Meet the Researchers
Read more about some of the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine faculty members who are leading the way on research focused on improving how health care is delivered in Vermont and across the country.
Eline van den Broek-Altenburg, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
The center’s first new member, Eline van den Broek-Altenburg, Ph.D., completed her doctorate in health services research with a focus on economics and biostatistics at the University of Colorado, with Atherly as her thesis advisor. Her experience extends beyond academia: She was a journalist in the Netherlands before going on to work for several European think tanks. She also served as a policy advisor on healthcare reform for members of the Dutch and European Union parliaments. The decision to pursue her Ph.D. gave her the opportunity to supply data-driven answers to the questions she grappled with while writing op-eds and policy recommendations. She’s particularly interested in using choice modeling – a technique borrowed from the field of economics - to understand why patients make certain decisions when seeking healthcare, an important question to be asking as Vermont continues to move towards value-based care. In addition to working with an array of researchers across disciplines at UVM, she's part of a research team that received a large European grant to develop and empirically test a new model of moral decision-making. The questions they’re asking: How do human decision-makers translate moral principles towards concrete moral actions? And how can we then identify how social interactions processes lead to specific decisions in healthcare? Out of a 20-member team that includes economists, mathematicians, even philosophers, she’s the only one focused on applying the model to healthcare to predict future patient decision-making regarding treatment options and health behaviors.
Benjamin Littenberg, M.D.
Henry and Carleen Tufo Professor of Medicine
UVM Henry and Carleen Tufo Professor of Medicine Benjamin Littenberg, M.D., has been working in the field for over two decades, publishing important work on the management of chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, and obesity. A major, ongoing research project led by Littenberg and colleagues puts UVM at the forefront of innovation in the delivery of mental healthcare. In 2015, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute awarded $18.5 million to Littenberg and colleagues Constance van Eeghen, DrPH, and Rodger Kessler, Ph.D., to study whether patients with both medical and behavioral problems do better when their primary care physicians work in combination with behavioral health professionals. The team has 45 practices across the country enrolled in the study. At the end of the project, the goal is to evaluate how integration of services impacts behavioral health outcomes for patients also struggling with chronic medical issues. They’re about one-quarter of the way through the study, says Littenberg, so in the years ahead the team will be evaluating troves of data collected from patients and practices.
Charles MacLean, M.D.
Associate Dean for Primary Care
Areas of expertise for UVM Associate Dean for Primary Care Charles MacLean, M.D., include social determinants of health, outcomes research, and pharmacoepidemiology. Not only does he publish in these areas, he mentors medical students and residents as they lead projects that advance knowledge in these fields. A study published in June of 2018 in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, with MacLean as a co-author and Larner College of Medicine alum Mayo Fujii, M.D.'13 as first author, focused on identifying "opioid prescribing and use patterns after surgery to inform evidence-based practices." The study found that median opioid use after surgery was 27 percent of the total prescribed, and only 18 percent of patients reported receiving disposal instructions. As opioid misuse and addiction continues to be a public health concern, the authors suggest using data from studies like theirs to standardize post-op prescribing practices. A follow-up study is underway to see how the prescribing has changed since new rules governing prescribing practices for acute pain went into effect in Vermont in July of 2017.
- Read the study published in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons