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Dana AldenFrom the Editor

by Dana L. Alden, PhD, Editor-in-chief, University of Hawai'i

Happy New Year and welcome to the first edition of your 2016 SMDM Newsletter! 2016 is the Year of the Monkey (猴子的一年) in the Chinese Zodiac. People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be smart, quick witted, frank, optimistic, ambitious, and adventurous. 

Ensuring your Newsletter continues to provide information consistent with characteristics of those born in 猴子的一年 is very important to us. To that end, we begin 2016 with an invitation to all SMDM members to consider submitting: 1) a Commentary article; 2) news about yourself such as what you’re “working on,” what you’ve published or presented, career positions that are open in your institution or elsewhere; and/or 3) any other news you think SMDM members would find interesting. We are very writer-friendly and are happy to assist in any way we can to help develop articles that contribute to the Society. 

Commentary articles are typically 350 words in length and focus on medical decision making or related topics that our general membership will find helpful to their growth as researchers, educators, clinicians and/or policymakers. Other pieces such as Member Updates or Job Postings are usually shorter, e.g., one paragraph with 3-5 sentences. If you have an idea about a Commentary article or any other contribution, please send me an email ( and I’ll get right back to you.  

And now … here’s a preview of your 2016 SMDM Winter Edition Newsletter. In his letter to members, SMDM President Mark Helfand offers insightful commentary on ways that SMDM can work more effectively with policymakers and discusses some of his plans for our Society during his 2016 term. Next, in the Commentary section, Alan Schwartz introduces SMDM’s new journal, Medical Decision Making Policy & Practice. Like most start-ups, the first year for a new journal is critical to long-term success. Thus, Alan’s call for submission of quality papers that address real world health care problems is particularly noteworthy. Following Alan’s article, Dennis Fryback reports on two members, who were recently elected the National Academy of Medicine. Congratulations David Meltzer and Valerie Reyna!

Holly Witteman offers the third Commentary piece. Even the technologically-challenged among us (myself included ☺) will find her overview regarding use of social media to improve your research productivity easy to understand and implement. Happy Tweeting! The fourth Commentary, written by Karen Sepucha and Richard Thomson, provides a very informative update on a topic that is important to researchers, practitioners, and policymakers – reporting on Patient Decision Aid evaluation studies in ways that advance evidence-based understanding of optimal design and implementation.  

Member updates and announcements follow, including: a recap of the 2015 SMDM Annual Meeting by Scott LaJoie and James Stahl; links to public radio stories regarding recent research conducted by SMDM members’ Melissa Gilkey; James Stahl; and Jag Chhatwal, Mark Roberts, & Turgay Ayer; and Randall Grout’s receipt of the first certificate for successful completion of the complete SMDM Core Short Course Curriculum. Congratulations also go to Angie Faegerlin on her new position and Alan Schwartz on his new book! 

All this and plenty more await you in the first 2016 SMDM Newsletter. And, if you have an idea for a Commentary piece or any other contribution to the Newsletter, please feel free to contact me via or call me at (808) 754-6370. My best wishes to you and your loved ones for a Happy New Year or as we say in Hawai’i, Hau ‘oli Makahiki Hou! 

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From the President

by Mark Helfand, MD, MPH, Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University

SMDM and Policymakers

Because new presidents take office in the Fall, they have their first say in the SMDM Newsletter in the Winter issue. It is no surprise that these debut columns feature some recurring themes. The most frequently mentioned are the need to make our work more timely and relevant to decision-makers, or known to a broader audience, and ideas for accomplishing that.  

Since taking office, I am often asked: “Are we going to do that? When? How?”

I’m not sure about when or how (I have some ideas, which I will talk about in my next column.)  But I am nearly sure that one of the most difficult barriers is falling. It is the one that goes “policymakers and other consumers of our research ‘just didn’t get it.’ ” Whether “it” is the need to take preferences and values into account, or the idea of shared decision-making, or the role of modeling in decision-making, many more policy-makers get it and recognize they need it than ever before.  

In fact, with respect to preferences, values, risk communication, and shared decision-making, policy is ahead of practice. These ideas are being incorporated into policy rapidly. Rather than explanation and persuasion, policymakers want help with implementation in practice, including help selecting decision aids that are effective and valid.

With respect to modeling, one of the reasons policy-makers are starting to “get it” is that the “evidence-based” approach takes them only so far. Many policymakers have come to understand that considering certain inputs rigorously and informally adding on consideration of preferences, values, longer-term consequences, and other factors often doesn’t work very well. Other policymakers have found that, particularly when evidence is weak, a lack of comfort with modeling, its role in decision-making, and its relationship to evidence-based decision making has led to confusion and in some cases poorly defended recommendations. And, significantly, some organizations that have relied heavily on systematic reviews have found that something is missing when they need to think of how best to allocate resources, particularly when it comes to very costly interventions that are priced on the basis of promised future societal benefits that may or may not actually transpire.  

