About the Author
John “Jack” Wennberg has dedicated his career to uncovering the variations and inefficiencies that plague American health care. With colleague Alan Gittelsohn, Wennberg developed a strategy in the 1970s for studying population-based rates of the supply of health care resources and the use of those resources. The two researchers discovered substantial variations at both the local and regional level – variations that appeared to be related to the distribution of health care resources and to differences in medical opinion. Working with physicians and researchers in Maine and Boston, Wennberg began a series of studies designed to reduce scientific uncertainty, particularly in the treatment of prostate disease, an area of significant disagreement among physicians. These efforts led to further attempts to raise awareness of the importance of patient preferences in making decisions about health care and to studies that actively involved patients in the choice of treatment.
In 1988, Wennberg founded the Center for the Evaluative Clinical Sciences at Dartmouth, now called The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI), to foster research on shared decision making and variations in health care. He is the director emeritus of TDI, the founding editor of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, and a cofounder of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making. Dr. Wennberg serves as senior policy advisor to the Foundation and to Health Dialog, a disease management company. He has been a professor at Dartmouth Medical School since 1980.
His many honors include membership in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars. He has received numerous awards, including the Institute of Medicine’s 2008 Gustav O. Lienhard Award, the Association for Health Services Research’s Distinguished Investigator Award, the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award in Clinical Medicine, the Baxter Foundation’s Health Services Research, and was named Health Affairs Most Influential Health Policy Researcher of the Past Quarter-Century in November 2007.