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Health Behavior, Society & Policy

Faculty Profile

  • Paul  Duberstein, PhD

  • Chair & Professor

  • Department of Health Behavior, Society and Policy

  • CV

Aging; cancer; caregiving, depression; end-of-life; geriatric mental health; gerontology; health care utilization; interpersonal psychotherapy; mental health services; palliative care; patient-clinician communication; personality; primary care; socioeconomic disparities, suicide.

Dr. Duberstein received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed graduate training in clinical and community psychology at SUNY Buffalo, advanced training in clinical psychology at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School and postdoctoral research fellowship training in geriatric mental health at the University of Rochester Medical Center. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 2018, he was a Professor at the University of Rochester Medical Center, where he held appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry (primary), Family Medicine, and Medicine.

Research Interests
As a public health psychologist, Dr. Duberstein leverages advances in the psychological, behavioral, and social sciences to improve health care delivery, inform health care policy, and enhance patient health outcomes. Dr. Duberstein began his career by identifying risk factors for suicide and depression in older adults, and by examining the implications of personality and socioeconomic status for health outcomes and health care utilization in that population. More recently, he has been involved in several intervention studies that aim to improve outcomes among patients/families with advanced, life-limiting disease and marginalized populations. Relatively new interests include overtreatment, over diagnosis, medicalization, and the measurement of so-called “aggressive care” at the end of life. Dr. Duberstein enjoys providing mentorship to and learning from trainees and junior faculty. He has mentored/co-mentored 11 Level 1 "K" awardees who have received funding from NIA, NIAAA, and NIMH.

Research Highlights

Risk Factor Research:
  • Worked on a CMS-funded Demonstration Project implemented in West Virginia, Ohio, and New York State. Data from that study showed that patient personality has surprisingly robust associations with health care utilization toward the end of life
  • Worked with Rochester-based colleagues on NIMH-funded studies of risk factors for suicide in adults 50 years of age and older. Findings showed that family discord and social isolation increase suicide risk, even after accounting for well-established risk factors such as depression
  • With co-investigator Martin Pinquart, Ph.D., published a meta-analysis documenting that depression in cancer patients is associated with shorter survival
Intervention Research:
  • With co-investigator Nancy Talbot, Ph.D. and colleagues at the University of Rochester, he worked on an NIMH-funded clinical trial that showed that depressed women with histories of childhood sexual abuse experienced improved outcomes (decreased levels of traumatic stress, better social adjustment) after receiving a "talk therapy" called Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Trauma (IPT-T)
  • Worked with more than a dozen colleagues on a NCI-funded multi-site clinical trial called Values and Options in Cancer Care (VOICE). The VOICE intervention involved communication training for cancer doctors, patients, and patients'''' caregivers (family, friends). The intervention improved the quality of communication between oncologists and patients/caregivers. It even affected caregiver adjustment after the death of the patient
  • Worked with Rochester-based colleagues on an NIA-funded clinical trial of mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR). Older adults who practiced MBSR showed improved cognitive function and sustained left frontal alpha asymmetry of the EEG alpha band

Select Publications
Duberstein, P., Chen, M., Chapman, B., Hoerger, M., Saeed, F., Guancial, E., Mack, J. (2018) "Fatalism and educational disparities in beliefs about the curability of advanced cancer.", Patient education and counseling Vol. 101

Duberstein, P., Ward, E., Chaudron, L., He, H., Toth, S., Wang, W., Van Orden, K., Gamble, S., Talbot, N. (2018) "Effectiveness of interpersonal psychotherapy-trauma for depressed women with childhood abuse histories.", Journal of consulting and clinical psychology Vol. 86

Fenton, J., Duberstein, P., Kravitz, R., Xing, G., Tancredi, D., Fiscella, K., Mohile, S., Epstein, R. (2018) "Impact of Prognostic Discussions on the Patient-Physician Relationship: Prospective Cohort Study.", Journal of clinical oncology : official journal of the American Society of Clinical Oncology Vol. 36

Epstein, R. M., Duberstein, P. R., Fenton, J. J., Fiscella, K., Hoerger, M., Tancredi, D. J., Xing, G., Gramling, R., Mohile, S., Franks, P., Kaesberg, P., Plumb, S., Cipri, C. S., Street, R. L., Shields, C. G., Back, A. L., Butow, P. N., Walczak, A., Tattersall, M., Venuti, A., Sullivan, P., Robinson, M., Hoh, B., Lewis, L., Kravitz , R. L. (2017) "Randomized Trial of a Patient-Centered Communication Intervention in Advanced Cancer: The Values and Options in Cancer Care (VOICE) Study", JAMA Oncology Vol. 3

Duberstein, P. R. (2016) "Listen to your patients", Journal of Clinical Oncology Vol. 0

Award of Special Recognition - The Outreach Community Center (Rochester, NY) (2006) - In appreciation of contributions to the Mental Health Class for African American Pastors and Ministers in the Rochester community

Junior Faculty Mentoring Award - University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry (2005) - To celebrate the importance of faculty serving as mentors for more junior colleagues, the Dean presents awards for mentoring at the SMD Convocation annually.

Theodore Millon Award - American Psychological Foundation (2005) - Mid-Career Contributions to Personality Science

Edwin Shneidman Award - American Association of Suicidology (2000) - Early Career Contributions to Suicidology

Social Media & Websites