The actions of policymaking organizations reflect this change. GRADE’s DECIDE Collaboration, which was funded by the European Union, developed an “Evidence-to-Decision tool” to address policymakers’ need for an approach to decision-making to complement evidence synthesis. (A byproduct is a first attempt to address the problem that policymakers don’t “get it”. It is called the GET IT – Glossary!) Similarly, the World Health Organization is now starting a process to facilitate the use of models into their guideline process. The American Society of Clinical Oncology’s “values framework” (featured in the Fall, 2015 newsletter) is another example.


Operational Review

The last newsletter featured the new SMDM Strategic Plan. I believe that, in the past, we may have been too quick to go from strategic planning to implementation of the plan. This time, we are taking time for an intermediate step—a review of SMDM’s operations. We are looking for ways to improve efficiency, deliver on the strategic planning goals, and ensure that new initiatives generate revenue. Among other things this review will address SMDM’s committee structure; its relationship with contractors that provide services to SMDM; and the roles and responsibilities of the Executive Director. Drop me a line if you have ideas about this effort.

Donate or Pledge

By the way…it is also pledge month. Over the past few weeks many people have already made generous donations to SMDM.  Please join them! (One aspect of operations that I would change for sure is that you have to log in to use the web site’s Donate button.) If you don’t want to use the button, there is a paper donation form here, or you can email Trevor Scholl   ( to make a pledge.

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The opinions stated in the following commentaries are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the Society for Medical Decision Making.

New SMDM Journal

by Alan J. Schwartz, PhD, Editor in Chief, Medical Decision Making and Medical Decision Making Policy & Practice

The Society for Medical Decision Making has begun a second journal, entitled Medical Decision Making Policy & Practice (MDM P&P). MDM P&P focuses on the application of current theories, methods, and approaches from a variety of disciplines to important problems facing clinical and health policy decision-makers, including patients, providers, producers, and payers.

MDM P&P will publish original research articles, reviews, case studies, letters to the editor, and editorials. We are most interested in manuscripts that are exemplary applications of widely-accepted methods to important problems.

Compared with MDM, MDM P&P focuses more squarely on research that addresses current problems in health care. If you want to report the impact of a patient decision aid for lung cancer screening, the cost-effectiveness of a new heart valve, or health-state valuations for a new population, MDM P&P may be a better fit. If you want to compare methods for conducting value-clarification exercises, better modeling of survival curves, or the impact of new utility theories on health-state valuation, consider MDM instead. Authors who are unsure to which SMDM journal they should submit their work may opt in for consideration by both journals during manuscript submission.

MDM and MDM P&P share a common editorial board, editorial office, and manuscript submission software (with different URLs for each journal). We expect MDM P&P to be indexed in Google Scholar shortly after it begins publishing. Indexing in Medline requires 12 months and publication of 40 articles; once accepted for indexing, all articles are retroactively indexed.

MDM P&P publishes online using an open-access model. Authors of manuscripts accepted for publication pay an article processing charge. All published articles are freely available to all readers. Open access enables articles to receive broader and more diverse visibility and citation than is typical with subscription-based publishing. Charges are discounted for members of SMDM, and during the first two years of publication, both the member and non-member article processing charges will be further discounted.

I hope you will support this new initiative by submitting your best applied work to our new journal. For more information for authors, please visit

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The opinions stated in the following commentaries are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the Society for Medical Decision Making.


Meltzer and Reyna Elected to NAM 

by Dennis G. Fryback, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Two prominent SMDM members were elected this year to the prestigious National Academy of Medicine (NAM). On October 18, when SMDM gathered in St. Louis for our North American meeting, the National Academy of Medicine met in Washington, DC, and announced 80 newly elected members for 2015. The list included David Meltzer and Valerie Reyna (pictured left), who were attending SMDM when the news broke.

On July 1, 2015, the National Academies formed the National Academy of Medicine to join the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. The NAM assumed the membership, honorific, and other functions formerly administered by the Institute of Medicine.  Membership in NAM, as in IOM before, is only through nomination and election by NAM members. The NAM is often called upon to provide independent, objective analysis and advice to the nation and to conduct other activities to solve complex problems and inform public policy decisions. With their election, members make a commitment to volunteer their service in the Academies’ activities. 

NAM President, Dr. Victor J. Dzau, noted “Our newly elected members represent the brightest, most influential, and passionate people in health, science, and medicine in our nation and internationally. They are at the top of their fields and are committed to service. The expertise they bring to the organization will help us respond to today’s most pressing health-related challenges and inform the future of health, science, and medicine.”

David Meltzer was cited among other things for his fundamental work in cost-effectiveness analysis and pioneering research on the hospitalist experience. Valerie Reyna was noted as an international leader in psychology doing pioneering work in understanding and improving decision-making processes related to health outcomes, applying psychology, medicine, and engineering among other disciplines.  

David and Val join at least 19 other current or former SMDM members who also have been elected to the IOM/NAM. Eight of the first 10 SMDM presidents are currently NAM members, and one, Harvey Fineberg, one of the founders of SMDM, recently stepped down after 12 years as IOM president. 

Congratulations David and Val!
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The opinions stated in the following commentaries are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the Society for Medical Decision Making.


Science and Academia in the Age of Social Media

by Holly Witteman, PhD, Chair, Social Media Team

Holly WittemanMany conferences, including SMDM meetings, now establish hashtags to help organize social media discussions. Since first registering the hashtag #SMDM13, SMDM has been growing our social media presence with the goal of better engaging people outside our Society who are active on social media. At our last North American meeting, we established a strategy with Twitter as our primary platform of interest. We increased the number of people tweeting, our tweets, and impressions, a measure of how many people on Twitter may have seen each tweet.

The social media team (myself as chair and Davene Wright, Sarah Munro, Jake Morgan, and Vanessa Merker as social media reporters) had many people  informally ask for help setting up or using their social media account. As we prepare for upcoming SMDM meetings, I offer some thoughts for those considering engaging more on Twitter.

I am active on Twitter because it’s enjoyable for me. I engage in conversations, learn new things, and make connections that I value for their own sake, but sometimes they also come in handy. For example, I am thus far the only PI outside the United States to hold funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and I first connected with two of the US-based patient partners for that project on social media. I don’t think I could have been successful in that funding application without them. 


Reasons to participate on Twitter:

  • It is an excellent avenue for public engagement and science communication.
  • It is an efficient way to get research news. I learn of research that I might not otherwise have seen, and I find out about changes to national funding rules on Twitter at least a week before I get an email from my research office.
  • It offers a broader network with other researchers and can level the playing field, especially for those who are earlier in their career. Although hierarchies still exist on social media, they are less entrenched.
  • It also offers a broader network outside of academia. When I need feedback from a patient perspective on a topic, I have a network of experts who will respond quickly. (I try to return the favour when they ask for research help.)
  • Many grant applications now are character-limited rather than word- or page-limited. Regularly engaging with the 140-character limit of a tweet has come in handy for me when I needed to cut characters in a proposal. Other scientists on Twitter report similar benefits.
  • When I tweet at conferences, I am more engaged in the presentations.

Reasons not to participate:

  • It is not enjoyable for you. Social media is not for everyone. This is something that can enhance your professional life, but it is not necessary. We all have enough obligations. If I weren’t having fun with social media, I would stop.
  • As a clinician, your institution has professionalism rules that forbid the use of social media. Such policies are becoming less common, but they exist. Make sure you read your institution’s social media policy.

12 tips for participating as an academic on Twitter:

1. Pick an account name that reflects what you want to convey. If you are joining Twitter, each character in your handle counts within a 140-character tweet. Shorter handles are easier for others to include. I use @hwitteman because that is the shortest version of the name under which I publish.

2. Decide whether you are going to have a single-topic account, or a mixed account. A single-topic account is a targeted account that sticks to a domain or topic. For example, @peterubel, @mcpoliti and @dlfrosch’s tweets are primarily related to their research areas. Mixed accounts, on the other hand, include a broader variety of interests. For example, in addition to their research topics, @mpignone88 and @WilliamDale_MD tweet about sports, @MEHogan1 tweets about the state of science and other pharmacy topics, @AMBayoumi tweets about political issues that affect health, @aslajoie and @HTGoldPhD tweet about current events, and I tweet about life as a person with type 1 diabetes and other things that interest me. Choosing your own approach is a preference-sensitive decision.

3. Decide what norms you are going to follow. Some people use services that automatically tweet their weekly social media statistics, their most engaged followers, or welcome new followers. I find these service-generated tweets inauthentic and annoying, but some people like them.

4. If you want followers, you need to fulfill one or more of these criteria: (1) be famous outside of Twitter; (2) post interesting things regularly; (3) participate in chats; and/or (4) follow people and engage with them. It isn’t just media, it’s social media. Connecting with new people you may not have met otherwise is the whole point.

5. Beware of trolls. Signs of a troll: they are being aggressive, they have few followers, and they have no image associated with their account, just the Twitter egg with which every new account starts. You can deal with trolls by ignoring them, reporting their tweets if they are abusive, and you can block people from seeing your tweets when they are logged in by using the block function. 

6. Understand hashtags. Hashtags are searchable keywords. When people click or search on a #hashtag, they see everything that authors have tagged with that keyword. Think of them like MeSH terms, except their definitions are defined by the community rather than being established by a committee of librarians. (Nothing against librarians; I like them, especially the one I married.) 

7. Use hashtags well. Hashtags help your tweets be seen by people who don’t follow you and but who do follow that hashtag. In general, a hashtag should be one or more of the following:  informative, topical, or funny. Please see for a long list of health-related hashtags. You can also make up new hashtags. Punctuation breaks a hashtag, so #decisionmaking works fine, but #decision-making does not. Be aware that using too many hashtags in one tweet makes your tweet look like spam. Before using a hashtag for the first time, you may wish to search the hashtag first to make sure you know what you’re getting into.

8. Tag people by including their handle. It is good form to tag people if you are tweeting about them or their work. If you discover something thanks to someone else, it’s polite to acknowledge that by tagging them with HT (hat tip) @person or via @person. Remember that if you start a tweet with @person it will be seen by fewer people: those who follow both of you, who view your full feed, or who search on something contained in the tweet, e.g., a hashtag. If you want it to be seen by more people, either put the tag after some text or start your tweet .@person.

9. Have conversations. You can reply to people’s tweets by clicking on the reply icon, by embedding their tweets in yours, or by using RT (retweet) or MT (modified retweet) to incorporate their text into your tweet. You can have more private conversations with people using the direct message function. This requires that either the other person follows you or has set their account to allow direct messages from anyone.

10. Number and thread your streams. If you’re going to post multiple tweets that follow each other, consider numbering them, e.g., 1/First tweet, 2/Second tweet, 3/3 Third and last one. It’s good practice to thread your streams by putting your second tweet as a reply to your first tweet (deleting your handle) so that the stream will all stay together.

11. Decide how many people you want to follow. I follow a relatively large number. I don’t try to drink from the fire hose and read everything they post. I see what I see when I am online. I create lists of some people to ensure that I see their tweets.

12. Unless you have a protected account – in which case all I wrote above about engaging with new people is irrelevant  – remember that everything you post is public. Imagine your chair, chief, or dean reading your tweet. (My chair and dean both follow me on Twitter, making this imagination exercise easier for me.) Twitter is sometimes described as a cocktail party, so have fun while keeping in mind that the party is public and is being recorded.

Some further resources:

Twitter 101 for academics:

About tweeting at conferences: and

About social media usage among scientists in general:

A list of #SMDM15 attendees’ Twitter handles:


Twitter Analytics from SMDM Conferences 

source: Holly Witteman, SMDM Social Media Report

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The opinions stated in the following commentaries are solely those of the authors and do not reflect the opinions of the Society for Medical Decision Making.


Developing Guidelines for Reporting Evaluation Studies of Patient Decision Aids

by Karen Sepucha, PhD, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School and Richard Thomson, MD, FRCP, FFPHM, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health

Patient decision aids (PDAs) disseminate evidence from patient-centered outcomes and comparative effectiveness research and thereby improve the quality of evidence-based, person-centered treatment decisions. In order for PDA research to be fully adopted by academics, stakeholders with responsibility for in-service implementation, and the general public, PDA research results need to be understandable, transparent, and of consistently high quality.  

The International Patient Decision Aid Standards (IPDAS) Collaboration has engaged multiple stakeholders around the world, including patients and consumers, to create theory- and evidence-informed criteria for the development of high quality patient decision aids (PDAs). The latest revision of the evidence base for IPDAS and the latest update of the Cochrane Collaborative systematic review on PDAs rely on appraising evaluation studies of PDAs (Stacey et al 2014; BMC special issue). However, investigators involved in these efforts have identified significant gaps in current publications. For example, PDA descriptions are often so poor that the Cochrane reviewers have to obtain the actual decision aids to identify incorporated components (e.g., patient stories, probabilities). Measurement descriptions are also often lacking, particularly for decision quality and decision making process measures, and this makes evaluation of tool impact difficult (Sepucha et al 2014). 

Although PDA study reporting would benefit from more careful attention to established guidelines, such as CONSORT for randomized controlled trials (Hopewell 2008) and TIDieR for interventions (Hoffman et al 2014), several issues appear to be unique to research on  PDAs. These findings prompted Drs. Sepucha and Thomson to form the IPDAS Reporting Guidelines (IPDAS-RG) Workgroup with the support of the IPDAS steering committee. 

The IPDAS-RG Workgroup follows a model for development of reporting guidelines promoted by EQUATOR, a national clearing house for reporting guidelines (EQUATOR 2014; Moher et al 2010). Under the direction of Drs. Sepucha and Thomson, the IPDAS-RG workgroup has recruited members, conducted a needs assessment and an environmental scan to identify existing guidelines that may overlap or supplement the work, drafted an initial list of potential items, conducted a pilot test using the draft list with published PDA studies, and gathered initial feedback from the shared decision making (SDM) research community during the 2015 ISDM meeting. The results confirm major gaps in reporting of PDA evaluation studies as well as gaps in currently available guidelines (such as CONSORT) for the purposes of reporting PDA evaluations.   

At this point, the Workgroup is planning a Delphi process to be conducted in early 2016 to engage a larger group of stakeholders to generate consensus on the content and wording of core items. The final deliverables, a Guideline Statement and a Checklist, will provide clear guidance to improve the quality of reported PDA evaluation studies and will be disseminated widely. Better reporting will allow meta-analyses and systematic reviews to advance our understanding of the most effective and efficient PDAs. Beyond the more immediate goal of improved transparency, quality, and completeness of reporting, the project is likely to improve dissemination and uptake of the results among non-research stakeholders such as clinicians, patients/consumers, advocates, and families. This, in turn, could support much-needed implementation of PDAs in a wide variety of care settings. 

SMDM members interested in participating in the Delphi consensus process are encouraged to contact Dr. Sepucha at
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Reflecting on the 2015 SMDM Annual Meeting 

by Scott LaJoie and James Stahl, Meeting Co-chairs

Reflecting back on the SMDM annual meeting in St Louis, we see a successful gathering and exchange of ideas. The theme of the meeting, implementation, threaded throughout the many presentations and discussions. Importantly, we had the opportunity to interact with policy leaders from various public and private sectors. Professor P.G. Forest shared in his keynote address many insights into the policymaking process, including the need for cooperation between the decision makers and the analysts with data. We also heard how the Food and Drug Administration is striving to better incorporate stakeholder preferences in its drug evaluation process. 

