John Wennberg

Peggy Y. Thomson Professor (Chair), Evaluative Clinical Sciences; and Founder and Director Emeritus, The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Hannover, New Hampshire

John E. Wennberg, M.D., M.P.H., is the Peggy Y. Thomson Professor Emeritus in the Evaluative Clinical Sciences and Founder and Director Emeritus of The Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice. He has been a Professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine since 1980 and in the Department of Medicine since 1989.

Dr. Wennberg is a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Science 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, and the Baxter Foundation's Health Services Research Prize.

He is a graduate of Stanford University and the McGill Medical School. His post-graduate training was in internal medicine and nephrology at Johns Hopkins University, but he became interested in the application of epidemiological principles to the health care system while pursuing his Master's degree in Public Health at Johns Hopkins.

With colleague Alan Gittelsohn, he developed a strategy for studying the population-based rates of health resource allocation and utilization (small area analysis), which revealed large variations in the rates among local and regional health care markets, much of which appeared to relate to the distribution of supply of resources and to differences in local medical opinion. Together with colleagues in Maine and Boston, Dr. Wennberg undertook a series of studies designed to reduce scientific uncertainty, primarily in the area of prostate disease (where surgical procedures had been shown to vary by a factor of three or more among neighboring regions). Efforts to clarify the outcomes and the theoretical basis for undertaking prostate surgery led, in turn, to awareness of the importance of patient preference in the rational choice of treatment and to studies involving the patient as an active participant in the choice of treatment. Recent research includes a focus on the question of how many physicians are needed.

Wennberg and colleague Al Mulley are co-founders of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, a non-profit corporation providing objective scientific information to patients about their treatment choices using interactive media. In 2005, Dr. Wennberg and Dr. Mulley were co-recipients of the Picker Institute Award for Advancement of Patient Centered Care.

Dr. Wennberg is the founding editor of The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, which examines the patterns of medical resource intensity and utilization in the United States. The Atlas project has also reported on patterns of end of life care, inequities in the Medicare reimbursement system, and the underuse of preventive care.


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