Marlaine Gray, PhD

“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

Areas of focus:

  • Patient-Centered Care
  • Cancer Care and End of Life Care
  • Complementary & Integrative Health
  • Integrative Medicine and Arts in Healing Programs
  • Medical Education
  • Global Health


Marlaine 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 there are no medical treatments 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. Gray has extensive experience analyzing qualitative data. At Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), she uses this expertise to examine how patients, family members and physicians conceptualize "ideal" or patient-and-family centered care, medication decision making during pregnancy, and medical decision making by young adults with advanced cancer. 

Dr. Gray is also a member of KPWHRI's Center for Community Health and Evaluation (CCHE), where she uses her expertise to evaluate clinical care and vaccination initiatives.


  • Patient-Centered Care

    Shared decision making; care logics
  • Cancer Care and End of Life Care

    Oncology support and care; end of life decision making
  • Complementary & Integrative Health

    Implementation of alternative healing programs in US hospitals; patient and provider experience of alternative healing programs
  • Integrative Medicine and Arts in Healing Programs

    Participant experience; benefits; values and funding; legacy projects 
  • Medical Education

    Use of the arts in medical education; history of medical education; medical school curriculum development
  • 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;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 Aug 10. doi: 10.1089/jayao.2018.0048. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed


Healthy Findings Blog

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.

Read about it in Healthy Findings

Patient perspectives

What young adults with advanced cancer are telling The Clare Project

Patients, families, caregivers, and providers are talking to researchers about care decisions and social media communities. Here’s what they’re saying.

Read about it in Healthy Findings.

Learn More

The Clare Project

The Clare Project is a small research study to learn more about how young adults with cancer make choices about their medical care.