Representatives from healthcare, insurance, government and patient organizations shared the complicated, messy process of formulating, passing and implementing the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and called on the Society’s members to participate in the evaluation process. A panel focused on the opportunities and challenges of the vulnerable benefiting from the new coverage offered by the ACA . You can listen to the recording of the Vulnerable Populations panel by clicking this link ( Professor Adrienne Davis of Washington University St. Louis helped a meeting of SMDM women to develop between negotiating skills as a way to close the gender pay gap.

Social media reporters documented the meeting and disseminated our research findings to a broad Twitter audience; you can read their tweets captured here in a Storify ( 

This year’s Young Investigator Award for the best paper published by a trainee or junior faculty member was given to Joshua A. Roth, PhD, who was lead author on a paper entitled,  “Economic Return From the Women’s Health Initiative Estrogen Plus Progestin Clinical Trial: A Modeling Study,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, 2014. Lee B. Lusted Student Prizes for outstanding research presentations were awarded to: Cora Bernard and Phuc Le (Applied Health Economics); Katherine Courtright, MD and Sarah Munro (Decision Psychology and Share Decision Making); Ashish A. Desmukh and Kejing Jiang (Health Services and Policy Research); Ellen Janssen and Melissa Ross (Preference Assessment); Fernando Alarid-Escudero, MSc and Jake R. Morgan (Quantitative Methods and Theoretical Developments). Thank you to our Lusted reviewers and congratulations to all of this year’s winners! 

Outgoing president, Ahmed Bayoumi, shared the Society’s strategic plan that includes more international growth, engagement with stakeholders, and better sharing of our expertise in decision making. There was a moving tribute of two of our members who died this year, Seema Sonnad and Josh Hemmerich. Alan Schwartz, who was awarded the John M. Eisenberg Award for Practical Application of Medical Decision Making Research, implored us to make our models less wrong and more useful. He also reminded us that the fundamental fear of most people who are engaged in medical decisions is the perceived or real loss of control, dignity, and respect. Al Mushlin of Weill Cornell won the career achievement award and emphasized to us that decision sciences are imperative if comparative effectiveness research is ever to be beneficial.

All told, the 2015 SMDM Annual Meeting resulted in a successful exchange of ideas and gathering of old and new friends. Thank you to all who helped implement the conference!

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Best Short Course at the St. Louis Annual Meeting

by Rob Hamm and Liz Fenwick, 2015 Short Course Co-chairs, with thanks to John Wong and Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert

The Psychology of Medical Decision Making short course received the highest rating from its attendees at the 2015 SMDM Annual Meeting. This beginner level, half-day course is one of SMDM’s four core short courses. It introduces participants to psychological theory and empirical research related to making decisions in health and medicine. It covers 1) problems with decision making, 2) how the environment we operate in affects our decisions, 3) the role of emotions in decision making, 4) ways to address decision making errors, and 5) practical applications of the lessons from the psychology of decision making to medicine. Congratulations to Victoria Shaffer, Laura SchererMarieke de Vries, and Negin Hajizadeh!  We offered 18 short courses this year with an average of 14 students enrolled (ranging from 7 to 22). 
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2016 Call for Officers and Trustees 

The Nominations Committee of the Society for Medical Decision Making is soliciting nominations for the positions of:

Vice President–Elect
Secretary-Treasurer Elect
3 Trustees (including an International Trustee)

We invite SMDM members to submit the names of members whom you believe would serve the Society well. Self-nominations are encouraged. The Nominations Committee will consider all submitted names. At least 2 nominees will be selected for each position. Upon approval of the slate by the Board of Trustees, the list of nominees will be sent to all SMDM members. Additional nominees then will be accepted by petition, as described by the Society’s regulations.

Submit your nominations to Ahmed Bayoumi at or to Jill Metcalf at prior to 5:00 pm EST, February 26, 2016. Inclusion of information about the nominee’s past service to SMDM or other professional groups is helpful to the Nominations Committee’s deliberations. All nominations will remain confidential among the Nominations Committee until a slate is chosen.

Current and past SMDM Officers and Trustees gather at the 2015 Annual Meeting in St. Louis. If you, or someone you know, would like to serve the Society in this capacity, get your nomination in by February 26th. Click here for more information. 
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2016 Call for Award Nominations

Each year, SMDM recognizes leadership in the field of medical decision making. Nominations for the following awards are now being accepted:

The Career Achievement Award recognizes distinguished senior investigators who have made significant contributions to the field of medical decision making.

The Eugene Saenger Award for Distinguished Service recognizes service to SMDM in terms of leadership, role in the operations of the Society, and contributions to the scientific and educational activities of the Society. 

The John M. Eisenberg Award for Practical Application of Medical Decision Making Research recognizes an individual or organization that has demonstrated sustained leadership in translating medical decision making research into practice, and that has taken exceptional steps to communicate the principles and/or substantive findings of medical decision making research to policy makers, to clinical decision makers, and to the general public.

