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
Simon GE, Shortreed SM, Coley RY, Penfold RB, Rossom RC, Waitzfelder BE, Sanchez K, Lynch FL. Assessing and minimizing re-identification risk in research data derived from health care records. eGEMS (Wash DC). 2019;7(1):6. doi: 10.5334/egems.270. PubMed
Simon GE, Johnson E, Lawrence JM, Rossom RC, Ahmedani B, Lynch FL, Beck A, Waitzfelder B, Ziebell R, Penfold RB, Shortreed SM. Predicting suicide attempts and suicide deaths following outpatient visits using electronic health records. Am J Psychiatry. 2018 May 24:appiajp201817101167. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.17101167. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Lu CY, Penfold RB, Toh S, Sturtevant JL, Madden JM, Simon G, Ahmedani BK, Clarke G, Coleman KJ, Copeland LA, Daida YG, Davis RL, Hunkeler EM, Owen-Smith A, Raebel MA, Rossom R, Soumerai SB, Kulldorff M. Near real-time surveillance for consequences of health policies using sequential analysis. Med Care. 2018 May;56(5):365-372. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0000000000000893. PubMed
Simon GE, Stewart C, Yarborough BJ, Lynch F, Coleman KJ, Beck A, Operskalski BH, Penfold RB, Hunkeler EM. Mortality rates after the first diagnosis of psychotic disorder in adolescents and young adults. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018 Mar 1;75(3):254-260. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.4437. PubMed
Simon GE, Stewart C, Hunkeler EM, Yarborough BJ, Lynch F, Coleman KJ, Beck A, Operskalski BH, Penfold RB, Carrell DS. Care pathways before first diagnosis of a psychotic disorder in adolescents and young adults. Am J Psychiatry. 2018 May 1;175(5):434-442. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17080844. Epub 2018 Jan 24. 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