Douglas J Opel, MD, MPH

Douglas J Opel, MD, MPH

Bioethics Consultation Service, General Pediatrics

On staff since September 2005

Children's Title: Director, Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and Palliative Care

Academic Title: Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine

Research Center: Center for Clinical and Translational Research, Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and Palliative Care

"I am passionate about treating the whole patient. I try not to stop at understanding a child's illness; I also try to understand their (and their family's) emotions, aspirations, values and goals. It is gratifying to see how much this often helps the healing process."

  • Biography

    Douglas J. Opel, MD, is a professor in the Divisions of Bioethics and General Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, and at the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and Palliative Care at Seattle Childrens Hospital.

    Dr. Opel received his MD from the University of Chicago and completed his residency and chief residency in pediatrics at the University of Washington and Seattle Children's Hospital. He is a general pediatrician at Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington Medical Center. His research interests include medical decision-making, communication science and public health ethics.

    • Related Pages

    • Opel Lab

      The Opel Lab focuses on clinician-parent communication and medical decision-making, with a primary goal to improve child health by identifying effective clinician communication strategies that positively influence parent acceptance of recommended interventions for children. Specific research topics include vaccine communication and delivery, shared decision-making, and the clinician-parent relationship.

  • Patient Testimonials

  • Publications

    Manuscripts in Refereed Journals

    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      Impact of a Pertussis Epidemic on Infant Vaccination in Washington State
      Pediatrics, 2014 Aug 18 : 456-64
    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      How You Start the Conversation Matters
      Minn Med., 2014 May : 97(5)50-1
    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      A 6-Month-Old With Vaccine-Hesitant Parents
      Pediatrics, 2014 March : 133(3)526-30
    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      Rethinking Vaccine Policy Making in an Era of Vaccine Hesitancy: Time to Rebuild, Not Remodel?
      Hum Vaccin Immunother, 2013 Dec. : 9(12)2672-3
    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      The Architecture of Provider-Parent Vaccine Discussions at Health Supervision Visits
      Pediatrics, 2013 Dec. : 132(6)1037-46
    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      The Relationship Between Parent Attitudes About Childhood Vaccines Survey Scores and Future Child Immunization Status: a Validation Study
      JAMA Pediatr, 2013 Nov. : 167(11)1065-71
    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      Use of Alternative Childhood Immunization Schedules in King County, Washington, USA
      Vaccine, 2013 Oct 1 : 31(42)4699-701
    • Douglas J. Opel, MD, MPH
      Missed Opportunities for Adolescent Vaccination, 2006-2011
      J Adolesc Health, 2013 Jul 1 : 53(4)492-7
    • Opel DJ, Marcuse EK
      Window or Mirror: Social Networks' Role in Immunization Decisions
      Pediatrics, 2013 Apr 15 : 131(5)1619-20
    • Opel DJ, Taylor JA, Phillipi CA, Diekema DS
      The Intersection of Evidence and Values in Clinical guidelines: Who Decides What Constitutes Acceptable Risk in the Care of Children?
      Hospital Pediatrics, 2013 Apr 1 : 3(2)87-91
    • Opel DJ, Marcuse EK
      The Enigma of Alternative Childhood Immunization Schedules: What Are the Questions?
      JAMA Pediatrics, 2013 Jan 21 : 167(3)304-5
    • Opel DJ
      Physician, Parent, Patient: Where Exactly Is the Line?
      Hastings Center Report, 2012 Oct 15 : 42(6)14-18
    • Opel DJ, Banerjee A, King P, Paul C, Glassy D, Yasuda K
      Washington State Licensed Child Care Facility Directors' Perspectives on Childhood Immunization
      Journal of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society, 2012 Sep 19 : 2(1)40-9
    • Opel DJ, Olson ME
      Ethics for the Pediatrician: Bioethics Education and Resources
      Pediatrics in Review, 2012 Aug 1 : 33(8)370-73
    • Taylor JA, Opel DJ
      Choriophobia: A One-Act Play
      Pediatrics, 2012 Jul 9 : 130(2)342-6
    • Opel DJ, Robinson JD, Heritage J, Korfiatis C, Taylor JA, Mangione-Smith R
      Characterizing Providers Immunization Communication Behaviors during Health Supervision Visits with Vaccine-Hesitant Parents: A Pilot Study
      Vaccine, 2012 Feb 8 : 30(7)1269-75
    • Wightman A, Opel DJ, Marcuse E, Taylor J
      Washington State Pediatricians Attitudes Towards Alternative Childhood Immunization Schedules
      Pediatrics, 2011 Nov 28 : 128(6)1094-9
    • Opel DJ, Diekema DS
      Finding the proper balance between freedom and justice: why we should not eliminate personal belief exemptions to vaccine mandates
      Journal of health politics, policy and law, 2011 Oct 14 : 37(1)141-7
    • Payne DC, Humiston S, Opel DJ, Klein E, Kennedy A, Wikswo M, Downing K, Kobayashi A, Albertin C, Chesley C, Staat M
      A Multi-Center, Qualitative Assessment of Pediatrician and Parental Perspectives in Addressing the Detection of Porcine Circovirus in Rotavirus Vaccines
      BMC Pediatrics, 2011 Sep 26 : 11:83
    • Opel DJ, Taylor J, Mangione-Smith R, Solomon C, Catz S, and Martin D
      Construct Validity of a Survey to Identify Vaccine-Hesitant Parents
      Vaccine, 2011 Jul 16 : 29(38)
    • Opel DJ, Korfiatis C, Wiese C, Catz S, Mangione-Smith R, Taylor JA, and Martin
      Development of a Survey to Identify Vaccine Hesitant Parents: The Parental Attitudes about Childhood Vaccines Survey
      Human Vaccines, 2011 Apr 1 : 7(4)419-25
    • Opel DJ, Diekema DS, Marcuse EM
      Not Just a Bad Apple, but a Bad Barrel: The Biomedical Research System in the Wake of Wakefield
      BMJ, 2011 Jan 22 : 342.179-80