Outstanding Paper by a Young Investigator recognizes outstanding work by a young researcher and assisting the recipient in the tenure process.

Nominations must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on Friday, February 26, 2016. A letter of support for your candidate and, if available, the nominee’s CV is recommended, but not required. Nominations should be submitted via email to SMDM Executive Director, Jill Metcalf, at or SMDM Awards Committee Chair John Wong, at The awards will be presented at the 2016 SMDM Annual Meeting in Vancouver, Canada.

Click here for complete details on the nomination process, and be sure to get your nominations in by February 26th.
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Randall Grout Completes SMDM's Core Course Curriculum in Medical Decision Making

Congratulations to SMDM member Randall Grout for completing the Core Course Curriculum in medical decision making. Randall completed the curriculum at the 37th Annual North American Meeting in St. Louis, MO in October 2015.

The SMDM curriculum is an initiative of the Society with the goal of having a set of introductory level Core Courses in foundational aspects of medical decision making. This effort serves the core mission of the Society to educate its members in key content areas. Core Courses are offered at SMDM meetings and conferences in North America, Europe and Asia.

Click here to learn more about SMDM’s Core Course Curriculum and to view descriptions of the four Core Courses. 
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SMDM Members Featured on Public Radio

SMDM members' work has been receiving attention in the mainstream media. Three members were recently featured:

Doctors, Not Parents, Are The Biggest Obstacle To The HPV Vaccine looks at the work of lead study author, Melissa Gilkey, PhD, an assistant professor of population medicine at Harvard Medical School. She presented her findings at the recent St. Louis Meeting. 

Study Finds Reducing Stress May Cut Medical Spending focuses on the work of Dr. James Stahl, the lead researcher from Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and his study that was recently published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Treating Prisoners With Hepatitis C May Be Worth The Hefty Price looked at a study using agent-based simulation modeling proposes changes in hep C screening policies in prisons. Such policies would be cost-effective and reduce hep C transmission in the general population. Jag Chhatwal, PhD, along with other SMDM members including Mark Roberts, MD, and Turgay Ayer, PhD, published this study in Annals of Internal Medicine evaluating society-wide benefits of providing hepatitis C screening and treatment in U.S. prisons. Lead author, Tianhua He, is an MD student at Tsinghua University who conducted the study while visiting University of Pittsburgh
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Other News

The following article was published this month in Patient Education and Counseling and may be of interest to SMDM members: "Choosing treatment and screening options congruent with values: Do decision aids help? Sub-analysis of a systematic review". by Sarah Munro, MA, Dawn Stacey, RN, PhD, Krystina B. Lewis, RN, MN, and Nick Bansback, PhD. The paper was recently presented at the North American annual meeting in St. Louis and received a Lee B. Lusted student prize.

Angie FagerlinAfter 15 years at the University of Michigan, Angie Fagerlin, PhD, has left to become Chair of the University of Utah School of Medicine's new Department of Population Health Sciences.

Dr. Fagerlin's passion for conducting research that informs clinical practice will prove invaluable as the Department of Population Health Sciences opens the multidisciplinary pathways of discovery needed to advance health care.

Click here to learn more.


A number of new multimedia decision aids are now available at hundreds of hospitals and health plans. In addition to patients and clinicians, decision science advisors on the the programs included SMDM members Nananda ColGlyn Elwyn, and Angie Fagerlin. These and many other decision aids including Considering CT Lung Cancer ScreeningConsidering Prenatal Genetic TestingDCIS Treatment Options, and Ulcerative Colitis Surgical Treatment Options are available for use in research.  

"Listening for What Matters: Avoiding Contextual Errors in Health Care," the new book by Saul Weiner and Alan Schwartz, is available for order from Oxford University Press or Amazon.

The book describes their decade-long research program using concealed audio recordings by real patients and actors to study how well physicians identify individual patient life context relevant to their care and incorporate it into treatment plans.

More details and ordering information can be found at the Contextualizing Care Website:
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Job Postings

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: HSR&D Deputy Director and 2 Scientific Program Managers, Washington, DC
The Health Services Research and Development (HSR&D) program within the Office of Research and Development has received approval to fill several open positions for which we anticipate initiating recruitment activities in the very near future. A high priority for HSR&D is the Deputy Director for HSR&D, a key leadership position for our $90 million program and 25 person office. The Deputy Director helps shape the direction of the research program with the Director, functions as Chief Science Officer for the service, oversees our PhD scientific program managers and builds relationships with research stakeholders within and outside VA. Other senior positions include two Scientific Program Managers, each responsible for oversight of specific research portfolio areas and coordination of the scientific merit review process. All positions are based in Washington DC and cannot be performed virtually. Anyone interested in finding out more about these or other opportunities in HSR&D should contact Liza Catucci at or 202-443-5797. USAJOBS advertisements may be released in January 2016.  We will be happy to keep those who are interested updated about the official posting of the positions through the USAJOBS.GOV. Official applications window via USAJOBS.GOV may be posted only for several days.

