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 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.
Timothy R. B. Johnson, M.D.
Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Chair, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Bates Professor of the Diseases of Women and Children
Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Women’s Studies
Research Professor, CHGD
Title: Global Health Ethics and Reproductive Justice: Breadth and Depth in CBSSM
Global Health Ethics and Reproductive Justice (in this instance sexual rights and gender equity, specifically gender and sexual harassment/assault in Academic Medical Centers) appear to be areas where a number of CBSSM members have interest, expertise and are working inter-disciplinarily in domains that will differentiate CBSSM nationally and internationally. Could and should these develop into CBSSM thematic interests? Whatever the case, they will remain topics of significant interest across CBSSM and are worthy of broad discussion and understanding.
CBSSM was well-represented at the annual American Society for Bioethics & Humanities (ASBH) in Kansas City, MO (Oct 19-22) and the Society for Medical Decision Making (SMDM) in Pittsburgh, PA (Oct 22-25).
At ASBH, Andrew Shuman, Susan Goold, Kayte Spector-Bagdady, Janice Firn, Kerry Ryan, Michele Gornick, Stephanie Kukora, Naomi Laventhal, and Christian Vercler presented.
At SMDM, Michele Gornick, Sarah Hawley, and Dean Shumway presented. Several CBSSM alumni also presented.
Joseph joined CBSSM as a Research Area Specialist in November 2017. As a project manager, he coordinates the daily operations of Dr. Jeffrey Kullgren’s project “Provider, Patient, and Health System Effects of Provider Commitments to Choose Wisely,” a grant funded research project using novel approaches to reduce the overuse of low-value services in healthcare.
The Woll Family Speaker Series on Health, Spirituality and Religion
We are excited to be hosting a debate on Conscience Protection on Friday March 9th from 12-1 as part of the UMMS Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion. Please save the date! CME Credit provided (see below).
Point: Healthcare professionals are "obligated to provide, perform, and refer patients for interventions according to the standards of the profession.” NEJM, 2017
Counterpoint: Healthcare professionals have the right to opt out of performing or referring for procedures they view as objectionable in accord with their religious or personal values.
Join Dr. Naomi Laventhal and Dr. Ashley Fernandes in this academic discussion as part of the University of Michigan Program on Health, Spirituality and Religion.
Professionalism, Ethical Obligations, and the Moral Imperative of Self-Care
Healthcare providers are inevitably called to participate in and bear witness to emotionally challenging cases. Combined with time constraints, competing responsibilities, the urgent nature of these cases, healthcare providers risk burnout. The consequences of burnout have been shown to be increased staff turnover, substandard patient outcomes and increased likelihood for errors. As part of competent clinical practice, healthcare providers must not only attend to the needs of the patient and family but also themselves. However, a tension exists between making enough time for patients and taking enough time for oneself. But, engaging in self-care activities can help address clinician distress; this practice is essential for remaining compassionate, providing competent patient care services, and avoiding harm. Healthcare providers, therefore, have an ethical duty to engage in personal self-care. This presentation makes a case for why self-care is a key component of competent clinical practice. Several ways in which a lack of self-care can undermine professional competence, thus risking burnout and poor patient outcomes, are discussed. Strategies for recognizing and addressing burnout are also reviewed.
What's the difference between opting in and opting out of an activity? Who decides if people will be put automatically into one category or another? Click this interactive decision to learn how default options work.
Imagine that you're a US Senator and that you serve on the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. The Infectious Diseases Society of America has come before your committee because they believe that too many health care workers are getting sick with influenza ("flu") each year and infecting others. As a result, your Senate committee is now considering a new bill that would require that all health care workers get annual influenza vaccinations ("flu shots") unless the worker specifically refuses this vaccination in writing.
Do you think you would support this bill for mandatory flu shots for health care workers?
Imagine that you're the human resources director at a mid-sized company that's initiating an employee retirement plan. Management is concerned that many employees are not saving enough for retirement. They're considering a policy that would automatically deduct retirement contributions from all employees' wages unless the employee fills out and submits a form requesting exemption from the automatic deductions.
Do you think a policy of automatic retirement deductions is reasonable for your company to follow?
Organ transplants save many lives each year, but there are always too many deserving patients and too few organs available. To try to improve the number of organs available for donation, the state legislature in your state is considering a new policy that all people who die under certain well-defined circumstances will have their organs donated to others. The system would start in three years, after an information campaign. People who do not want to have their organs donated would be given the opportunity to sign a refusal of organ donation when they renewed their drivers' licenses or state ID cards, which expire every three years. Citizens without either of these cards could also sign the refusal at any drivers' license office in the state. This is a policy similar to ones already in place in some European countries.
