Our research team has conducted a number of impactful studies that have been translated into practice by a range of entities positively influencing health for millions of people. We have designed programs based on our findings that improve both the value and quality of care provided by health plans, employers and health systems.

Mitesh Patel, a CHIBE member, reaches out to shake somone's hand at an event

Government & Policy

Impact Story: Philadelphia

soda can stock photo from above cans

Project: Sweetened Beverage Tax

Director of the PEACH Lab Christina Roberto, PhD, published a significant study in JAMA showing that Philadelphia’s 1.5-cent-per-ounce sweetened beverage tax led to a 38% drop in sales of the taxed drinks, one year after the tax. Upon publication of the findings, Dr. Roberto’s work received widespread media coverage, and the City of Philadelphia was lauded locally, nationally, and globally for its efforts to lower sweetened drink consumption.

These findings provide important evidence that sweetened beverage taxes may be one of the most effective policy tools to decrease consumption of sugary drinks.Philly soda tax associated with 38% drop in sugary drink purchases

In addition, a study led by CHIBE-affiliated faculty member and Deputy Director of the PEACH Lab Laura Gibson, PhD, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found no evidence that people were substituting to high calorie foods in response to the Philly beverage tax.

Impact Story: Philly Vax Sweepstakes

philly vax sweepstakes

Project: Vaccine Incentive Program

The Behavior Change for Good Initiative (BCFG) and CHIBE helped Philadelphia launch the Philly Vax Sweepstakes, an incentive program to help boost COVID-19 vaccination rates among Philadelphia residents. Philadelphia City Mayor Jim Kenney announced the incentive program in June 2021 in a press conference, which spotlighted the work that Drs. Katy Milkman, Kevin Volpp, and Alison Buttenheim (all CHIBE members) have been involved in to design this sweepstakes. While there are now a number of state vaccine lotteries that have been launched around the country, Philly’s program has some unique features driven by behavioral insights as well as a desire to target the city’s most under-vaccinated communities. Read more here.

View media coverage of the sweepstakes here

Impact Story: COVID-19 Pandemic


Project: Coronavirus Research

CHIBE is proud that our faculty have worked hard to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, creating numerous programs locally and nationally, generating scholarship, and providing thought leadership to guide the pandemic response worldwide.

Our faculty engaged with policymakers in a variety of ways to help with the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. CHIBE Scientific Director Dr. Alison Buttenheim provided testimony on vaccine acceptance to the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In her testimony, Dr. Buttenheim provided several science-based recommendations that she hoped Congress would endorse, fund, and promote.

Dr. Buttenheim and CHIBE-affiliated faculty member Dr. Daniel Polsky were appointed to a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine ad-hoc committee on equitable allocation of COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Buttenheim also participated in the Philadelphia Department of Public Health COVID-19 Vaccine Advisory Committee and helped convene three Behavioral Science and COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance conversations that were co-hosted by CHIBE.

CHIBE-affiliated faculty member Dr. Harald Schmidt also provided public comments at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ COVID Health Equity Task Force.

In addition, Drs. Buttenheim, Angela Duckworth, Gretchen Chapman, and Adam Grant (all CHIBE affiliates) contributed to COVID-19 Vaccination Uptake Behavioral Science Task Force report for the CMS Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality for distribution to the Department of Health & Human Services.

On our COVID-19 research page, you can see some of the other ways in which our faculty and staff have contributed, through the creation of models to support COVID-19 patient care, through the development of public health prevention initiatives, in providing guidance to health systems, and in educating the public through media and social media communications, and much more.

Impact Story: HIV Testing Access


Project: HIV in sub-Saharan Africa

In a series of studies conducted in collaboration with an NGO in Kenya, CHIBE Associate Director Harsha Thirumurthy, PhD, and colleagues examined an innovative approach to increasing the coverage of HIV testing, particularly among people at high risk of HIV infection. They used HIV self-tests kits and leveraged social and sexual networks to increase HIV testing access by men and other individuals who are not seeking available clinic-based health services. They tested this approach in antenatal and postpartum clinics and among female sex workers and found that it was very effective in increase male partner and couples testing. Based on their study findings, a number of organizations adopted this ‘secondary distribution’ approach and the WHO recommended that countries should include it in their efforts to promote HIV testing.

Impact Story: Nudge Unit in South Africa

Project: Nudge Unit in South Africa

South Africa has the world’s largest HIV epidemic, and there are a number of ongoing efforts to expand access to HIV prevention and treatment services, with the goal of ultimately ending the epidemic by 2030. A major challenge facing the government and other organizations engaged in HIV service delivery is that services are not being utilized by key segments of the populations. Another challenge is retaining patients in HIV care. Building on Dr. Harsha Thirumurthy’s research that has applied behavioral economics insights to such challenges in Africa, as well as Dr. Alison Buttenheim’s research on behavioral economics and health, CHIBE forged a collaboration with a leading research institution in South Africa and established a first-of-its-kind nudge unit – Indlela – that will work closely with local researchers and organizations. Supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Indlela will build behavioral economics capacity in South Africa and support the development and testing of nudges in the health sector.

Impact Story: Menu Labeling

customer ordering from menu at restaurant

Project: Impact of Menu Labeling on Food Choices, Intake

CHIBE Associate Director and Director of the PEACH Lab Christina Roberto, PhD, conducted a randomized controlled study on restaurant menu labeling, which helped inform the national requirement that calorie labels on restaurant menus include a statement that places that information in the context of an adult’s recommended daily caloric intake. In the study, participants were randomly assigned to a menu with one of these three conditions:

  •  No calorie labels
  • Calorie labels
  • Calorie labels and information on what the recommended daily caloric intake is for the average adult.

