Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD

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“Listening to patient experiences of health, illness, and medical care is a privilege, and my most important work.”

Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD

Assistant Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute

Biography

Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD, is a medical anthropologist with a passion for eliciting illness narratives and health care experiences from patients, family members, and medical professionals. She has researched how the intersection of creative practices and medical care provide insight into understanding the logic of biomedical care, what counts as evidence that a creative activity "works," and how arts activities can serve as a model of how to provide better, more patient- and family-centered care. She is particularly interested in how we attend to patient suffering, and in what types of care are possible when no medical treatments are available.

Her previous work includes examining education policy in sub-Saharan Africa and developing curricula for health education, specifically HIV/AIDS education in Kenya and Mozambique.

Dr. Figueroa Gray has extensive experience designing qualitative studies and analyzing qualitative data. At Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), she uses this expertise to examine how patients, family members, and physicians make medical decisions when outcomes are uncertain and stakes are high, such as deciding whether or not to participate in an immunotherapy trial, or choosing which treatments to pursue as an adolescent or young adult with advanced cancer. She founded the KPWHRI Qualitative Research Interest Group, which supports outstanding qualitative research at the institute.

RESEARCH INTERESTS AND EXPERIENCE

  • Child & Adolescent Health

  • Social Determinants of Health

  • Complementary & Integrative Health

    Implementation of alternative healing programs in U.S. hospitals; patient and provider experience of alternative healing programs
     
  • Medical Education

    Use of the arts in medical education; history of medical education; medical school curriculum development
  • Cancer Care and End of Life Care

    Oncology support and care; end of life decision making
     
  • Integrative Medicine and Arts in Healing Programs

    Participant experience; benefits; values and funding; legacy projects
  • Patient-Centered Care

    Shared decision making; care logics

  • Global Health

    HIV/AIDS education; maternal and child health; sub-Saharan Africa

Recent publications

Evers S, Hsu C, Gray MF, Chisolm DJ, DolcĂ© M, Autio K, Thompson EE, Ervin E, Quintana LM, Beck A, Hansell L, Penfold R. Decision-making among adolescents prescribed antipsychotic medications: Interviews to gain perspectives of youth without psychosis or mania. Clin Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2022 Jun 12;13591045221105197. doi: 10.1177/13591045221105197. Online ahead of print. PubMed

Coleman KJ, Paz SR, Bhakta BB, Taylor B, Liu J, Yoon TK, Macias M, Arterburn DE, Crawford CL, Drewnowksi A, Figueroa Gray MS, Hansell LD, Ji M, Lewis KH, Moore DD, Murali SB, Young DR. Cohort profile: the Bariatric Experience Long Term (BELONG): a long-term prospective study to understand the psychosocial, environmental, health and behavioural predictors of weight loss and regain in patients who have bariatric surgery. BMJ Open. 2022 May 24;12(5):e059611. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059611. PubMed

Figueroa Gray M, Coleman K, Walsh-Bailey C, Girard S, Lozano P. An expanded role for the medical assistant in primary care: evaluating a training pilot. Perm J. 2021 Nov 29;25:20.091. doi: 10.7812/TPP/20.091. PubMed

Palazzo L, Hsu C, Barnes DE, Figueroa Gray M, Greenwood-Hickman MA, Larson E, Dublin S. Patient and caregiver perspectives on a tool to increase recognition of undiagnosed dementia: a qualitative study. BMC Geriatr. 2021 Oct 26;21(1):604. doi: 10.1186/s12877-021-02523-0. PubMed

Tuzzio L, Berry AL, Gleason K, Barrow J, Bayliss EA, Gray MF, Delate T, Bermet Z, Uratsu C, Grant RW, Ralston JD. Aligning care with the personal values of patients with complex care needs. Health Serv Res. 2021 Aug 6. doi: 10.1111/1475-6773.13862. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

 

Healthy findings blog

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Creating meaning in health care

Research by Marlaine Figueroa Gray, PhD, includes exploring the intersection of medicine and creativity.

VOICE STUDY

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Understanding young adults’ experiences with cancer

The VOICE study aims to improve the health and health care of people who had cancer as adolescents and young adults.

clare project study

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Young adults with cancer speak about balancing hope and risk

The first Clare Project study asked about values and care preferences. Project leaders are now building on that foundation.