Bioethics News

Dr. Doug Opel Selected as Greenwall Faculty Scholar

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Doug Opel, MD, MPH

Dr. Doug Opel, faculty member at the Treuman Katz Center for Pediatric Bioethics and assistant professor in the divisions of bioethics and general pediatrics, has been awarded a career development award. Funded by the Greenwall Foundation, the Faculty Scholars Program in Bioethics provides two to five scholars 50% salary support for three years. Selection is based on career achievements, the strength of their research project, their commitment to the field of bioethics and support from their home institution. Innovative and emerging topics are given priority. The program supports junior faculty research to help resolve pressing ethical issues in clinical care, biomedical research and public policy.

Opel's project, “When Parents Refuse or Delay Childhood Vaccines: Implications for Shared Decision-Making,” builds on his previous research and will explore parent-physician communication strategies that go beyond the model of shared decision making.

“In my empirical research, I found that a shared decision-making approach to the childhood vaccine discussion – an approach that invited parents to participate in the decision – was associated with significantly fewer parents accepting all the recommended vaccines by the end of a health supervision visit than if a provider simply told parents what vaccines their child would be getting. That was surprising, and made me realize that shared decision-making, for all its appeal, has limitations. There are clinical situations when shared decision-making just is not indicated. We need a better idea of what those situations are, and with this grant, I hope to accomplish that.”

– Dr. Doug Opel