• Scott Halpern

Scott D. Halpern, MD, PhD, MBE

  • Associate Professor of Medicine, Epidemiology, and Medical Ethics & Health Policy; Director, Fostering Improvement in End-of-Life Decision Science (FIELDS) Program; Deputy Director, Center for Health Incentives & Behavioral Economics (CHIBE)
  • Email: shalpern@upenn.edu


Dr. Halpern’s research combines empirical approaches from the fields of epidemiology, health services research, and the decision-making sciences with conceptual work grounded in moral philosophy. He applies these approaches across three fields.

First, he examines the allocation of scarce healthcare resources including ICU beds and services and solid-organ transplants. In this regard, he seeks to understand how tradeoffs are made when the interests of individuals conflict with the interests of groups, and how these tradeoffs could be made more efficiently, equitably, and transparently. Second, he examines the use of behavioral economic approaches, including framing effects, default options, and financial incentives, to improve patients’ and providers’ decisions, particularly those related to end-of-life care. Third, he seeks to improve the ethics and efficiency of randomized clinical trials (RCTs) by examining the intended and unintended consequences of incentives for research participation, and by developing new patient-centered outcome measures and methods for analyzing them.

Dr. Halpern’s research is supported by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Aging, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, American Thoracic Society, and by a Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholar Award in Bioethics. He is the Founding Director of the Fostering Improvement in End-of-Life Decision Science (FIELDS) program, and Deputy Director of the Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE), both housed within the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics at Penn.

Selected Publications

Halpern SD:

2012. "Shaping end-of-life care: Behavioral economics and advance directives." Seminars in Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 33:393-400.

Young MJ, Brown SES, Truog RD, Halpern SD:

2012. "Rationing in the ICU: To disclose or disguise?" Critical Care Medicine, 40: 261-266.

Swindell JS, McGuire AL, Halpern SD:

2011. "Shaping patients’ decisions." Chest, 139: 424-429.

Rey MM, Ware LB, Matthay MA, Bernard G, McGuire AL, Caplan AL, Halpern SD:

2011. "Informed Consent in Research to Improve the Number and Quality of Deceased-Donor Organs." Critical Care Medicine, 39: 280-3.

Halpern SD, Raz A, Kohn R, Rey M, Asch DA, Reese PP:

2010. "Regulated payments for living kidney donation: An empirical assessment of the ethical concerns." Annals of Internal Medicine, 152: 358-65.

Halpern SD, Shaked A, Hasz RD, Caplan AL:

2008. "Informing candidates for solid-organ transplantation about donor risk factors." New England Journal of Medicine, 358:2832-2837.

Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Asch DA:

2007. "Harnessing the power of default options to improve healthcare." New England Journal of Medicine, 357:1340-44.

Halpern SD, Hansen-Flaschen J:

2006. "Terminal withdrawal of life-sustaining supplemental oxygen." JAMA, 296:1397-1400.

Halpern SD:

2005. "Towards evidence based bioethics." BMJ, 331:901-3.

Halpern SD, Karlawish JHT, Casarett D, Berlin JA, Asch DA:

2004. "Empirical assessment of whether moderate payments are undue or unjust inducements for participation in clinical trials." Archives of Internal Medicine, 164:801-3.

Halpern SD, Karlawish JHT, Berlin JA:

2002. "The continuing unethical conduct of underpowered clinical trials." JAMA, 288:358-62.


University of Pennsylvania, MD

University of Pennsylvania, PhD, Epidemiology

University of Pennsylvania, MBE

Duke University, BS, Psychology and Economics

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