Washington University School of Medicine and the Siteman Cancer Center, a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, are seeking applications for Postdoctoral Fellowships in Cancer Prevention and Control. We are particularly interested in candidates with an interest in health behavior and health disparities research, community-based research, cancer communication, epidemiology or decision sciences. However, all applications will be considered. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, but the deadline to submit your application for 2016-2017 is February 1, 2016. 
Eligibility: PhD, DrPH, MD, or other doctoral degree in a public health related discipline, or a doctoral degree in another discipline with interest in transitioning to public health research.
-Diverse faculty and transdisciplinary environment
-Trainees linked with a mentoring team
-Support for further training and professional development
-Competitive salary and benefits
-Two years of support, possible 3rd year
-Funding is possible through a T32 grant from the NCI
To apply or for more information:
To apply, go to Or, send CV, cover letter, and list of reference to: Graham A. Colditz, MD DrPH;, Niess-Gain Professor, Chief, Division of Public Health Sciences,, Department of Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine. Inquiries can be directed to Dr. Aimee James (Training Director) at

The following positions have been recently posted in the Resource Section of SMDM Connect
  • Faculty Openings, Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, University of MichiganPostdoctoral research position (focus on physician decision making) - Imperial College London
  • Senior Director, National Quality Forum 
  • Faculty Positions, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Section of Decision Sciences
  • Health Economist, The Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) 
  • Senior Research Specialist University of Chicago, Center for Translational and Policy Research of Chronic Diseases
  • Chair, Department of Health Behavior and Policy - School of Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Assistant Associate Professor, Pharmacy, Idaho State University
  • Faculty opening in Health Services Research at MD Anderson Cancer Center
  • Director of Cancer Prevention and Control, John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center
Check out all the details and the latest Job Postings Here
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SMDM Lifetime Contributors

SMDM extends its heartfelt appreciation to members for their charitable contributions over the years!
Raiffa-Kahneman Circle
(Contributions total $5,000 or more)
John Clarke ('13, '14)
Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert ('13, '14)
Mark Helfand (‘05, ‘07, '10, '11)
Michael Kattan ('13 - '15)
Joseph King (‘06 - '15)
James Stahl, Stahl Family/Stahl Bioethics Foundation in honor of Dr. Eva Bamberger Stahl (‘06, ‘09, '10, '12, ‘15)

Pareto Level
(Contributions total $1,000 - $4,999)
Dana Alden ('12 - ‘15)
Michael Barry (‘06 - '10)
Ahmed Bayoumi (‘06, '08 - ‘15)
Dennis Fryback (‘05 -'15)
Murray Krahn ('13, '14)
William Lawrence (‘06, '10, '11, '13, ‘15)
Jill Metcalf (‘07 - '15)
David Rovner & Margaret Holmes-Rovner (‘05 - '15)
Bruce Schackman (‘06 -'15)
Marilyn Schapira (‘07 - '12, '14 - '15)
Uwe Siebert ('11, '13, '14)
Frank Sonnenberg (‘06, ‘09)
Harold and Carol Sox ('10 - '15)
Sankey Williams (‘06 - ‘08, '13, '14)
John Wong (‘06 - '13)

Edwards Level
(Contributions total $750 - $999)
Ahmed Bayoumi (‘06, '08 - ‘14)
Neal Dawson (‘05 - '15)
Sara Knight (‘05 - '15)
David Meltzer ('07, '09)
Stephen Pauker (‘06, ‘09)
Mark Roberts (‘08, ‘09, '13, ‘15)
Seema Sonnad (‘06, ‘07, ‘09, '12 - '14)
Joel Tsevat (‘06, ‘09, '10)

Tversky Level
(Contributions total $500 - $749)
Anirban Basu ('13)
Robert Beck (‘07)
Donald Brand ('13 - '15) 
Scott Cantor & Lisa Stone (‘07 - '14) 
Kate Christensen (‘09)
Nananda Col (‘05 - ‘09)
Angela Fagerlin ('14 – ‘15)
Peder Halvorsen ('11 - '15)
Myriam Hunink (‘05 - '14)
Steven Kymes (‘05 - ‘09, '12, '15)
Kathryn McDonald (‘07, '09, '10, '14, '15)
David Paltiel ('07, '09)
Alan Schwartz (‘07, '10 - '15)
David Sugano (‘07, ’09 – '11, '13)
Jef van den Ende (’10, '14)

von Neumann-Morgenstern Level
(Contributions total $250 - $499)
Amber Barnato (‘05, ‘07, '11, '12, '14)
Dena Bravata (‘06, ’09 -  '11)
Andy Briggs ('14)
Randall Cebul (‘06, ‘08, '10)
Mark Eckman (’06, ‘09)
Elena Elkin (‘07, '14)
Arthur Elstein (‘06, ‘07, ‘09, ‘10) 
Heather Taffet Gold (‘08, '11, '14)
Don Husereau ('13)
Karen Kuntz (‘09, '11)
Miriam Kuppermann (‘06 - '10, '12, '14 - '15)
Thomas Tape ('10, '11, '14)
Robert Wigton ('10, '11, '14)

