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Kathleen Thomas

Adjunct Associate Professor Associate Professor

Kathleen C. Thomas, PhD, MPH

Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Research and Graduate Studies

Adjunct Associate Professor, Health Policy and Management

Senior Research Fellow, Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services Research

(919) 966-3387
Kerr Hall 2310, , CB# 7590, Chapel Hill, NC, 27599-7573

Kathleen C. Thomas, PhD, MPH is Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Research and Graduate Studies in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, Senior Fellow at the UNC Cecil G Sheps Center for Health Services Research and Adjunct Associate Professor in Health Policy and Management, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is a behavioral economist and mental health services researcher whose work focuses on three areas: 1) disparities in access to care, 2) health insurance policy, and 3) patient self-efficacy (confidence managing health and health care use). All three areas inform pharmaceutical outcomes and policy. Her research in disparities in access includes variation in use of psychotropic medication and polypharmacy by nonclinical factors. Her research in health insurance demonstrates how insurance plan benefit structure impacts ability to pay for medications and financial barriers to their use due to out-of-pocket costs. Her research in patient self-efficacy supports shared decision-making in treatment choices such as medication vs other options. All three areas require patient-engaged work with multidisciplinary research teams and creative data compilation to accomplish scientific breakthroughs. The combined learning in these three areas is synergistic, with the goal to improve access and quality of mental health services. You can read more about her on-going research here.

She is recipient of the John Eisenberg Excellence in Mentorship Award from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the Steven M Banks Award for Mentorship from the American Public Health Association. Dr. Thomas’ undergraduate degree in classical languages is from Pomona College. She holds an MPH from Yale University and a PhD in health economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Thomas serves as chair, panel member and ad hoc reviewer for PCORI, NIDA and HRSA study sections. She serves on the editorial board of the Health Expectations Journal as well as reviewer for a number of journals including Psychiatric Services and Pediatrics. Her work in patient-engaged research and methods has been included as high-quality evidence in systematic reviews and she has served on expert panels to guide future research in this area. Her work has been cited in the Wall Street Journal, US News, and The Guardian.