In Memoriam: Jessie Gruman

Jessie Gruman, president and founder of the Center for Advancing Health, died at home on Monday, July 14, 2014 after a long illness.

The Center has lost a brilliant colleague. Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Jessie have lost a dear friend. Jessie was a tireless advocate for patients. For the past ten years, Jessie focused her efforts and the efforts of CFAH on advancing patient engagement as well as helping people find and benefit from good health care. We will deeply miss her powerful and inspiring voice for patients, families and caregivers.

No words can adequately express our sadness at Jessie's death or our gratitude for the opportunity to know and work with her.

M. Chris Gibbons, MD, MPH
Chair, Board of Trustees
Center for Advancing Health

Jessie's family has asked that contributions be made to:

Information regarding a memorial service will be posted when it becomes available.

Comments in response to this announcement are viewable here.

Jessie Gruman

CFAH President

Jessie Gruman was founder and president of the Center for Advancing Health, a nonpartisan, Washington-based research institute, from 1992 until her death in 2014. As president Gruman drew on her own experience of treatment for five cancer diagnoses, interviews with patients and caregivers, surveys and peer-reviewed research to describe and advocate for policies and practices to overcome the challenges people face in finding good care and getting the most from it.

More information


What does it take for all Americans to find good health care and make the most of it?

Patient Engagement: Here to Stay
July 1, 2014
What is patient engagement and what does it take to accomplish? With the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, CFAH set out to explore this concept as it was viewed by various diverse stakeholders. Our interviews with 35 key health care stakeholders lead to an impressive unity of opinion...

All You Do Is Complain About Health Care
June 25, 2014
"All your Prepared Patient essays do is complain about your health care and your doctors. That's why I don't read them." Yowzah! Do I really complain? Not to be defensive, but I don't think so. Every week I work to vividly describe insights that might shine a little light on this project that patients, caregivers, clinicians and policymakers – well, the list goes on – share of trying to make health care more effective and fair...

Don't Let the Sun Shine Down on Me (It's Too Complicated!)
June 18, 2014
I'm impressed by how much we struggle with seemingly simple health decisions when faced with sorting through too much information. Every week we view diverse arrays of products with health, convenience and cosmetic claims competing for our attention. Think yogurt, Gatorade, running shoes, breakfast cereal...Given the ubiquity of such products and the swirl of marketing and science- or non-science-based information surrounding each, I'm wondering three things...

Don't Forget the Hefty Price We Pay to Engage in Health
June 12, 2014
Media-fueled flip-flops and research breakthroughs on lifestyle and health behaviors are wearing down my usual patience with the provisional nature of science. Even simple dietary recommendations like lower fat/salt recommendations have become complicated as old truisms are overturned by new evidence. So I'm asking: To whom should I turn for meaningful guidance about modifying my risk for illness and boosting my health?

Entitlement: The Overlooked Dimension of Patient Engagement
June 4, 2014
What does it means to be an "engaged" patient in the VA system today? It seems you have to know a senator who will intervene on your behalf, to give your health care a priority higher than his other constituents. This is deeply discomforting, and I hate that I am treated in a health care system where even those who are most accountable for the quality of the care it provides (the institutional leaders) can't trust the institution or the professionals who work there to routinely and uniformly deliver excellent care...

More Jessie Blogs and Essays


Society for Behavioral Medicine Annual Meeting

The Society launched its annual Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement, which recognizes an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
April 25, 2014
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National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship: Rays of Hope 2013

Jessie Gruman was presented with the Excellence in Media Award and participated in the evening's panel, addressing Media and the Cancer Experience.

Newseum, Washington, DC
September 26, 2013
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Health Affairs Briefing: New Era of Patient Engagement

W Hotel, Washington, DC
February 6, 2013
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AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference

Grand Hyatt Hotel, Washington, DC
February 4, 2013
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Institute of Medicine Evidence Communication Innovation Collaborative

Keck Center of the National Academies, Washington, DC
January 14, 2013
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QualityNet Conference: A More Perfect Union:

Jessie Gruman delivered the keynote address titled "Beyond Buzzwords: What It Really Means to Engage Patients in Their Care"

Baltimore, Maryland
December 11, 2012
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More News and Events


Society of Behavioral Medicine Announces Inaugural 'Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement'

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At its 2014 annual meeting in Philadelphia, the Society for Behavioral Medicine created the annual Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement to recognize an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.


Jessie Gruman Receives Excellence in Media Award from NCCS

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CFAH President Jessie Gruman was presented with the Excellence in Media Award by the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS) at its annual Rays of Hope gala on September 26 at the Newseum in Washington, DC. She also participated in the evening's panel, addressing Media and the Cancer Experience. (Pictured: Jessie Gruman with Julia Rowland, Director of the Office of Cancer Survivorship at the National Cancer Institute, who presented the award.)


At Too Many Hospitals, a Revolving Door

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In this New York Times interview, Jessie Gruman shares her hospital discharge experience after having surgery for stomach cancer and points to three specific areas of improvement to help reduce readmissions. Interviewer Judith Graham asks, "Given the inadequacies in care for discharged patients — a well-documented and common problem — is it any wonder that so many bounce back to hospitals after they’re sent home?"


An Accidental Tourist Finds Her Way in the Dangerous Land of Serious Illness

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Health Affairs February issue, A New Era of Patient Engagement, selected my essay, An Accidental Tourist Finds Her Way in the Dangerous Land of Serious Illness, for its Narrative Matters piece. In the essay, I share experiences from my latest cancer diagnosis and call for policies to support patients and families with the increased responsibilities they face to find good health care and make the most of it.


When Your Doctor Says, “I Have Bad News”

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Jessie offers advice on how to cope with a scary diagnosis – withoug getting caught up in the chaos of fear. Written by Jon Spayde for Experience Life magazine's November 2012 issue.


The Lemon of Illness and the Demand for Lemonade – “The Open Mind” Interview

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Richard Heffner, host of The Open Mind on PBS, interviewed me about what it’s like to be a patient in the midst of changes in health care delivery, advances in information technology and the implementation of new health policies.