Robert Penfold, PhD, is a health services research and health policy expert whose work focuses on developing and testing strategies to optimize behavioral health care delivery and patient outcomes—particularly in children and adolescents. His research addresses practical issues, such as how to reduce unnecessary use of antipsychotic medications in youth. He also studies the effects of cost-control policies on how clinicians deliver care, how people use care, and how those changes can promote or worsen their health.
Dr. Penfold is a co-investigator in the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN), a resource for studies on mental health conditions ranging from autism to postnatal depression. He leads the MHRN’s child and adolescent scientific interest group. He is also investigating reasons why similar patients receive different mental health treatment, such as different medications, depending on where they live or receive care.
His other recent and ongoing projects include:
Dr. Penfold has extensive experience gathering and analyzing information from large health databases, including those of Medicare, Medicaid, and the Health Care Systems Research Network’s Virtual Data Warehouse. These data and analyses allow rapid information sharing among Kaiser Permanente Washington and participating sites, which improves patient safety and timely access to effective, cutting-edge therapies.
He has also conducted several novel pragmatic clinical trials using the Epic electronic health record system.
Before joining KPWHRI in 2010, Dr. Penfold held research and teaching positions at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio; the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority; the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy; and most recently, at Harvard Medical School in the Department of Population Medicine and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute.
Children and adolescents; anti-psychotics and anti-depressants; bipolar disorder, and depression
Comparative effectiveness; consumer-directed health plans; patient outcomes; costs of chronic illnesses; Medicare and Medicaid
Space-time surveillance; interrupted time series analysis
Ludman EJ, McCorkle R, Bowles EA, Rutter CM, Chubak J, Tuzzio L, Jones S, Reid RJ, Penfold R, Wagner EH. Do depressed newly diagnosed cancer patients differentially benefit from nurse navigation? Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2015 Feb 28. pii: S0163-8343(15)00038-9. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.02.008 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Jones SM, Ludman EJ, McCorkle R, Reid R, Bowles EJ, Penfold R, Wagner EH. A differential item function analysis of somatic symptoms of depression in people with cancer. J Affect Disord. 2015 Jan 1;170:131-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.09.002. Epub 2014 Sep 10. PubMed
Miller CJ, Li M, Penfold RB, Lee AF, Smith EG, Osser DN, Bajor L, Bauer MS. Patterns of initiation of second generation antipsychotics for bipolar disorder: a month-by-month analysis of provider behavior. BMC Psychiatry. 2014 Nov 30;14:339. doi: 10.1186/s12888-014-0339-z. PubMed
Bauer MS, Lee A, Miller CJ, Bajor L, Li M, Penfold RB. Effects of diagnostic inclusion criteria on prevalence and population characteristics in database research. Psychiatr Serv. 2015 Feb 1;66(2):141-8. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201400115. Epub 2014 Oct 15. PubMed
Raebel MA, Penfold R, McMahon AW, Reichman M, Shetterly S, Goodrich G, Andrade S, Correll CU, Gerhard T. Adherence to guidelines for glucose assessment in starting second-generation antipsychotics. Pediatrics. 2014 Nov;134(5):e1308-14. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0828. Epub 2014 Oct 6. PubMed
Rob Penfold, PhD, writes about suicide trends in children and adolescents and what researchers are doing about them.
Dr. Sascha Dublin explains why sometimes not taking medications may be a safer and healthier choice.
A new study shows how a little supplemental support can result in big gains, especially in managing patients’ blood pressure.
Bloomberg Businessweek, Feb. 5, 2019