Health Services Research & Development

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Nancy R. Kressin, PhD – Research Career Scientist

Nancy R. Kressin, PhD Nancy R. Kressin, PhD
VA Medical Center, Jamaica Plain Campus
Boston, MA 


Nancy Kressin, PhD, is a social scientist, health services researcher, and Senior Research Career Scientist based at the Center for Healthcare Organization and Implementation Research (CHOIR) and the VA Boston Healthcare System. Dr. Kressin was initially designated as a research career scientist in 2001; this appointment was renewed in 2007 and in 2011 she won a third renewal with promotion to Senior Research Career Scientist. She also holds an appointment as Professor of Medicine, and served as Director of the Health/Care Disparities Research Program in the Division of General Internal Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine from 2008-2017.

Dr. Kressin trained in cross-cultural psychology and the social sciences, and has long been interested in the effects of race and culture on both patients and providers in the medical encounter and in health outcomes. Her research has examined possible underlying mechanisms for racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care by studying patient and provider perspectives on treatment decision-making and on patients' adoption of recommended therapies, including surgical and dental procedures, and prescribed medication. She and her colleagues have examined the effects of Massachusetts health reform on use of care, and disparities in use of care, and the effects of Medicaid expansion and sociodemographic characteristics on Veterans' demand for care.

Dr. Kressin has led numerous VA-and NIH-funded studies which contribute to our understanding of why there are racial disparities in provided health care and health outcomes, and whether proposed interventions will help address these. Such VA-specific studies include "Improving Hypertension Control: A Physician and Patient Intervention"; and "Racial Variations in Cardiac Procedures: Do Health Beliefs Matter?", "Improving Dental Decision Making for Root Canal Therapy "(all with funding from VA's Health Services Research and Development Service). More recently, Dr. Kressin and colleagues' work has focused on broader health insurance policy initiatives and their potential effects on disparities; with HSR&D funding for "External Determinants of Non-Elderly Veterans' Demand of VA Health Care", she and colleagues learned that Medicaid expansion reduces Veterans' demand for VA care and conversely, that lack of such expansion increased demand for VA care.

Dr. Kressin is the author or co-author of over one hundred and twenty scientific articles and book chapters, and numerous presentations at scientific meetings. She regularly serves as a reviewer for national funding agencies including the National Institutes of Health, and VA, where she served on the HSR&D Career Development Award review committee for many years. She also serves as a peer reviewer for scientific publications submitted to prominent scientific journals, including the Journal of the American Medical Association, Annals of Internal Medicine, Medical Care, Circulation, Social Science in Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, Journal of the American College of Cardiology and many others.

Dr. Kressin received a Bachelor of Science in Public Health in Health Administration from the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina. She completed her master's and doctoral degrees in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University.

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