Paul Cleary Named Dean of Public Health

Paul Cleary

Health care sociologist Paul Cleary has been named Dean of Public Health and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health of Yale School of Medicine, Yale President Richard C. Levin and Medical School Dean Robert J. Alpern have announced.

Cleary has served since 1993 as Professor of Medical Sociology in the Departments of Health Care Policy and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

“We are extremely fortunate to have Paul join the School of Medicine and are excited by his vision and commitment to furthering the School of Public Health and the department’s excellence in public health research, teaching and practice,” Levin and Alpern stated.

Since the 1980s, Cleary has been actively involved in research focused on persons infected with HIV.  His first study in this area was a randomized trial of an education and support program for blood donors discovered to be infected with HIV.  He has continued to investigate the ways in which infection affects people’s lives and the factors affecting the quality of medical care for infected persons.  He led a key component of the HIV Costs and Services Utilization Study, in which his team investigated the physician and clinic characteristics that predict the quality of care that patients receive.  Recently he conducted a major national evaluation of a quality improvement program in HIV clinics funded by the Ryan White Care Act. 

Cleary’s work has also focused on developing better methods of eliciting information from patients about their care and studying the determinants of variations in care quality.  He was a founding member of the Picker Institute, which promotes the idea that routinely monitoring patient experiences is a critical component of quality assessment.

Cleary is currently principal investigator of one of three Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS) study teams.  CAHPS surveys are the most widely used  in the country for assessing ambulatory care experiences and are now also available for hospitalized patients, patients with behavioral health problems, patients receiving in-center hemodialysis and nursing home residents. 

Cleary received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin.  His earliest work focused on studies of health behavior.  He did theoretical and empirical work on smoking and conducted numerous studies of how people perceive and respond to physical symptoms and of factors affecting their use of medical care.  He also studied the recognition and management of a variety of conditions such as mental illness, alcohol abuse and functional impairment in primary care settings. 

A member of the Institute of Medicine since 1994, in 1996 Cleary was selected as a distinguished fellow of the Association for Health Services Research and in 2002 received the Distinguished Investigator Award from the Academy for Health Services Research and Health Policy.  He is editorial director of the Milbank Memorial Fund and for nine years was editor of the Milbank Quarterly.  He is chair of the National Advisory Committee for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Investigator Awards in Health Policy Research Program.  He has served as associate editor of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, consulting editor of the Journal of Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry, and has been on the editorial boards of The Handbook of Social Studies in Health and Medicine and the Advanced Handbook of Methods in Evidence Based Health Care.  He is on the editorial boards of Health Services Research and the Journal of Health Services Research and Policy. In 1997 Harvard Medical School awarded him the A. Clifford Barger Award for Excellence in Mentoring. 

Levin and Alpern also expressed appreciation for the contributions of Michael Merson, M.D., the Anna M.R. Lauder Professor of Public Health, who served as dean and department chair for 10 years. Brian Leaderer, the Susan Dwight Bliss Professor of Public Health, served as acting dean for the past 13 months during the search for Merson’s successor.

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