By Ellen Engelhardt, PhD, Editor-In-Chief

Time flies, it’s already more than a month ago that many of us gathered in Philadelphia for an inspiring and fun SMDM annual meeting. It was great to meet new people, meet people I had only spoken to online in real life. It was wonderful to see so many young investigators get the opportunity to give an oral presentation or present a poster and have great discussions with (more experienced) colleagues. For me the symposium organized by SMDM’s Patient Advocates Council was a highlight and hopefully the start of a new tradition.


Alongside Meeting News, upcoming Webinars and Job Postings, in this edition of the newsletter:


  • SMDM’s new President, Alan Schwartz, introduces himself and the new Executive Committee.
  • Victoria Shaffer, SMDM’s President-Elect, talks in her column about all the opportunities to get involved in SMDM leadership that are opening up. On the Newsletter editorial team, we are looking for a new Deputy editor and Editor to replace Aisha and myself. If you are interested and want to know more about these roles, don’t hesitate to get in touch!
  • Frank Gavin, a member of SMDM’s Patient Advisory Council, looks back on the Annual meeting in Philadelphia and invites you to reflects on the meaning of “patient engagement”.
  • Aisha Langford, Newsletter Deputy Editor, invites you to join a conversation on “When is a decision support tool complete?” in her Hot Topic column.
  • I report back on the results of last edition’s MDM poll on why people did or didn’t attend the SMDM Annual meeting.
  • Janet Panoch, co-chair of the Shared Decision Making Special Interest Group, highlights the activities they have organized and invites you to join.
  • Brian Zikmund-Fisher looks back on successful "Meet the Editors 1:1" sessions at the Philadelphia meeting. Take a look at his column for the dates of upcoming online Abstracts Hours. 

Source: denhaag.com

To end, in my corner of the world, winter has truly arrived, to the great delight of the many ice-skating enthusiasts around me. I on the other hand, am counting the days till spring and dreaming of a vacation somewhere warm. Wherever you will be spending the end of this year, I hope you are able to take some time to recharge and that you can look forward to a new year full of possibilities.


Whatever is beautiful. Whatever is meaningful. Whatever brings you joy. May it be yours this holiday season and throughout the coming year.


With this Poll we would like to get insight into any topics you would be interested in as a virtual course - whether to take or to teach. Our goal is to learn how SMDM can schedule education programming in 2024 that is of interest to you.

Complete survey


By Alan Schwartz, PhD, President

I’m thrilled to serve as your President for this year. I’m especially grateful to have Beate Sander, my outstanding predecessor, continuing as Past President, and Victoria Shaffer, the President-Elect, as the “presidential team”. We are joined on the executive committee by Ankur Pandya (Vice President), Ellen Lipstein (VP-elect), Scott LaJoie (Secretary/Treasurer), and Scott Cantor (Historian), along with the indefatigable Diane Nickolson (Executive Director). I’d also like to welcome our new Trustees, Rowan Iskander, Kathryn Martinez, and Daniel Matlock, who join Emily Berger, Ellen Engelhardt, Natalia Kunst, Aisha Langford, Laura Scherer, Channing Tate and Brian Zikmund-Fisher on the SMDM Board.

If you were at the Philadelphia annual meeting, you likely got a chance to interact with the terrific representatives from ADG, our new management company, including Elyssa Ciresi, Matthias Besse, and Karina House. Kathy Van De Loo wasn’t able to make it, but rounds out the powerhouse team.

SMDM’s current strategic plan runs through 2024, so this will be a year for strategic planning for 2025-2027. I hope you’ll take a few moments from your busy schedules to think about what you value in the Society and what you think its priorities should be over the next few years. Even better is to write them down, and email them to [email protected], where we will collect them as part of establishing a planning process.

