Decision Science Group

Human decisions and behaviors represent "final common pathways" for nearly all health care interventions. To achieve their potential to improve patient outcomes, interventions must be adopted by health care organizations, clinicians, and patients. In turn, how each group makes decisions will affect how health care interventions ultimately impact care.

This is the "why" behind the Decision Science Group (DSG): to use intersectional insight from decision-making sciences to strengthen the connection between health care interventions and patient outcomes. 

Read on to learn more about the DSG. We encourage all those interested in learning more or engaging to fill out our contact form.

Why We Exist

To use intersectional insight from the science of decision-making to strengthen the connection between health care interventions and patient outcomes. 

Who We Are

The DSG reflects a group of individuals from inside and outside of health care, including clinicians from different specialties (e.g., medicine, surgery), researchers (e.g., in the areas of health services,  care delivery, and clinical outcomes), and decision science experts (e.g., scholars in areas such as marketing and behavioral economics). Core members include faculty in the UW School of Medicine, UW School of Public Health, and UW Foster School of Business.

What We Do

The DSG seeks to bridge research, education, and implementation related to health care decision-making. It does so by fostering a community of individuals with shared interests in health care decisions and behaviors.

Research & Implementation. In research & implementation, the DSG facilitates collaborative projects that can take one or more of the following forms:

  • Theoretical Validation. This work involves early testing of decision science principles as they apply to health care topics. There is a need for these activities because many decision or behavioral science principles have either not yet been applied to health care, or not yet applied to specific areas or decisions within health care. The goal of this work is generate foundational insight that can then be tested in real-world settings.

  • Intervention Design. This work involves designing interventions using  decision science principles. The goal is to increase the likelihood that any given interventions can best support the intended organizational, clinician, and/or patient decisions.

  • Pragmatic Testing. This work involves collaborating with partners to deploy interventions -- ideally designed with decision science principles in mind -- in real-world clinical or other settings. 

  • Rigorous Evaluation. This work involves using both quantitative and qualitative methods to understand the intended and unintended impacts of health interventions. Quantitative work includes the application of advanced regression and quasi-experimental analyses of existing datasets. Qualitative work includes the use of interviews and other methods to conduct formative assessments of new or emerging decision-making phenomena.

EducationIn its educational mission, the DSG offers mentorship and didactics to learners in health care -- students, residents, fellows, and post-docs -- across different home home specialties and disciplines. This cross-training augments the education that learners receive in their home departments and programs. 

How We Do Our Work

One of the guiding principles of the DSG is that form should fit function, and much of the Group's work occurs among collaborators on a project-by-project basis.


However, given the broad, intersectional nature of decision science (which draws on multiple disciplines within the social and behavioral sciences), the DSG also spearheads two types of activities.


Meeting Series. We convene two series of meetings aimed at supporting work in and beyond the Group.   

  • Decision Science Initiatives. This series is focused on decision science application and recognizes the need to design and then implement interventions aimed at influencing decisions and behaviors in order to improve outcomes. Goals of this series include exposing attendees to ongoing decision science projects, and providing useful feedback to individuals leading those projects.

  • Concepts in Decision Science. This series is focused on decision science education and recognizes the need to understand principles and concepts from a wide range of disciplines relevant to decision science. Goals of this series include helping attendees build common language, share principles and and frameworks, and explore evaluative methods. Learn more about the types of topics that will be covered in the Concepts in Decision Science series.

The Validation LabWork in this virtual "lab" focuses on rapid early testing of decision science principles as they apply to topics in health care. This work is needed because many decision or behavioral science principles have either not yet been applied to health care, or specific decisions within it. It is critical to understand if and how principles in decision science apply to specific health care decisions. 

How We Share What We Learn

We share insights and findings from our work in several ways. These include presentation at national meetings, publication in peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed venues, and written or in-person briefs with decision-makers. 


Human decisions and behaviors represent "final common pathways" for nearly all health care interventions.

Therefore, the impact of these interventions depends on how organizations, clinicians, and patients decision and behave.