By Role

By Name

Scott Halpern, MD, PhD, MBE

    • halpern

  • shalpern@exchange.upenn.edu
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Perelman School of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care
  • 719 Blockley Hall
  • 423 Guardian Drive
  • Philadelphia, PA 19104
  • Phone: 215-898-1462
  • Fax: 215-573-5325

Faculty Positions


Research Interests

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 in two related fields. First, he examines the allocation of scarce healthcare resources including ICU beds and services, solid-organ transplants, and blood products.  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 and equitably.  Second, he examines the use of behavioral economic approaches, including focusing effects, default options, and novel structures of financial incentives, to improve patients’ decisions related to selections of end-of-life care, smoking cessation, participation in randomized clinical trials, and other health-related behaviors.  Dr. Halpern’s research is supported by the National Cancer Institute, National Institute on Aging, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Society of Critical Care Medicine, American Thoracic Society, and by a Greenwall Foundation Faculty Scholar Award in Bioethics.  He has served as a consultant for the NIH, FDA, CDC, UNOS, The World Bank, and for several advisory committees to the U.S. Secretary for Health and Human Services.

Selected Publications

Auriemma CL, Nguyen CA, Bronheim R, Kent S, Nadigu S, Pardo D, Halpern SD.  Stability of end-of-life preferences:  A systematic review of the evidence.  JAMA Internal Medicine.  2014; 174:1085-1092.

Halpern SD, Loewenstein G, Volpp KG, Cooney E, Vranas K, Quill CM, McKenzie MS, Harhay MO, Gabler NB, Silva T, Arnold R, Angus DC, Bryce C.  Default options in advance directives influence how patients set goals for end of life care.  Health affairs 2013; 32:410-4187

Kerlin MP, Small DS, Cooney E, Fuchs BD, Bellini LM, Mikkelsen ME< Schweickert WD, Bakhru RN, Gabler NB, Harhay MO, Hansen-Flaschen J, Halpern SD.  A randomized trial of nighttime physician staffing in an intensive care unit.  NEJM. 2013; 368:2201-2209.

Wagner J, Gabler NB, Ratcliffe SJ, Brown SES, Strom BL, Halpern SD.  Outcomes among patients discharged from busy intensive care units.  Annals of Internal Medicine.  2013; 159:447-455.

Halpern SD, Asch DA, Volpp KG. Commitment contracts as a way to health.  BMJ 2012;344:e522.

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

Halpern SD, Asch DA, Volpp KG: Commitment contracts as a way to health. BMJ. 2012; 344: e522.

Halpern SD: Financial incentives for research participation: Empirical questions, available answers, and the burden of further proof. American Journal of the Medical Sciences. 2011; 342: 290-293.

Halpern SD, Kohn R, Dornbrand-Lo A, Metkus T, Asch DA, Volpp KG. Lottery-based versus fixed incentives to increase clinicians’ response to surveys. Health Services Research. 2011; 46: 1663-1674.

Swindell JS, McGuire AL, Halpern SD. Shaping patients’ decisions. Chest. 2011; 139: 424-429.

Swindell JS, McGuire AL, Halpern SD: Beneficent persuasion: techniques and ethical guidelines to improve patients' decisions. Annals of Family Medicine. 2010; 8(3): 260-264.

Halpern SD, Raz A, Kohn R, Rey M, Asch DA, Reese PP.  Regulated payments for living kidney donation:  Empirical assessment of the ethical concerns.  Annals of Internal Medicine.  2010; 152:358-65.

Halpern SD, Madison KM, Volpp KG. Patients as mercenaries? The ethics of using financial incentives in the war on unhealthy behaviors. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2009; 2: 514-516.

Halpern SD, Ubel PA, Asch DA. Harnessing the power of default options to improve healthcare. NEJM. 2007; 357:1340-1344.

Halpern SD, Karlawish JHT, Casarett D, Berlin JA, Asch DA.  Empirical assessment of whether moderate payments are undue or unjust inducements for participation in clinical trials.  Archives of Internal Medicine.  2004; 164:801-3.



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