Mary Politi, PhD

Mary PolitiAssociate Professor
Division of Public Health Sciences
Department of Surgery
(314) 747-1967
Politi Lab website

Research Overview
Dr. Politi is a clinical psychologist and an associate professor in the Division of Public Health Sciences, Department of Surgery, at Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Politi’s research program focuses on using systematic methods to help patients and clinicians work through the uncertainties of health decisions through developing and evaluating decision tools, examining techniques to aid clinical discussions about health decisions, and exploring ways to improve communication about risks. Her research also investigates the influence of numeracy and health literacy on medical decision-making.

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. She also co-teaches a class with Dr. Anke Winter in the Master of Population Health Sciences program on Comparative Effectiveness Research.

Research Staff
Carey Kebodeaux, Senior Public Health Research Technician
Hannah Perkins, MSc, Public Health Research Technician
Marie Kuzemchak, Student Research Assistant
Norah Rast, Student Research Assistant
Sydney Philpott, Public Health Research Coordinator I


Active Projects:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (Politi: PI)


7/10/15 – 4/30/18

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 CER/PCOR website.

National Institute for Minority Health and Health Disparities  (Politi: PI)
1 R01 MD008808-01                                                                        
9/25/14 – 9/24/17                                        

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.

Merck Health Literacy/Diversity/Adherence MISP Submission (Politi: PI)                                  
1/1/14 – 12/31/15
A Mixed Methods Study to Reduce Disparities in Cancer Clinical Trials by Adapting a Health Literacy Intervention for Informed Consent and Comparing it to Usual Care in a Randomized Experiment: The goal of this project is to address disparities in cancer clinical trials through implementing an evidence-based decision aid that prepares patients for cancer clinical trials participation. We will test the effects of this tool compared to a usual care website about cancer clinical trials examining key patient-centered outcomes.

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI; Woolf: PI)              
Understanding Patient Preferences for Informed Decision-Making: This project will engage stakeholders to devise a technological solution that will both assess and facilitate patients’ preferred decision-making styles. The involvement of primary care practices in this project will allow for a novel evaluation of how this approach affects the patient’s experience in the clinical encounter.
Role: Expert Advisor and Consultant