Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD

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“Listening to patient experiences of health, illness, and medical care is a privilege, and my most important work.”

Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD

Assistant Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Biography

Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD, is a medical anthropologist with a passion for eliciting illness narratives and health care experiences from patients, family members, and medical professionals. She has researched how the intersection of creative practices and medical care provide insight into understanding the logic of biomedical care, what counts as evidence that a creative activity "works," and how arts activities can serve as a model of how to provide better, more patient- and family-centered care. She is particularly interested in how we attend to patient suffering, and in what types of care are possible when no medical treatments are available.

Her previous work includes examining education policy in sub-Saharan Africa and developing curricula for health education, specifically HIV/AIDS education in Kenya and Mozambique.

Dr. Figueroa Gray has extensive experience designing qualitative studies and analyzing qualitative data. At Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), she uses this expertise to examine how patients, family members, and physicians make medical decisions when outcomes are uncertain and stakes are high, such as deciding whether or not to participate in an immunotherapy trial, or choosing which treatments to pursue as an adolescent or young adult with advanced cancer. She founded the KPWHRI Qualitative Research Interest Group, which supports outstanding qualitative research at the institute.

RESEARCH INTERESTS AND EXPERIENCE

  • Child & Adolescent Health

  • Social Determinants of Health

  • Complementary & Integrative Health

    Implementation of alternative healing programs in U.S. hospitals; patient and provider experience of alternative healing programs
     
  • Medical Education

    Use of the arts in medical education; history of medical education; medical school curriculum development
  • Cancer Care and End of Life Care

    Oncology support and care; end of life decision making
     
  • Integrative Medicine and Arts in Healing Programs

    Participant experience; benefits; values and funding; legacy projects
  • Patient-Centered Care

    Shared decision making; care logics

  • Global Health

    HIV/AIDS education; maternal and child health; sub-Saharan Africa

Recent publications

Hsu C, Gray MF, Murray L, Abraham M, Nickel W, Sweeney JM, Frosch DL, Mroz TM, Ehrlich K, Johnson B, Reid RJ. Actions and processes that patients, family members, and physicians associate with patient- and family-centered care. BMC Fam Pract. 2019 Feb 25;20(1):35. doi: 10.1186/s12875-019-0918-7. PubMed

Figueroa Gray M, Hsu C, Kiel L, Dublin S. Getting through the day: a pilot qualitative study of U.S. women's experiences making decisions about anti-nausea medication during pregnancy. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2018;18(1):475. doi: 10.1186/s12884-018-2093-6. PubMed

Hsu C, Hertel E, Johnson E, Cahill C, Lozano P, Ross TR, Ehrlich K, Coleman K, BlueSpruce J, Cheadle A, Matthys J, Chapdelaine M, Gray M, Tufte J, Robbins M. Evaluation of the Learning to Integrate Neighborhoods and Clinical Care project: findings from implementing a new lay role into primary care teams to address social determinants of health. Perm J. 2018; 22:18-101.Published online 2018 Oct 22.doi: 10.7812/TPP/18-101.

Figueroa Gray M, Ludman EJ, Beatty T, Rosenberg AR, Wernli KJ. Balancing hope and risk among adolescent and young adult cancer patients with late-stage cancer: a qualitative interview study. J Adolesc Young Adult Oncol. 2018 Dec;7(6):673-680. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2018.0048. Epub 2018 Aug 10. PubMed

Figueroa Gray M, Hsu C, Kiel L, Dublin S. "It's a very big burden on me": women's experiences using insulin for gestational diabetes. Matern Child Health J. 2017 Jan 13. doi: 10.1007/s10995-017-2261-8. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

 

Healthy findings blog

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Creating meaning in health care

Research by Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD, includes exploring the intersection of medicine and creativity.

VOICE STUDY

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Understanding young adults’ experiences with cancer

The VOICE study aims to improve the health and health care of people who had cancer as adolescents and young adults.

clare project study

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Young adults with cancer speak about balancing hope and risk

The first Clare Project study asked about values and care preferences. Project leaders are now building on that foundation.