Foundation-Supported Research Projects

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation has funded the following research projects, listed in alphabetical order within each year:


Glimpses into “Memento Mortis”:  Experiences and Reflections (GLIMMER) (2015)
Rachel Cameron — University of Rochester Medical Center
This project explores oncologists’, nurse practitioners’, and physician assistants’ experience and communication with patients at the end of life and how this affects and is affected by their personal views about death.

Transformative learning impact of surgical Ethics Quality of Care rounds (2015)
Karen Devon, MD MSc — University of Toronto
Two years ago, Ethics Quality of Care (QOC) rounds were instituted in the Division of General Surgery at the University of Toronto. During these 30 min sessions, residents choose a case to discuss that contains an ethical dilemma.  This study will look at how learners are developing their moral reasoning relative to these rounds and what participants perceive as important, problematic, and helpful in their learning about ethics via these rounds.

Validation of the Jefferson Scale of Empathy (JSE)
Marianna LaNoue, PhD – Thomas Jefferson University
Researchers will perform a measurement validation study of the self-rated Jefferson Scale of Empathy (the JSE) by benchmarking it against a behaviorally based measure of patient-centeredness and a simulated patient rating of medical student empathy.

Improving patient-centered surgical care by ensuring that patient values and preferences inform decisions for surgery
Sushila Murthy, MD and Elizabeth Lilley, MD MPH — Brigham & Women’s Hospital
The purpose of this study is to use qualitative input to investigate the various domains involved in high quality surgical decision-making, including both preoperative decisions of whether to have surgery and decisions about postoperative care, from the perspectives of patients undergoing high-risk surgery and their surrogates.

Clinician-Patient Relationships: Boundaries, Barriers, Breakdowns.
Gordon Schiff, MD — Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School
Researchers will survey a representative sample of physicians and other health professionals to examine their attitudes and practices related to caring acts that have been questioned as “inappropriate” or “unethical” crossing of professional-patient boundaries. This will be complimented by a series of interactive grand rounds presentations exploring these issues and an exploratory study of breakdown of physician-patient relationships leading to the termination (firing) of patients in a large academic healthcare organization.

Humanities infrastructure in medical schools: A national survey
Rebecca Volpe, PhD — Pennsylvania State College of Medicine
Researchers seek to understand the impact of humanities infrastructure at medical schools and explore which structures are most successful. A national database of medical humanities programs/centers/departments will be created on the Gold Foundation website.


Exploring the interface of evidence-based practice and compassionate care
Lindsay Baker, PhD & Stella Ng, PhD — St. Michaels Hospital and University of Toronto
This critical discourse analysis will examine how the predominant discourse of evidence-based practice enables or constrains compassionate care.

Science of Service
Maren Batalden, MD – Cambridge Health Alliance
This project provides funding for the development of a multidisciplinary fellowship to explore the concept of co-production of health through active learning, project implantation and assessment.

Linguistic strategies of primary care providers and patients in complex chronic disease care
Seuli Brill, MD – The Ohio State University
This study will analyze language used in interactions between patients and providers and engage patients and providers in evaluations of communication strategies.  Once the most effective strategies have been identified, researchers will design a future study in which one group of providers will be coached in use of the ‘effective’ strategies versus usual care.

Transforming the culture of medical education: Integrating staff chaplains into an internal medicine training program
Mukta Panda, MD — University of Tennessee Health Science Center
This project aims to demonstrate that the integration of chaplains into the internal medicine program teaches medical students and residents to be more humanistic in their practice of medicine.

The culture of residency
Linda Pololi, MD — Brandeis University
The project will conduct a quantitative assessment of the clinical learning environment and culture of professionalism from the perspective of resident physicians.

Where is the patient’s voice?  Using patient stories to understand the experiences of patients classified as being “frequent utilizers” of the emergency department within Cambridge Health Alliance
Yamini Saravan, MD — Cambridge Health Alliance
This pilot project will elicit the stories of 20 high-utilizing patients at the Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA). Stories will be written up and returned to the patient for integration into the EMR. The aim is to  have patients and CCM teams co-design interventions based on personal stories.

Integrating mindfulness into the Patient-Centered Medical Home (MINDFUL-PC)
Zev Schuman-Olivier, MD — Cambridge Health Alliance
The project will provide mindfulness training to primary care providers (PA, RN, DO, MD and behavioral health specialists) using the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction for Primary Care (MBSR-PC) and integrate MBSR-PC into Primary Care Medical Homes (PCMHs). The study will assess the impact of the MBSR-PC on providers’ experience of caring and patients’ experience of care.

Thematic analysis of medical student narratives about the role technology plays in humanism 
Arabella Simpkin, BMBCh – Harvard Medical School
This study will qualitatively analyze medical student essays from 2014 written in response to the prompt: “Using a real life experience, describe how technology played a role, either negatively or positively, in the delivery of humanistic patient care.”


Rigorous Reviews of Research on Humanistic Healthcare
To advance practice, theory, education and research in the field of humanism in healthcare, we supported 26 rigorous reviews of the literature that will produce thoughtful syntheses and discussion of evidence relating to the practice or teaching of humanistic healthcare.

Mindful practice follow-up study 
Ronald Epstein, MD — University of Rochester      

The Gold Foundation previously funded Dr. Epstein’s work to implement a Mindful Practice curriculum. With this current project, Dr. Epstein will conduct a comparative analysis on this program and similar programs that we funded.

Seeing with a better eye: Drawing as a way to foster students’ observational skills 
Salvatore Mangione, MD — Jefferson Medical College

The researchers propose that drawing increases visual literacy. They will partner with the Fleischer Art Memorial in a study that will test whether drawing the patient’s face will increase empathy, tolerance and decrease burnout in medical students. The class will span 3 months.

Internal medicine well-being evaluation and life factors affecting resident experiences (IM-WELFARE)
Graham McMahon, MD — Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard University
This study will combine a nationwide cross-sectional survey and focus groups to determine the factors that most affect residents’ well-being, humanism and satisfaction.

Online studies of empathy in patient-clinician communication 
Helen Riess, MD — Massachusetts General Hospital
The project will conduct an on-line experiment to investigate how clinicians’ nonverbal behaviors affect layperson’s judgment of clinical empathy and competence.

Medical words in dermatology: An initiative to end doctor-talk in patient visits
Nicholas Ross, MD — Jefferson Medical College
This study seeks to evaluate familiarity and understanding of medical words commonly used in patient visits. The juxtaposition of patient and provider data regarding these medical words will provide insight into the disparities in communication inherent to dermatology visits.

Medical student reflections on “The Good Doctor”: A fourteen-year comparison
Pooja Rutberg, MD – Cambridge Health Alliance
This study will qualitatively compare medical student essays from 1999 and 2013 to explore if there has been an evolution in medical students’ conception of “The Good Doctor”.


A study of cultural and organizational factors that support or create barriers to humanism
William T. Branch, Jr. MD — Emory University
The project involves the design and study of a faculty development longitudinal program focused on enhancing humanistic teaching and role modeling.

Learn more about applying for a grant.