Some of my own most important priorities are:

  • To return to a sustainable revenue-neutral or revenue-positive budget, ideally through growth in membership and attendance (without increasing fees) and careful management of costs;
  • To expand opportunities for members to develop our science and their careers through dissemination, networking, and application; and
  • To continue to pursue strategies to increase the diversity, inclusiveness, and equity in our Society activities and in our science

Society leaders and members are already at work on a number of initiatives that will contribute to each of these areas. Our meeting initiatives, including changes in venue and timing, will advance all three priorities. Similarly, the outstanding outreach and development work of Editor-in-Chief Brian Zikmund-Fisher and the journal Deputy and Associate Editors also supports all three. I look forward to several exciting announcements of new opportunities and programs in the upcoming year, and an outstanding Boston annual meeting (October 27-30, 2024!).

Thank you all for you continued support of the Society!

See our 2023 volunteers


What positions are open and how are people selected?

By Victoria Shaffer, PhD, President-Elect

SMDM relies heavily on member volunteers to keep the society running, from officers to committee chairs and social media reporters. Each year, we aim to get new members involved in SMDM leadership, and this newsletter article is a call to nominate yourself or others for specific openings in SMDM committees in 2024 (e.g., Newsletter Editors, Digital Communications Committee, DART, and the Annual Meeting Evaluation Task Force). In addition to making the membership aware of these opportunities to volunteer, I also want to describe how appointments are made within SMDM to increase transparency about the process.

To find out which opportunities are available and read more, click here.


By Alan Schwartz, PhD, President

As many of you know, I’ll be completing a law degree during this presidential term (and I’ll have more to say about that in my presidential address in October). In each of my newsletter columns this year, I’m going to try to feature a (U.S. – that’s the law I know) legal case surrounding medical decision making that I hope will illustrate how (and often how little) our science influences the legal environment.

Today’s is Helling v. Carey, a seminal Supreme Court of Washington state decision from 1974 that’s often mentioned in first-year law classes in torts. Morrison Helling, 32, sued the ophthalmologists she had been seeing for ten years for malpractice when she lost much of her vision to glaucoma. Everyone agreed that the standard of the profession was not to perform a glaucoma pressure test in someone under 40 years old because glaucoma is so rare in a younger person. In the words of the Washington Supreme Court:

The incidence of glaucoma in one out of 25,000 persons under the age of 40 may appear quite minimal. However, that one person, the plaintiff in this instance, is entitled to the same protection, as afforded persons over 40, essential for timely detection of the evidence of glaucoma where it can be arrested to avoid the grave and devastating result of this disease. The test is a simple pressure test, relatively inexpensive. There is no judgment factor involved, and there is no doubt that by giving the test the evidence of glaucoma can be detected. The giving of the test is harmless if the physical condition of the eye permits. 

The Court then held that the test was so imperative as to be required as a matter of law, and the doctors were liable for not performing it.

Last I looked, a glaucoma pressure test has a 2-3% false positive rate (so testing 25,000 younger people will produce 1 false positive and 500-750 true positive tests). Would the Court have done better to conduct a decision analysis? Would a Bayesian argument by the doctors for their standard of care been persuasive?

I’m happy to summarize responses sent to [email protected] in the next column!


When is a decision support tool complete?

By: Aisha Langford, PhD, Deputy Editor

Patient facing decision support tools can serve many purposes. They can provide patient education about health topics, promote shared decision making between patients and their health care team, and prompt patients to think about what matters most to them when making a medical decision. While decision support can be provided in various ways to patients (e.g., videos, decision coaches, question prompt lists), patient decision aids are one of the most commonly used decision support tools. Yet, despite well-established recommendations for developing patient decision aids, ongoing questions remain with regard to what constitutes “the right amount” of information to include. That is, what is the minimal amount of information needed to help a patient make a decision without overwhelming them with related details that may also inform the decision?

Developers of decision aids often strive to be comprehensive and concise, which can be difficult to achieve. There is often also a tension between meeting the concerns of patients and meeting the concerns of clinicians when it comes to the actual content of decision aids. These challenges were elucidated during a session at the 2023 SMDM annual meeting in Philadelphia entitled, “Decision Aid Barriers to Implementation: A Fireside Chat with Experts.” Important points that came up included: (1) how, if at all, do you culturally tailor decision aids, (2) how to integrate both clinician and patient viewpoints into the design, and (3) acknowledging that one tool will never be able to meet the needs of all patients.

