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
Ahmedani BK, Yeh HH, Penfold RB, Simon GE, Miller-Matero LR, Akinyemi E, Fallone M, Patel S, Beebani G, Hooker SA, Owen-Smith A, Knowlton G, Levin A, Eke-Usim A, Rossom RC. Psychotherapy disruption before and after the transition to virtual mental health care induced by the COVID-19 pandemic. Psychiatr Serv. 2023 Oct 11:appips20230181. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.20230181. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Casey Lion K, Arthur KC, García MF, Hsu C, Sotelo Guerra LJ, Chisholm H, Griego E, Ebel BE, Penfold RB, Rafton S, Zhou C, Mangione-Smith R. Pilot evaluation of the Family Bridge Program, a communication- and culture-focused inpatient patient navigation program. Acad Pediatr. 2023 Jun 22:S1876-2859(23)00228-0. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2023.06.021. Online ahead of print. PubMed
Chavez LJ, Richards JE, Fishman P, Yeung K, Renz A, Quintana LM, Massimino S, Penfold RB. Cost of implementing an evidence-based intervention to support safer use of antipsychotics in youth. Adm Policy Ment Health. 2023 Sep;50(5):725-733. doi: 10.1007/s10488-023-01273-y. Epub 2023 Jun 1. PubMed
Nau CL, Braciszewski JM, Rossom RC, Penfold RB, Coleman KJ, Simon GE, Hong B, Padilla A, Butler RK, Chen A, Waters HC. Assessment of disruptive life events for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar I disorder using data from a consumer credit reporting agency. JAMA Psychiatry. 2023 Jul 1;80(7):710-717. doi: 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2023.1179. PubMed
Ramirez M, Duran MC, Penfold RB, Pabiniak CJ, Hansen KE, Ornelas IJ. STAR-Caregivers virtual training and follow-up: A cultural adaptation for Latino caregivers of people with dementia. Transl Behav Med. 2023 Sep 12;13(9):625-634. doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibad028. PubMed
Maggie Ramirez, PhD, and Robert Penfold, PhD, culturally adapt an online program.
KPWHRI researchers are contributing to better mental health care for people nationwide.
Models that are easier to explain, use could have better uptake in health care settings.
The HCSRN conference is a venue for collaborative work to improve health and health care.