Markov Level
(Contributions total $100 - $249)
Cathy Bradley (‘07)
Scott Braithwaite (’09)
Linda Canty ('12)
Jag Chhatwal ('15)
Phaedra Corso (‘06, ‘07, ‘08)
Magdelena Flatscher-Thöni ('14)
Liz Fenwick ('14 – ‘15)
Alan Garber ('10)
Robert Hamm (‘06, ‘08, '14)
Joseph Johnston (’15)
Paal Joranger (‘14)
Esther Kaufmann ('11)
Sun-Young Kim (‘07, ‘08, ‘10, '13)
Joseph Ladapo ('12 - '15)
Curtis Langlotz ('12)
Lisa Maillart ('10)
Peter Neumann ('14 - ’15)
Richard Orr (‘05, ‘06)
Jesse D. Ortendahl ('11, '12, '13)
Mary Politi ('14 -‘15)
Roy Poses ('14)
Brian Rittenhouse (‘07)
Ursula Rochau ('14)
Allison Rosen (‘07)
Natasha Stout ('14)
Verena Stühlinger ('14)
Joanne Sutherland (‘08, ‘09)
John Thornbury (‘05)
George Torrance (‘05)
Benjavan Upatising ('13)
Brian Zikmund-Fisher (‘08 - '15)

Bayes Level
(Contributions total up to $100)
Jessica Ancker ('14)
Hilary Bekker ('12)
Eran Bendavid ('11)
Tanya Bentley ('14)
Denise Bijlenga (‘08)
Kimberly Blake (‘09)
Cindy Bryce ('14)
Rowland Chang (‘06, ‘07)
Carmel Crock (‘09)
James Dolan (‘09)
Arna Dresser ('10, 12, '14)
Rohan D'Sousa ('15)
Ted Ganiats (‘05)
Lee Green (‘07, ‘09)
Amit Gupta (‘06)
Michael Hagen ('10)
Negin Hajizadeh ('14)
Sarah Hawley ('14)
Kristin Hendrix ('14)
David Howard (‘09)
David Katz (’08)
Job Kievit (‘09)
Kerry Kilbridge (‘05, ‘07, ‘08)
April Kimmel ('14)
Sarah Kobrin ('14)
Ivar Sonbo Kristiansen ('10)
Andrew Scott LaJoie ('10)
Clara Lee ('15)
Sarah Lillie ('14 – ‘15)
Andreas Maetzel (‘09)
Daniel Masica (‘08)
Evan Myers ('12)
Thomas B. Newman ('10)
Jane Pai ('10)
George Papadopoulos (‘08)
Lisa Prosser (‘08)
Valeria Reyna ('14)
Michael Rothberg (‘09 - '12)
Gillian Sanders (‘07)
Jha Saurabh (‘09)
Karen Sepucha ('14)
Ewout Steyerberg (‘06, ‘09, '11, '13)
Anne Stiggelbout (‘06)
Carol Stockman (‘05)
Danielle Timmermans (‘07)
Thomas Trikalinos (’15)
Hugues Vaillancourt ('11)
Erika Waters ('14)
Milton Weinstein (‘09, '11)
Robert Werner (‘08)
Holly Witteman ('14)
Eve Wittenberg ('14)
Theodore Yuo ('15)

Donations received Oct. 2005 – December 31, 2015.
Bolded individuals made contributions since the last report. 
Italicized individuals moved up a level of giving in 2015.
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Meeting News
SMDM meetings provide a highly interactive forum for discussion of novel research based on decision and behavior theory and analytical models applied to health related decisions. Presentations of original research, keynote talks, special symposia and short courses offer attendees the opportunity to explore diverse topics in medical decision making and the unique ability to connect with colleagues one to one. We hope to see you there! 

16th Biennial European SMDM Conference in London:
Call for Abstracts Opens Mid-January

The Society for Medical Decision Making and the NIHR Patient Safety Translational Research Centre of Imperial College London are proud to host the 16th Biennial SMDM-European Conference in London, June 12-14, 2016.

The meeting will be held at 30 Euston Square, the home of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). This is an award-winning venue with excellent conference facilities, some on-site accommodation, and is within walking distance from a number of hotels and restaurants. It is in the heart of London, next to Euston station and 5 minutes from St Pancras station (Eurostar terminal).

The meeting’s special focus is on “Improving Diagnostic Decision Making”, with a special symposium on reducing cancer diagnostic delays. The meeting’s keynote speakers are Professor Ralph Hertwig, Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development and Mark L. Graber, Senior Fellow at RTI International, Professor Emeritus of Medicine at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and President of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. Our aim is to bring together high-quality, oral and poster presentations from psychology, epidemiology, health economics and other scientific disciplines involved in the study of medical decisions.

Click here for more information.

Chair: Olga Kostopoulou, PhD, MSc, Imperial College London
Co-chairs: Anne Stiggelbout, PhD, Leiden University Medical Center, and Elisabeth Fenwick, PhD, MSc, ICON Health Economics

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The Winter issue of our Journal, Medical Decision Making, is available for your review.

Copyright © 2016 Society For Medical Decision Making, All rights reserved.

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Hillsborough, NJ 08844

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