The researchers found that those who received menus with calorie labeling ordered meals with fewer calories. However, they also discovered that participants who saw calorie labels (but not daily caloric intake recommendations) consumed more calories after the study dinner than those in the other two groups. Taking into consideration calories consumed during and after the study dinner, the participants who were given information on calories and the recommended daily caloric intake consumed an average of 250 fewer calories than the other groups, providing evidence that menu label legislation should require this labeling.

Impact Story: MedPAC and GAO

US capitol building

Project: GAO Report

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s report “Voluntary and Mandatory Episode-Based Payment Models and Their Participants” to Senator Ron Wyden, ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, cited research by CHIBE Associate Director Amol Navathe, MD, PhD, who was asked for his testimony on this subject.

Project: MedPAC

Dr. Navathe was also appointed by GAO as a member of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC). MedPAC is the primary advisory body for Congress on issues affecting the Medicare program and will also analyze access to care and quality of care, among other issues affecting Medicare.

Impact Story: Structural Racism

black lives matter sign

Project: Identifying police violence and structural racism as public health issues

Research by CHIBE-affiliated faculty member Atheendar Venkataramani, PhD, MD, on the spillover mental health consequences of police killings of unarmed Black Americans informed historic statements by the American Medical Association, American Public Health Association, American College of Physicians, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. These statements identified police violence – and structural racism, more generally – as a critical public health issue.

This research was also cited by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley in a letter to the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and by Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester in her 2020 House of Representatives Bill (H.R. 8140), “The Investing in Community Healing Act.”

Learn more about Dr. Venkataramani’s work on his Opportunity for Health website.

Impact Story: Front-of-Package Food Labeling

smart choices logo

Project: Evaluating “Smart Choices” labeling system

CHIBE Associate Director and Director of the PEACH Lab Christina Roberto, PhD, conducted research into the 2009 “Smart Choices” front-of package nutritional labeling system, which sought to help people make healthier decisions while food shopping. However, Dr. Roberto and her colleagues’ research found that 64% of products in the Smart Choices system would not meet objective criteria for a healthy product. These results informed the Connecticut Attorney General’s calls for legal investigation of the program. Shortly after, the program was halted.

Impact Story: Restaurant Sodium Warning Labels

fries with ketchup

Project: Improving Consumer Understanding of Sodium Levels

Findings from this study on restaurant sodium warning labels informed the design of the final Philadelphia sodium warning requirement. CHIBE Associate Director and Director of the PEACH Lab Christina Roberto, PhD, and colleagues found that designs with warning text could improve consumer understanding of the levels of sodium in their meals. Chain restaurants in Philadelphia now use the image below to inform restaurant-goers of meals that exceed 2,300 mg of sodium.

sodium warning label

Impact Story: Drive-Through Menus

drive through food

Project: Inclusion of menu labels on drive-through menu boards

Research by CHIBE Associate Director and Director of the PEACH Lab Christina Roberto, PhD, on the percentage of customers using fast food drive-through lanes was cited in a menu labeling bill introduced in Connecticut advocating for the inclusion of labels on drive-through menus. The study found that 57% of customers of 6 different chains purchased food through the drive-through lanes instead of entering the restaurants. “Menu labeling legislation should mandate the inclusion of menu labels on drive-through menu boards to maximize the impact of this public health intervention,” the study authors concluded.

Impact Story: Surgeon General

colorful salad

Project: Surgeon General Event

How can the food industry help create a healthy and equitable food system? This was the topic of discussion at a special event hosted by CHIBE, the PEACH Lab, the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, and the Penn Prevention Research Center in September 2020. Participants learned more about the Surgeon General’s “Community Health and Economic Prosperity” report, the National Salt and Sugar Reduction Initiative, Guiding Stars program, Just Salad’s Carbon Labeling, and food industry accountability.

The guest speakers at this virtual event were:

  • Vice Admiral Jerome Adams, MD, MPH, Surgeon General of the United States
  • Kim Kessler, JD, Assistant Commissioner, Bureau of Chronic Disease Prevention, The New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene
  • Sandra Noonan, MA, Chief Sustainability Officer, Just Salad
  • Julie Greene, MPH, Director of Guiding Stars Ahold Delhaize USA
  • Jim Krieger, MD, MPH, Founding Executive Director, Healthy Food America: Clinical Professor of Medicine and Health Services, University of Washington
View a video recording of the event, complete with audio transcription Find the food policy event video here

Impact Story: Implementation Science

implementation science

Project: Advocating for Implementation Science and Mental Health Services

Associate Director of CHIBE Rinad Beidas, PhD, was invited by the Friends of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) coalition to participate in a congressional briefing to share information about mental health services and implementation research this July.

The title of her talk was: “Investing in implementation science to maximize the impact of scientific discovery: Lessons learned and the way forward.” Dr. Beidas spoke about what implementation science is and why it is important, gave some examples from her team’s NIMH-funded work, and discussed future opportunities.

Implementation science offers a set of tools—such as frameworks, methods, and outcomes—that must be applied to accelerate the impact of research and research investments, she explained. Dr. Beidas believes investing in implementation science is so important because it has the potential to improve the lives of Americans. In her talk, Dr. Beidas also noted the importance of using behavioral economics to make it easier to incorporate evidence-based practices into clinicians’ work.

Dr. Beidas was joined in this panel by Dr. Josh Gordon, Director of NIMH, and Dr. Greg Simon, Director of the NIMH-funded Mental Health Research Network.