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Bioethics Grand Rounds

Wed, March 22, 2017, 12:00pm
UH Ford Amphitheater & Lobby

Autumn Fiester, PhD, Division of Medical Ethics, Department of Medical Ethics & Health Policy, Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

Title –  The “Difficult” Patient Reconceived: Learning the Skills of Mediators in Managing Challenging Clinical Encounters.

Abstract: Between 15%-60% of patients are considered “difficult” by their treating physicians.  Patient psychiatric pathology is the conventional explanation for why patients are deemed “difficult.” But the prevalence of the problem suggests the possibility of a less pathological cause.  I argue that the phenomenon can be better explained as responses sourced in conflicts related to healthcare delivery and that the solution to the “difficult patient” is to teach better conflict management skills to clinical providers.


1. Apply the mediator's concepts of "positions" and "interests" to patient-provider conflicts
2. Identity the moral emotions and explain their significance in managing the "difficult" patient
3. Learn seven maxims for diffusing conflict in clinical encounters

Available via live stream at:

Mon, April 17, 2017

A new piece by Brian Zikmund-Fisher and former CBSSM post-doc, Laura Scherer is out in the Conversation, "Maximizers vs. minimizers: The personality trait that may guide your medical decisions – and costs." They developed and validated a 10-item questionnaire that assesses a person’s maximizing or minimizing tendencies on a scale, from one (strong minimizing) to seven (strong maximizing). Across four studies, they found this difference predicts health care use across a range of medical interventions and health problems, from cancer screening preferences to vaccination. They hope that identifying variations in maximizing or minimizing tendencies may be useful in trying to address both overuse and underuse in health care.

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Mon, April 17, 2017

Brian Zikmund-Fisher is quoted in a recent MarketWatch article, "How doctors are getting patients more involved in their own care." Dr. Zikmund-Fisher points out, "Patients are often overwhelmed by massive amounts of data they now have access to. The easier we make it for them to understand, the more likely it is they will use it and the less time the doctor has to spend explaining it.” The article goes on to cite a web-based application developed by Dr. Zikmund-Fisher and colleagues that allows health-care providers and researchers to create graphics that use icons in arrays that show risk information in ways that make it easier for people to grasp information.

A study by former CBSSM Co-Director, Angela Fagerlin, is also cited in the article.

"Concussion" Film Screening & Moderated Discussion

Thu, March 30, 2017, 7:00pm
Forum Hall, Palmer Commons

"Concussion" Film Screening & Moderated Discussion

Free Admission

Moderator:    Raymond De Vries, PhD


  • Ellen Arruda, PhD, Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  • Karen Kelly-Blake, PhD, Assistant Professor, Center for Ethics and Humanities in the Life Sciences, MSU
  • Matthew Lorincz, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, Neurology, Co-Director, Michigan NeuroSport

Refreshments provided.

Join us for a free screening of the award-winning film, Concussion. Watch the true story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, renowned forensic pathologist who discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), acclaimed as, "a gripping medical mystery and a dazzling portrait of the young scientist no one wanted to listen to." 

The film will be followed by a panel discussion related to key bioethical and scientific issues brought up by the film, as well as current research into brain injury and brain injury prevention.

Reach Out and RELATE: Communicating and Understanding Scientific Research

About this course
Everyone - non-scientists and scientists alike - has some form of expertise, but communicating across a gap in knowledge or experience is challenging. In this Teach-Out, we address this challenge by helping participants to develop core communication skills and more effectively communicate with one another. For more information or to enroll, click here.

What you'll learn

  •     Understand why science communication is both important and challenging
  •     Develop strategies to effectively bridge communications between public audiences and scientific researchers
  •     Understand expert perspectives on different areas of public engagement with science
  •     Shape a compelling, message-focused STEM narrative for a specific audience
  •     Discuss important issues in science communication with others

Meet the instructors

Elyse L. Aurbach PhD
Co-Founder and Co-Director of RELATE

Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher PhD
Associate Professor of Health Behavior and Health Education

Brandon Patterson MS
Co-Director of RELATE

Katherine E. Prater PhD
Co-Founder and Co-Director of RELATE

Click here for more information.

CBSSM Seminar: Julie Wright Nunes, MD, MPH

Wed, May 17, 2017, 3:00pm
NCRC, Building 16, Room 266C

Julie Wright Nunes, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Internal Medicine

Title: Patient Education and Care: Challenges and Opportunities in Chronic Kidney Disease

Abstract: Twenty million people, or 20% of U.S. adults ages 60 and older, have chronic kidney disease (CKD). CKD is a significant public health threat carrying high risk of morbidity, mortality, and renal failure. Health behavior theory suggests that patient motivation and healthy behavior change require patients to have knowledge of their chronic condition, as well as the self-efficacy and skills to do what is needed to stay healthy. The chronic care model promotes early patient engagement in care. Yet, less than 20% of  patients with CKD are aware of their diagnosis. Even patients who are aware often do not understand the implications of their CKD diagnosis or what they need to do to optimize their health. Dr. Wright Nunes will discuss her research aimed to develop, test, and disseminate sustainable patient-centric education and coaching support interventions to improve quality of care and outcomes in patients who have CKD.

Fri, July 14, 2017

A study by current and former CBSSM faculty and staff was recently highlighted in Horsetalk (NZ). Angela Fagerlin, Thomas Valley, Aaron Scherer, Megan Knaus, Enny Das, and Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher were co-authors on an international study looking at the impact of flu labels (including "Horse Flu" and "Yarramin Flu") and graphics on risk perceptions and behavioral intentions.


Jodyn Platt, MPH, PhD, Assistant Professor of Learning Health Sciences, has been named a University of Chicago MacLean Fellow.

As part of the one year Cancer Genomics and Ethics Big Data Science Fellowship she will receive clinical training in the Medical Ethics Summer Intensive Program and conduct a research project with Olufunmilayo Olopade, MD, FACP, Director of the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics at University of Chicago Medicine.

Platt explains how her work as a fellow will begin: "I would like to systematically observe and interview individuals involved in shaping how data evolves and moves from the patient encounter to the big data enterprise and back to clinical care." Looking forward to expanding her network over the course of the year, she plans "to engage in, and lead, interdisciplinary scholarship that will ensure the revolution in healthcare delivery brought on by big data and cancer genomics is an ethical one." 

Platt is also the organizer of the upcoming ELSI-LHS symposium on November 15th at U-M which explores the “Ethical, Legal and Social Implications of Learning Health Systems”.

Jeffrey DeWitt, PhD


Jeff DeWitt completed a PhD in Social Psychology in 2017 while working in Dr. Gretchen Chapman's Medical Decision Making Lab at Rutgers University. Broadly, Jeff's research is focused on the interplay between social cognition and behavioral decision making with an emphasis on healthcare applications. In particular, he has investigated how our representations and predictions of others' beliefs and goals can influence our own in altruistic medical contexts such as whether to donate blood or receive a flu shot. 

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Jennifer Skillicorn, DrPH, MPH

Research Associate

Jennifer joined CBSSM in August 2017. She works with Dr. Susan Goold and community partners on grant funded research projects related to evaluating Medicaid expansion and its impact on beneficiaries through the Healthy Michigan Plan and ways in which to engage minority and underserved communities in setting priorities for community health.

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