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. CFAH activities are supported by foundations and individuals. The mission of CFAH is to increase people's engagement in their health care. As president Dr. 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.
Gruman worked on this same set of concerns in the private sector (AT&T), the public sector (National Cancer Institute) and the voluntary health sector (American Cancer Society).
She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations and was a fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and the Society for Behavioral Medicine. She received honorary doctorates from Brown University, Carnegie Mellon University, Clark University, Georgetown University, New York University, Northeastern University, Salve Regina University, Syracuse University and Tulane University, and the Presidential Medal of the George Washington University. She was also honored by Research!America, the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship, and the Society for Behavioral Medicine, which in 2014 created the Jessie Gruman Award for Health Engagement to recognize annually an individual who has made a pivotal contribution to research, practice or policy in the field of health engagement.
Gruman received a B.A. from Vassar College and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Columbia University and was a professorial lecturer in the School of Public Health and Health Services at the George Washington University.
Gruman was the author of AfterShock: What to Do When the Doctor Gives You – or Someone You Love – a Devastating Diagnosis (Walker Publishing, second edition, 2010); Slow Leaks: Missed Opportunities to Encourage Our Engagement in Our Health Care (Health Behavior Media, 2013); A Year of Living Sickishly: A Patient Reflects (Health Behavior Media, 2013); The Experience of the American Patient: Risk, Trust and Choice (Health Behavior Media, 2009); Behavior Matters (Health Behavior Media, 2008) as well as scientific papers and opinion essays and articles. She blogged regularly on the Prepared Patient Blog and tweeted on weekdays @jessiegruman.
Patient Engagement Is Here to Stay
January 15, 2015
Jessie Gruman founded the Center for Advancing Health in 1992 and served as president until her death in 2014. After over 20 years under her remarkable leadership, CFAH ended operations in December 2014. This post was Jessie's final essay announcing the release of CFAH’s last patient engagement research report and sharing some personal reflections on her career...
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?