Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH

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“We bring a practical approach to mental health research, working to break down barriers between research and real-world health care.”

Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH

Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
Psychiatrist, Washington Permanente Medical Group
Professor, Department of Health Systems Science, Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine
Research Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington

Biography

Greg Simon, MD, MPH, is a psychiatrist and senior investigator well-known for his extensive research on practical approaches to improving mental health care. He seeks to develop and evaluate effective real-world strategies that support better mental health and wellness.  Current areas of emphasis include identifying and assessing suicide risk, improving care for treatment-resistant depression, and early intervention for mental health conditions in children and youth.

Dr. Simon leads the Mental Health Research Network (MHRN), a consortium of research centers affiliated with 13 large health systems across the United States, including Kaiser Permanente Washington. This network, funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Mental Health, aims to improve the efficiency, relevance, and impact of mental health clinical and health services research. Now in its second five-year funding cycle, the MHRN is exploring a broad range of issues—including suicide prevention, improving heart health in people with serious mental illness, using electronic medical records to improve follow-up care for depression, and understanding the causes of racial and ethnic disparities in mental health care.

Dr. Simon and his MHRN colleagues are conducting several large studies across MHRN health systems, including:

  • A pragmatic trial in four health systems examining the effect of systematic outreach programs to prevent suicide attempt among people at high risk.
  • Using electronic health records from seven health systems to develop and validate machine learning models to identify people at high risk of suicidal behavior.
  • A pragmatic trial in two health systems evaluating electronic health record tools to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease in people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
  • A rigorous evaluation of Zero Suicide care improvement programs in six health systems
  • Developing measures to assess quality of care for depression in two health systems.

Dr. Simon is an editor for the Cochrane Collaboration’s depression and anxiety review group, sits on the editorial board for General Hospital Psychiatry, and serves on the advisory board for the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Program (formerly Precision Medicine Initiative).   Earlier, he served on the editorial boards of Psychiatric Services and Psychological Medicine and chaired the scientific advisory board for the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. Dr. Simon has practiced adult psychiatry in Kaiser Permanente Washington's Mental Health and Wellness Service since 1990 and is a research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.​​​

Research interests and experience

  • Mental Health

    Depression; bipolar disorder; suicide prevention; self-management; treatment adherence

  • Chronic Illness Management

    Comorbidity of mental health conditions with obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and substance use disorders.

Recent publications

Richards JE, Simon GE, Boggs JM, Beidas R, Yarborough BJH, Coleman KJ, Sterling SA, Beck A, Flores JP, Bruschke C, Grumet JG, Stewart CC, Schoenbaum M, Westphal J, Ahmedani BK. An implementation evaluation of "Zero Suicide" using normalization process theory to support high-quality care for patients at risk of suicide. Implement Res Pract. 2021 Jan 1;2:10.1177/26334895211011769. doi: 10.1177/26334895211011769. Epub 2021 May 24. PubMed

Coley RY, Walker RL, Cruz M, Simon GE, Shortreed SM. Clinical risk prediction models and informative cluster size: assessing the performance of a suicide risk prediction algorithm. Biom J. 2021 Oct;63(7):1375-1388. doi: 10.1002/bimj.202000199. Epub 2021 May 24. PubMed

Simon GE, Platt R, Watanabe JH, Bindman AB, London AJ, Horberg M, Hernandez A, Califf RM. When can we rely on real-world evidence to evaluate new medical treatments? Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Jan;111(1):30-34. doi: 10.1002/cpt.2253. Epub 2021 May 19. PubMed

Richards JE, Hohl SD, Segal CD, Grossman DC, Lee AK, Whiteside U, Luce C, Ludman EJ, Simon G, Penfold RB, Williams EC. "What will happen if I say yes?" perspectives on a standardized firearm access question among adults with depressive symptoms. Psychiatr Serv.2021 Aug 1;72(8):898-904. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202000187. Epub 2021 May 4. PubMed

Watanabe JH, Simon GE, Horberg M, Platt R, Hernandez A, Califf RM. When are treatment blinding and treatment standardization necessary in real-world clinical trials? Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Jan;111(1):116-121. doi: 10.1002/cpt.2256. Epub 2021 May 2. PubMed

Coley RY, Johnson E, Simon GE, Cruz M, Shortreed SM. Racial/ethnic disparities in the performance of prediction models for death by suicide after mental health visits. JAMA Psychiatry. 2021 Apr 28:e210493. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2021.0493. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Hecht LM, Yeh HH, Braciszewski JM, Miller-Matero LR, Thakrar A, Patel S, Simon GE, Lynch FL, Beck A, Owen-Smith AA, Rossom RC, Waitzfelder BE, Lu CY, Boggs JM, Ahmedani BK. Weighing the association between BMI change and suicide mortality. Psychiatr Serv. 2021 Apr 22:appips202000475. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.202000475. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Simon GE, Stewart CC, Gary MC, Richards JE. Detecting and assessing suicide ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Jt Comm J Qual Patient Saf. 2021 Apr 22:S1553-7250(21)00095-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jcjq.2021.04.002. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Whiteside U, Richards J, Simon GE. Brief interventions via electronic health record messaging for population-based suicide prevention: mixed methods pilot study. JMIR Form Res. 2021;5(4):e21127. doi: 10.2196/21127. PubMed

Franklin JM, Platt R, Dreyer NA, London AJ, Simon GE, Watanabe JH, Horberg M, Hernandez A, Califf RM. When can nonrandomized studies support valid inference regarding effectiveness or safety of new medical treatments? Clin Pharmacol Ther. 2021 Apr 7. doi: 10.1002/cpt.2255. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

 

Research

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Improving and advancing mental health care

KPWHRI researchers are contributing to better mental health care for people nationwide.

New findings

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Simpler models to identify suicide risk perform similarly to more complex ones

Models that are easier to explain, use could have better uptake in health care settings.

Research

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Asking about firearm access can normalize and support dialogue for patients

Findings provide roadmap for addressing barriers and improving suicide prevention.

recognition

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Dr. Greg Simon wins national suicide prevention award

Kaiser Permanente physician-scientist will receive American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's Lifesavers Research Award.

KPWHRI In the Media

Understanding rise in youth emergency visits for mental health

Rise in suicide-related ED visits among youth raises larger questions around mental health care

STAT News, May 2, 2023