Ideally, the tools we create will be integrated into clinical practice and also utilized by the general public. While we are making progress, we still have a way to go. Here are some questions for you:

1.    How do you determine when a decision support tool is done?

2.    How much feedback do you solicit from patients and clinicians?

3.    Given that there will always be differing opinions about a tool, how do you determine which concerns to prioritize?

Go to our Idea Board and share your thoughts. In the next edition we will report back. Thank for the helpful feedback. (If the Idea Board is not your style, you can email your thoughts to [email protected] with the subject line: "Hot Topic Feedback")

Answer on our Idea Board


By Frank Gavin

As one of four members of SMDM’s Patient Advisory Council, I recently attended my first SMDM meeting in Philadelphia. We were particularly grateful to be able to prepare and present a session on the various roles patients are now playing in health research. Over forty people attended the session, and nearly all stayed till the end of the 90 minutes (and appeared not to be looking often at their phones) even though our session was in the very last time slot.

I’ve been to many conferences, but I don’t think I’ve been to one where attendees paid as much attention to the posters presented mostly, it seemed, by people early in their careers. I noted that the texts of many of the posters referred to how patients were engaged in the projects described and how valuable this engagement was.

After some reflection, I’d like to suggest to all those who refer readily to “patient engagement” to consider what the term implies or what picture it calls to mind or reinforces. When you write, hear or read it, whom do you picture initiating the engagement? Who’s defining its purpose and its parameters? And who’s determining its success and deciding whether to do it again? I’d be more than surprised if the answer is to any of these questions is, except in rare cases, anyone other than researchers or clinicians.

What’s a better term? In the U.K., “patient and public involvement” has long been favoured. To me it suggests something deeper and at least a little more bi-directional. And including “the public” opens some doors and helps enable attention to and insights into public policy and societal values while implicitly raising the question of whether, at least in some instances, we should be thinking about “publics” rather than “the public.”

Here in Canada “patient partnership” has been seen by many as preferable to “patient engagement” mainly because it isn’t associated with institution’s public relations activities. That could change, however.

Does the terminology really matter? If language shapes thinking, then of course it does. Is it the most important thing to think about? Probably not, but it is intimately connected to what is most important.

Frank Gavin



Why are you (not) attending

SMDM meetings?

By Ellen Engelhardt, PhD, Editor-In-Chief

In the last poll, we asked you to tell us about your reasons for (not) attending SMDM meetings. 76 of you took the time to respond, thank you! Three-quarters of respondents are based in the US and most work in the SMDM subfields of Decision Psychology and Shared Decision Making (36%), Health Services, Outcomes, and Policy Research (24%), and Applied Health Economics (19%).

Of the 76 respondents, 61% indicated that they attended the SMDM meeting in Philadelphia. The most frequently cited reasons for attending the meeting were: learning about new research in my field of interest (84%), networking (81%), meeting (new) colleagues (57%), presenting my own work (52%) and mentorship opportunity (32%). Of the 30 respondents who indicated that they did not attend the meeting, the most frequently cited reasons for not attending were: due to high travel costs (50%), scheduling conflict (32%), the registration fee being too high (29%), and not having work to present (29%).

We also asked you to give us suggestions to make attending future SMDM meetings more appealing/feasible. In total, 50 respondents provided suggestions. Most suggestions (28%) related to costs. Respondents indicated that the registration fee and travel costs were very high – also compared to other conferences they attend. This was also a reason some had reservations about the new meeting schedule (2 North American followed by a European meeting) and preferred more meetings outside North America. Costs seem to be a key barrier and not only for those from LMIC – respondents were mainly based in North America and Europe. To stimulate attendance by colleagues outside North America, respondents suggested providing travel grants or a reduction in registration fees. Another recurring suggestion to stimulate participation of those who are unable to attend for financial or other reasons (e.g., environmental considerations), is to have hybrid meetings. Further, reduced costs to attend social events for trainees was mentioned, for example, the costs for attending the dinner with experts. These dinners were deemed to be a very nice new mentorship opportunity, but at the Philadelphia meeting some of the restaurants were expensive which could be a barrier as attendees are mainly students/junior faculty. Another recurring topic alongside costs, were the poster sessions. The poster sessions were highlighted as a great opportunity for experienced researchers to mentor young researchers. However, to do so effectively the time currently allotted for the poster sessions is not enough. Respondents indicated that they would like either more poster sessions or for the sessions to have fewer posters.

