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
Austin SB, Penfold RB, Johnson RL, Haines J, Forman S. Clinician identification of youth abusing over-the-counter products for weight control in a large US integrated health system. J Eat Disord. 2013; 1:40.
Penfold RB, Zhang F. Use of interrupted time series analysis in evaluating health care quality improvements. Acad Pediatr. 2013 Nov-Dec;13(6 Suppl):S38-44. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2013.08.002. PubMed
Penfold RB, Stewart C, Hunkeler EM, Madden JM, Cummings JR, Owen-Smith AA, Rossom RC, Lu CY, Lynch FL, Waitzfelder BE, Coleman KA, Ahmedani BK, Beck AL, Zeber JE, Simon GE. Use of antipsychotic medications in pediatric populations: what do the data say? Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013 Dec;15(12):426. doi: 10.1007/s11920-013-0426-8. PubMed
Mohr DC, Bauer MS, Penfold RB. Changes in VA psychiatrists' attitudes about work environment and turnover during mental health service enhancement. Psychiatr Serv. 2013 Jun 1;64(6):563-9. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200337. Epub 2013 Mar 15. PubMed
Bajor LA, Lai Z, Goodrich DE, Miller CJ, Penfold RB, Kim HM, Bauer MS, Kilbourne AM. Posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and health-related quality of life in patients with bipolar disorder: review and new data from a multi-site community clinic sample. J Affect Disord. 2013 Feb 20;145(2):232-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2012.08.005. Epub 2012 Sep 27. 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