    Other Publications

    • Opel D
      Parental Refusals of Vaccination and School Vaccine Mandates: Balancing Parental Freedom, Child Welfare, and Public Health In Clinical Ethics in Pediatrics: A Case-based Textbook
      Cambridge University Press, 2011 Oct. : 205-10
  • Presentations

    Presentation Title Event Location Date
    Identifying, Understanding, and Talking with Vaccine-Hesitant Parents Symposium, "From package to protection: How do we close global coverage gaps to optimize the impact of vaccination?" Fondation Mrieux Conference Center, Veyrier-du-Lac, France Sep 24, 2014 - Sep 25, 2014
    Communicating with Parents about Vaccination National Foundation for Infectious Diseases Clinical Vaccinology Course Seattle, WA Mar 22, 2014
    The Parent Attitudes about Childhood Vaccine (PACV) Survey: Development, Evaluation, and Future Directions National Vaccine Advisory Committee Sep 9, 2013
    Rising to the Occasion: Strategies for Communicating with Vaccine Hesitant Parents American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition New Orleans, LA Oct 22, 2012
    Taking Talk to the Next Level: In Search of Communication Practices that Increase Parental Immunization Acceptance National Immunization Conference, Hosted by the CDC On Line Atlanta, GA Mar 27, 2012
    Findings on Alternative Immunization Schedule Practices Institute of Medicine Committee on the Safety of the Childhood Immunization Schedule Seattle, WA Mar 8, 2012
    Increasing Childhood Immunization Through Improved Provider-Parent Communication Pediatric Grand Rounds, University of Oklahoma Oklahoma City, OK Nov 11, 2011
    Blurring the Boundaries of Research and Clinical Care: A Constructive Ambiguity? 12th Annual American Society for Bioethics and Humanities Meeting Minneapolis, MN Oct 14, 2011
    Rising to the Occasion: Strategies for Communicating with Vaccine Hesitant Parents Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting Denver, CO May 3, 2011


Board Certification(s)


Medical/Professional School

University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL
University of Washington, Seattle, WA


University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA


University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA

Research Description

My research interests include provider communication strategies that improve parental acceptance of childhood vaccines and devising methods to identify and address organizational issues underlying ethical conflict.

Research Focus Area

Translational Research