Thank you again to all who took the time to complete the poll. By sharing your views, you are making a valuable contribution towards making SMDM better. Please take the time to participate in the new poll on your wishes regarding educational activities provided by SMDM. 

Answer Education Poll


By Brian Zikmund-Fisher, PhD

Notes from MDM Journals Editors: More Editors and Abstracts Hours!

Both Deputy Editor Lauren Cipriano and I are very pleased to report that the "Meet the Editors 1:1" sessions were well attended at the Philadelphia meeting in October. We enjoyed meeting so many of you, discussing paper ideas, brainstorming how to transform papers to better fit our journals, and just getting to hear about interesting research. We also saw lots of exciting content in the oral and poster sessions, and we hope that we will be seeing manuscripts from presenters soon!

We do want to remind everyone that we are still doing the Zoom-based "Editors and Abstracts Hours" once a month. While we encourage authors to bring an abstract that Lauren and I can quickly review and give feedback on, these sessions are mostly to give prospective authors a chance to touch base with us and get questions answered. Dates and link information will always be available here. Forthcoming dates include:

  • Friday, December 8, 2023
  • Thursday, January 11, 2024
  • Thursday, February 15, 2024
  • Thursday, March 14, 2024
  • Thursday, April 11, 2024

Please consider emailing us at [email protected] to let us know that you're planning to join a session. Also, please note that we've sometimes had problems where links expire without us realizing, so if you try to join a session and get an expired link notice, please email us and we'll get a new link posted quickly.


By Janet Panoch, PhD

The Shared Decision Making Special Interest Group, co-chaired by Semra Ozdemir and Janet Panoch, met on the third Thursday in 2023 with breaks for spring, summer, and winter holidays. Aside from general meetings and an in-person social at SMDM, we highlighted these presentations and Fireside Chats at our meetings:

  • Margaret Byrne, Moffitt Cancer Center, Life Journey and Lessons Learned
  • Christine Gunn, Dartmouth, Using Health Literacy Principles to Design a Breast Cancer Screening Decision Aid
  • Fireside Chat with SDM Experts: Angela Fagerlin (University of Utah), Dawn Stacey (University of Ottawa), Hillary Bekker (University of Leeds), and Karen Sepucha (Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University), Challenges to the Implementation of Decision Aids
  • Juan Marcos Gonzalez, Duke University, Adapting choice experiments to identify patient-preference phenotypes for clinical decision making – A quantitative values clarification approach
  • KD Valentine, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University, 17 Years of Patient-Reported Shared Decision Making (SDM): Applying the SDM Process Scale to Your Research
  • Deborah Marshall (University of Calgary), Ilene Hollin (Temple University), Janine van Til (University of Twente), and Shelby Reed (Duke University), How stated-preference methods can contribute to values clarification in clinical decision making?
  • Chetna Malhotra, Duke-NUS Medical School (Singapore), Making decisions about end-of-life care: Rethinking the role of Advance Care Planning

Future meetings will take place quarterly in February, May, September, and November.

Anyone is welcome to join the Special Interest Group. We are seeking speakers for short presentations at the upcoming meetings. Contact SMDM at [email protected] to be added for email updates.


Save the Dates for 2024 and 2025!


Cohort Modeling in R

- 13 December 2023

Eline Krijkamp, PhD

Erasmus School of Health Policy and Management

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Petros Pechlivanoglou, PhD

Hospital for Sick Children, Research Institute

Senior Scientist

University of Toronto, Institute of Health Policy

Associate Professor

Register for Cohort Modeling in R by Friday, 8 December


Our 2023 SMDM Career Achievement Awardee Lisa Prosser, PhD as the Principal Investigator presented on behalf of the University of Michigan, Wake Forest University, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study team an Economic Analysis of Vaccination with mRNA Booster Dose against COVID 19 Among Adults on September 12, 2023 to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) as part of their deliberation process for evaluating and ultimately approving the new COVID 19 vaccine. In their base-case, Dr Prosser’s preliminary analysis found the vaccine to have an ICER per quality life year gained of $115,588 for 18-49 year olds, $25,787 for 50-64 year olds and to be cost-saving for those 65 and older from a societal perspective over a 1 year time horizon. 

