Mary Politi, PhD

Mary PolitiAssociate Professor
Division of Public Health Sciences
Department of Surgery
mpoliti@wustl.edu
(314) 747-1967
Politi Lab website
Patient Centered Outcomes Research Center website

Research Overview
Dr. Politi is a health psychologist and associate professor of surgery in the Division of Public Health Sciences at Washington University School of Medicine. Her primary research interests include health communication and shared decision-making. Her work helps patients and the public understand health information, explore what is important to them when making health decisions, and collaborate to make evidence-informed decisions that meet their needs. She also trains health care professionals, public health advocates, and members of the public interested in shared decision-making and patient engagement. Dr. Politi’s research includes a focus on reducing health disparities by engaging communities with unmet health needs and including them in both research and dissemination efforts. She works extensively with stakeholders to ensure her research is relevant to end users in clinical and community settings.

Dr. Politi teaches a course in the Master of Population Health Sciences program entitled Principles of Shared Decision Making and Health Literacy in the Clinical Setting

Research Staff
Nerissa George, Public Health Research Coordinator I
Nageen Mir, MPH, Senior Public Research Coordinator
Denise Monti, Student Research Assistant
Norah Rast, Student Research Assistant
Sydney Philpott, Public Health Research Coordinator I


Grants/Active Projects:

Optimizing Decision-Making about Breast Reconstruction after Mastectomy: A Patient-Centered Approach
Dr. Politi along with Terence Myckatyn, MD, professor of surgery, received a 2-year, $400,000 Multi-PI Pre-R01 grant through the Siteman Investment Program. Drs. Politi and Myckatyn hope to develop a clinical decision support tool that will enable physicians and patients to make high-quality breast reconstruction decisions consistent with clinical evidence and patient preferences. They plan to incorporate evidence about the risks and benefits of reconstruction, including personalized risk prediction, to estimate individual risk of complications, in addition to patient education and values clarification in this tool.

A Conference Grant to Implement Comparative Effectiveness Research Into Policy 
The goal of this grant is to host a series of conferences dedicated to promoting and building CER infrastructure, disseminating CER results, identifying opportunities for implementation and incorporation of CER findings into health policy, and CER career development. Visit the PCOR website.
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Politi: PI)
1R13HS023446-01
7/10/15 – 4/30/18 

Supporting Decisions about Health Insurance to Improve Care for the Uninsured
The goal of this project is to compare previously developed decision support strategies about health insurance options to usual care health insurance materials. We will evaluate these strategies’ impact on understanding and ability to compare health insurance plan information. We aim to improve currently uninsured individuals’ decision making about health insurance as they prepare to enroll in the Affordable Care Act health insurance exchanges.
National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities  (Politi: PI)
1 R01 MD008808-01                                                                        
9/25/14 – 9/24/17

Comparative Effectiveness of Encounter Decision Aids for Early-Stage Breast Cancer across Socioeconomic Strata
Dr. Politi received a subcontract award on a PCORI contract through Dartmouth College and will be working with the primary investigator, Marie-Anne Durand, PhD, and co-investigator, Julie Margenthaler, MD, to examine how to support women of lower socioeconomic status with early-stage breast cancer through their treatment decisions. The research team will provide point-of-care decision aids for these women to help increase their knowledge, decision confidence, and quality of life after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Supporting Decisions About Cancer Clinical Trials in Rural Cancer Centers
This is a pilot project partnering with Southern Illinois University School of Medicine (SIUSM) through the P20 2016 Collaborative Cancer Disparities Research Program addressing rural cancer disparities. Dr. Politi is the principal investigator with Swati Pathak, MD, an oncologist at SIUSM. Their project will expand on previous knowledge of shared decision-making tools developed to support decisions about clinical trial participation, bringing an evidence-based research tool to rural communities. The project will address the unique barriers of rural cancer residents and utilize their feedback to help support rural cancer patients participation in clinical trials.

Supporting Decisions about Health Insurance to Improve Care for the Uninsured
The goal of this project is to compare previously developed decision support strategies about health insurance options to usual care health insurance materials. We will evaluate these strategies’ impact on individuals’ understanding and ability to compare health insurance plan information. We aim to improve currently uninsured individuals’ decision making about health insurance as they prepare to enroll in the Affordable Care Act marketplace plans. 

Facilitating Shared Decision Making About Lung Cancer Screening

  • Shared decision making and patient decision aids can help people understand the evidence about lung cancer screening and decide whether yearly lung cancer screening is right for them. We have developed a tool to facilitate patients’ choices about yearly lung cancer screening.  
  • Learn more about lung cancer screening through this decision tool.