Does this seem like an appropriate policy to you?
How do your answers compare?
For many decisions in life, people encounter default options-that is, events or conditions that will be set in place if they don't actively choose an alternative. Some default options have clear benefits and are relatively straightforward to implement, such as having drug prescriptions default to "generic" unless the physician checks the "brand necessary" box. Others are more controversial, such as the automatic organ donation issue that you made a decision about.
Default options can strongly influence human behavior. For example, employees are much more likely to participate in a retirement plan if they're automatically enrolled (and must ask to be removed, or opt out) than if they must actively opt in to the plan. Researchers have found a number of reasons for this influence of default options, including people's aversion to change.
But default options can seem coercive also. So, an Institute of Medicine committee recently recommended against making organ donation automatic in the US. One reason was the committee's concern that Americans might not fully understand that they could opt out of donation or exactly how they could do so.
The policy scenarios presented to you here have been excerpted from a 2007 article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled "Harnessing the Power of Default Options to Improve Health Care," by Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD, Peter A. Ubel, MD, and David A. Asch, MD, MBA. Dr. Ubel is the Director of the Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine.
This article provides guidance for policy-makers in setting default options, specifically in health care. Generally, default options in health care are intended to promote the use of interventions that improve care, reduce the use of interventions that put patients at risk, or serve broader societal agendas, such as cost containment.
In this NEJM article, the researchers argue that default options are often unavoidable-otherwise, how would an emergency-room physician decide on care for an uninsured patient? Many default options already exist but are hidden. Without either returning to an era of paternalism in medicine or adopting a laissez-faire approach, the authors present ways to use default options wisely but actively, based on clear findings in the medical literature.
Some examples of default policies that may improve health care quality:
- routine HIV testing of all patients unless they opt out.
- removal of urinary catheters in hospital patients after 72 hours unless a nurse or doctor documents why the catheter should be retained.
- routine ventilation of all newly intubated patients with lung-protective settings unless or until other settings are ordered.
Drs. Halpern, Ubel, and Asch conclude, "Enacting policy changes by manipulating default options carries no more risk than ignoring such options that were previously set passively, and it offers far greater opportunities for benefit."
Read the article:
Harnessing the power of default options to improve health care.
Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Asch DA. New England Journal of Medicine 2007;357:1340-1344.
Brian Zikmund-Fisher, Angela Fagerlin, Nicole Exe, and Knoll Larkin have been involved in the Visualizing Health Project, which has recently launched an online style guide for communicating health data. You can check it out at: www.vizhealth.org
The Visualizing Health project was a short and highly intense project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation designed to push the envelope both in considering visual designs for communicating health risk data and in developing iterative research approaches for testing them. The project involved a large team combining researchers and staff from both the University of Michigan's Center for Health Communications Research and the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine. The UM team then worked closely on a week by week basis with Thomas Goetz (former editor of Wired magazine) who envisioned the project, Tim Leong (graphic designer, author of Super Graphic), Andrea Ducas from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and teams of graphic designers that Tim recruited.
They created 16 distinct visual data display tasks related to health risks, had teams of graphic designers develop display concepts, and iteratively tested these displays using multiple online survey methodologies. The resulting designs and data were then assembled in a project website that included all the images, plus commentary and additional features such as a design "wizard" to help guide users to visual displays that best fit their personal needs.
Also, see the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of health blog.
Paul A. Lombardo, PhD, JD
Regents' Professor and Bobby Lee Cook Professor of Law
Georgia State University College of Law
"From Psycographs to FMRI: Historical Context for the Claims of Neuroscience"
Abstract: In the U.S., announcement of the Presidential “Brain Initiative” has focused attention on “revolutionizing our understanding of the human brain” And neuroscience has begun to replace genetics as the field most likely to fill press headlines. The promise of more research funding for the field has led to extraordinary claims that research will soon lead to mind reading, lie detection, and unlocking the brain-based foundations of virtue and character. But these claims echo similar assertions from a century ago, many of which were eventually discarded as quackery, eugenics or misguided pseudoscience. Then the power of phrenology was touted, and machines like the “Psycograph” were offered to “thoroughly and accurately” measure “the powers of intellect, affect and will.” Today similarly expansive claims are being made for color-coded functional magnetic resonance imagery. Are we facing true scientific triumph or mere recycled hyperbole? This presentation will explore the historical echoes of today’s most extravagant claims in the field of neuroscience, and analyze how our actual understanding of mental functioning compares to the hopeful assertions that are filling both the lay press and scientific journals.