By Eva Enns, PhD at University of Minnesota School of Public Health

We have recently been funded by CDC Center for Forecasting and Outbreak Analytics to establish the Midwestern Disease Modeling and Analytics Preparedness Center (MDAP), a collaboration between the University of Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Health, and the Minnesota Electronic Health Records Consortium, a consortium of the largest health systems in Minnesota. Over the next 5 years, MDAP will work with public health and health system partners to establish and pilot test mathematical modeling and data analytic tools to support decision-making during a pandemic or other infectious disease emergency. MDAP brings together academic experts in decision analysis, infectious disease modeling, data analytics, health informatics, machine learning, and geospatial analysis to work with state public health and health system leaders. We look forward to engaging with the SMDM community on this important work!

Submit Member News for Issue 1 of 2024


See the list on our website.


SMDM Career Achievement Award

Dawn Stacey, RN, PhD, FCAHS, FAAN, FCAN, CON(C) 

SMDM Distinguished Service Award

Lisa A. Prosser, PhD, MS

John M. Eisenberg Award for Practical Application

Steven D. Pearson, MD, MSc

The SMDM Sandy Schwartz Young Scholar Award

Hadley Stevens Smith, PhD, MPSA

SMDM Outstanding Paper by a Young Investigator

Anna Heath, MMath, PhD

Prioritizing Research in an Era of Personalized Medicine: The Potential Value of Unexplained Heterogeneity

Lee B. Lusted Student Prize Competition:

Milt Weinstein Award For Outstanding Presentation In Applied Health Economics

Yansi Wu, University of Oslo

“Cost effectiveness of lung cancer screening program in Norway based on NELSON trial outcomes”

Karen Smith, Harvard University

“Impact of real-world measurement error on the cost-effectiveness of intensive systolic blood pressure targets”

Margaret Holmes-Rovner Award for Outstanding Presentation in Decision Psychology and Shared Decision Making

Hoda Fakhari, Northwestern University

“Management of conflicting clinical guidelines in practice: A qualitative study of primary care physicians”

Laura Brotzman, University of Michigan

“Older adult acceptance of the use of life expectancy information in medical decisions”

Bruce Schackman Award for Outstanding Presentation in Health Services, Outcomes, and Policy Research

Yiwen Cao, University of Southern California

“Accounting for patient frailty in medical decision making: a microsimulation of vascular access outcomes in hemodialysis”

Alexandra Moskalewicz, SickKids Hospital

“Projecting the future prevalence of childhood cancer in Ontario, Canada microsimulation modeling”

Anne Stiggelbout Award for Outstanding Presentation in Patient and Stakeholder Preferences and Engagement

Eric Raynal, Cincinnati Children's Hospital

“Factors that influence parental decision making during periviable consultation”

Ellen Kim DeLuca, University of Michigan

“Challenges in valuing child health using time trade-off: unwillingness to trade children’s length of life”

Stephen Pauker Award for Outstanding Presentation in Quantitative Methods and Theoretical Developments

Zixuan Feng, Pennsylvania State University

“A Bayesian hierarchical model for estimating county-level opioid use disorder prevalence using publicly available data”

Marissa Reitsma, Stanford University

“Common random numbers of stochastic network-based transmission dynamic models”


Here are the most recent job opportunities since our last newsletter.

SMDM members can stay current on the newest opportunities in the Resources Section of SMDM Connect.

OrACORe Decision Scientist

Kohn Professor of Social Policy

Post-Doctoral Positions in Cancer Population Science - GLCCC

Faculty Positions in Health Economics and Policy - Peter O'Donnell Jr. School of Public Health

Assistant Professor, Associate Professor or Professor in Health Policy/Health Services Research - Stanford University

Twitter  Linkedin  
Netherlands Cancer Institute

Deputy Editor

Aisha Langford, PhD

Wayne State University School of Medicine