates substantial contributions in research. I have been a Principal Investigator on 10 funded research contracts and grants totaling nearly $9 million in total costs and a co-Investigator on another 6 funded research contracts and grants totaling nearly $2 million in total costs. My publications include 45 peer-reviewed articles, 29 of which I was first or second author. I have also authored 15 working papers and 4 technical reports. My research has been well-received by the field; my “h-index” (the largest number h such that h publications have at least h citations) is 15 using ISI (23 using Google Scholar). One of my publications was cited by Chief Justice Roberts in National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the
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Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act. Another publication was the fifth most cited paper in the Journal of Health Economics between 2008 and 2013. My work has been presented at 12 peer-reviewed, academic conferences, and I have been invited to present at special meetings convened at the National Academies, Centers for Disease Control, and National Forum for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention.
My future research agenda will build upon my prior work in estimating economic burden, economic evaluation, and methods to analyze the effects of policy. In the next 12 months, I will be working on estimating the economic burden of breast cancer for younger women (under age 45), including direct medical costs by cancer stage at diagnosis, productivity costs, and health-related quality of life. In future years, I expect to pursue external funding to examine patient preferences and outcomes for prostate cancer treatment, explore peer effects for other preventive behaviors such as HPV vaccinations, and offer economic evaluation to strengthen proposals seeking to improve cancer prevention and treatment.