Jessie Gruman, Ph.D.

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July 1, 2009

Jessie Gruman, Ph.D., is the founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health (CFAH), an independent, nonprofit organization aimed at increasing patient engagement, in the belief that people will not benefit from the health care available to them unless they participate fully and competently in it. Dr. Gruman draws on her own experience of treatment for three cancer diagnoses, surveys, peer-reviewed research and interviews with patients and caregivers as the basis of her work to describe—and advocate policies and practices to overcome—the challenges people face in finding and using safe, decent health care.

Dr. Gruman holds a Ph.D. in social psychology from Columbia University. She is the co-editor of the forthcoming Journal of Participatory Medicine and a professorial lecturer in the School of Public Health and Health Services at The George Washington University. She serves on the board of the Center for Medical Technology Policy, the Advisory Panel on Medicare Education of DHHS, and the Technical Board of the Milbank Memorial Fund. Dr. Gruman previously worked at the National Cancer Institute, the American Cancer Society, and AT&T. She is the author of three books: The Experience of the American Patient: Risk, Trust and Choice; Behavior Matters; and AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You—or Someone You Love—a Devastating Diagnosis, as well as scientific papers and opinion essays and articles.

Dr. Gruman is the principal investigator of the HCFO grant, “Getting Tools Used: Lessons Learned from Successful Decision Support Tools Unrelated to Health Care,” funded under a special topic solicitation on consumer activation. She and her colleagues were troubled by the public's frequent use of decision aids to help choose refrigerators and cell phone services but its disinterest in using such tools to help them choose health plans, hospitals and physicians. They developed case studies of four successful decision support tools unrelated to health care: U.S. News & World Report: America’s Best Colleges, Nutrition Facts Panels, eBay.com, and Consumer Reports: Car Buying Guide. Five experts in health-related decision aids analyzed these case studies and identified variables key to the success of each tool, and the implications for the development and dissemination of health care decisions aids.

Successful decision support tools are user-friendly; their content addresses the audience’s concerns; and they are sponsored by objective, trustworthy sources that reliably produce and promote updated tools over time. Gruman notes, “Fostering the public's interest in good decision support tools is not a trivial concern. Health care has never been more complicated. We are more responsible for making decisions about our care than ever before, and the stakes of our decisions have never been so high. There is simply no way we can make well-informed decisions without relying on objective information arrayed so that we can weigh the trade-offs of our options. Increasingly, finding good care depends on our ability to locate trustworthy tools when we need them—and then to use them to help us make the choices that meet our needs and preferences. The 'Getting Tools Used' initiative contributes to this imperative."
More information about the research methods and findings can be found in the July 2009 Findings Brief, “Getting Tools Used: Lessons Learned from Successful Decision Support Tools Unrelated to Health Care.” The full “Getting Tools Used” report is available at www.cfah.org/activities/tools.cfm.

For more information about Dr. Gruman, please visit www.cfah.org/about/jgruman_bio.cfm .