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, 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
Simon GE, Johnson E, Stewart C, Rossom RC, Beck A, Coleman KJ, Waitzfelder B, Penfold R, Operskalski BH, Shortreed SM. Does patient adherence to antidepressant medication actually vary between physicians? J Clin Psychiatry. 2018 May/Jun;79(3). pii: 16m11324. doi: 10.4088/JCP.16m11324. PubMed
Franz B, Skinner D, Kerr AM, Penfold R, Kelleher K. Hospital-community partnerships: facilitating communication for population health on Columbus' south side. Health Commun. 2018 Dec;33(12):1462-1474. doi: 10.1080/10410236.2017.1359033. Epub 2017 Aug 29. PubMed
Skinner D, Franz B, Kelleher K, Penfold R. Community perceptions of hospitals and shared physical space: a qualitative study. Cult Med Psychiatry. 2018 Mar;42(1):131-158. doi: 10.1007/s11013-017-9546-7. PubMed
Models that are easier to explain and use could have better uptake in health care settings.
The HCSRN conference is a venue for collaborative work to improve health and health care.
Using doctor's notes to learn about drug reactions, dementia, and cannabis use.
Rob Penfold, PhD, writes about suicide trends in children and adolescents and what researchers are doing about them.