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

Coley RY, Boggs JM, Beck A, Hartzler AL, Simon GE. Defining success in measurement-based care for depression: a comparison of common metrics.  Psychiatr Serv. 2019 Dec 18:appips201900295. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201900295. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Richards JE, Shortreed SM, Simon GE, Penfold RB, Glass JE, Ziebell R, Williams EC. Short-term risk of suicide attempt associated with patterns of patient-reported alcohol use determined by routine AUDIT-C among adults receiving mental healthcare.  Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2020 Jan-Feb;62:79-86. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2019.12.002. Epub 2019 Dec 18. PubMed

Simon GE, Shortreed SM, Rossom RC, Penfold RB, Sperl-Hillen JAM, O'Connor P. Principles and procedures for data and safety monitoring in pragmatic clinical trials.  Trials. 2019 Dec 9;20(1):690. doi: 10.1186/s13063-019-3869-3. PubMed

Boggs JM, Lindrooth RC, Battaglia C, Beck A, Ritzwoller DP, Ahmedani BK, Rossom RC, Lynch FL, Lu CY, Waitzfelder BE, Owen-Smith AA, Simon GE, Anderson HD. Association between suicide death and concordance with benzodiazepine treatment guidelines for anxiety and sleep disorders.  Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2019 Nov 17;62:21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2019.11.005. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Coleman KJ, Yarborough BJ, Beck A, Lynch FL, Stewart C, Penfold RS, Hunkeler EM, Operskalski BH, Simon GE. Patterns of health care utilization before first episode psychosis in racial and ethnic groups.  Ethn Dis. 2019 Oct 17;29(4):609-616. doi: 10.18865/ed.29.4.609. eCollection 2019 Fall.  PubMed

Simon GE, Shortreed SM, Johnson E, Rossom RC, Lynch FL, Ziebell R, Penfold ARB. What health records data are required for accurate prediction of suicidal behavior? J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2019 Dec 1;26(12):1458-1465. doi: 10.1093/jamia/ocz136. PubMed

Ahmedani BK, Westphal J, Autio K, Elsiss F, Peterson EL, Beck A, Waitzfelder BE, Rossom RC, Owen-Smith AA, Lynch F, Lu CY, Frank C, Prabhakar D, Braciszewski JM, Miller-Matero LR, Yeh HH, Hu Y, Doshi R, Waring SC, Simon GE. Variation in patterns of health care before suicide: a population case-control study.  Prev Med. 2019 Oct;127:105796. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.105796. Epub 2019 Aug 7. PubMed

Simon GE. Self-reported suicidal ideation as a predictor of suicidal behavior.  Psychiatr Serv. 2019;70(7):637-638. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.70704.  PubMed

Simon GE, Shortreed SM, Coley RY. Positive predictive values and potential success of suicide prediction models. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019 Jun 26. pii: 2737196. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.1516. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Yeh HH, Westphal J, Hu Y, Peterson EL, Williams LK, Prabhakar D, Frank C, Autio K, Elsiss F, Simon GE, Beck A, Lynch FL, Rossom RC, Lu CY, Owen-Smith AA, Waitzfelder BE, Ahmedani BK. Diagnosed mental health conditions and risk of suicide mortality. Psychiatr Serv. 2019 Sep 1;70(9):750-757. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201800346. Epub 2019 Jun 12. 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