Ronald M. Epstein, M.D.

Ronald M. Epstein, M.D.

Contact Information

Department of Family Medicine Research
1381 South Ave
Rochester, NY 14620

Office: (585) 506-9484
Fax: (585) 473-2245

Research Bio

Ronald M. Epstein, M.D. is Professor of Family Medicine, Psychiatry & Oncology at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He is board-certified in Family Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He serves as Director of the Center for Communication and Disparities Research and as Director of the Dean's Teaching Fellowship Program for junior and mid-career faculty.

Dr. Epstein's NIH-, AHRQ- and foundation-funded studies have added to our understanding of the impact of patient-physician relationships and communication on health, the process of care and health care costs. In particular, his research has focused on patient-centered care, patient influence on clinicians' practice patterns, and clinician mindfulness and self-awareness. Dr. Epstein's research has addressed important barriers to communication, compassion and patient/family-centered care. His observational and intervention studies have focused on AIDS, depression, somatization, advanced cancer and care at the end of life, and also address racial and social disparities in the achievement of patient-centered care. His seminal work on mindful practice and shared mind addresses how self-awareness of underlying biases and attitudes influences the patient-physician relationship and quality of care.

Over the past 25 years, Dr. Epstein has developed innovative educational programs in mindful practice, communication skills, the patient-physician relationship, physician self-awareness and assessment of professional competence, including peer assessment. His widely cited papers on educational theory and practice have been published in JAMA and the New England Journal of Medicine. In 2009, his team demonstrated the positive effects of an educational program in mindful communication on physician empathy, burnout and clinical care. He has over 170 peer-reviewed publications relating to communication in medicine and medical education, and an additional 60 chapters, editorials and monographs. He has produced influential monographs on patient-centered care for the National Cancer Institute (2007) and American Board of Internal Medicine (2008).

Dr. Epstein graduated from Wesleyan University (1976) and Harvard Medical School (1984). Among his accomplishments, he was named the first George Engel and John Romano Dean's Teaching Scholar at the University of Rochester, received the Lynn Payer Award from the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare for lifetime achievement in research on communication and health and the Humanism in Medicine Award from the New York Academy of Medicine. He has been a Fulbright scholar at the Institute for Health Studies in Barcelona, Spain and a visiting scholar at the University of Sydney, and continues collaborations with both institutions. He is a frequent keynote speaker at major national and international conferences on medical education, communication, and mindfulness in health care. He is an accomplished harpsichordist and gourmet cook, and an avid cyclist and cross-country skier. His wife, Deborah Fox is a freelance lutenist and founding artistic director of Pegasus Early Music. They have two children, Malka and Eli.

Awards & Honors (National)

Highly Cited Researcher | Thomson Reuters 2014 - 2014
"Top Doctor" | Castle Connolly Medical Ltd 2013
Steven Z. Miller Humanism in Medicine Award | New York Academy of Medicine 2013
"Top Doctor" | US News & World Report 2011
Best Published Research Paper of the Year Award | Society of General Internal Medicine 2006
Article of the Year Award | Academy Health 2006
Visiting Lectureship on Doctor-Patient Relationship | Koppaka Family Foundation | University of Virginia 2005
Outstanding Contributions to the Literature on Theory, Practice & Teaching of Effective Healthcare Communication & Related Skill | American Academy on Communication in Healthcare 2005
Humanism in Medicine Award | Association of American Medical Colleges nominee | University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry 2004
Pfizer-American Academy of Family Physicians Foundation Visiting Professorship | University of California, San Diego 2003
Visiting Lectureship on Doctor-Patient Relationship | Koppaka Family Foundation | Oregon Health Sciences University 2003
"Best Doctor in America" 1998 - 2013
The World's Most Influential Scientific Minds: 2014 | Thomson Reuters 2014

Awards & Honors (Local)

Fulbright Senior Scholar Award in Public/Global Health | International Award | University of Córdoba, Spain 2004
Fulbright Senior Lecturers Award | Institute for Health Studies | Barcelona, Spain, International Award 1997 - 1998
George L. Engel and John Romano Dean's Teaching Scholar | URSMD | Rochester, NY 1995 - 1998
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Generalist Physician Faculty Scholar 1994 - 1998
Volunteer of the Year Award | Volunteers of America | Rochester, NY 1991
Best Workshop | STFM Northeast Regional Meeting | Hershey, PA 1989

Recent Journal Articles

Showing the 5 most recent journal articles. 180 available »

2017 Jan 1
Epstein RM, Duberstein PR, Fenton JJ, Fiscella K, Hoerger M, Tancredi DJ, Xing G, Gramling R, Mohile S, Franks P, Kaesberg P, Plumb S, Cipri CS, Street RL, Shields CG, Back AL, Butow P, Walczak A, Tattersall M, Venuti A, Sullivan P, Robinson M, Hoh B, Lewis L, Kravitz RL. "Effect of a Patient-Centered Communication Intervention on Oncologist-Patient Communication, Quality of Life, and Health Care Utilization in Advanced Cancer: The VOICE Randomized Clinical Trial." JAMA oncology. 2017 Jan 1; 3(1):92-100.
2016 Nov 1
Gramling R, Fiscella K, Xing G, Hoerger M, Duberstein P, Plumb S, Mohile S, Fenton JJ, Tancredi DJ, Kravitz RL, Epstein RM. "Determinants of Patient-Oncologist Prognostic Discordance in Advanced Cancer." JAMA oncology. 2016 Nov 1; 2(11):1421-1426.
2016 Oct
Shepherd HL, Barratt A, Jones A, Bateson D, Carey K, Trevena LJ, McGeechan K, Del Mar CB, Butow PN, Epstein RM, Entwistle V, Weisberg E. "Can consumers learn to ask three questions to improve shared decision making? A feasibility study of the ASK (AskShareKnow) Patient-Clinician Communication Model(®) intervention in a primary health-care setting." Health expectations : an international journal of public participation in health care and health policy. 2016 Oct; 19(5):1160-8. Epub 2015 Sep 14.
2016 Mar
Rodenbach RA, Rodenbach KE, Tejani MA, Epstein RM. "Relationships between personal attitudes about death and communication with terminally ill patients: How oncology clinicians grapple with mortality." Patient education and counseling. 2016 Mar; 99(3):356-63. Epub 2015 Oct 23.
2016 Feb
Fenton JJ, Kravitz RL, Jerant A, Paterniti DA, Bang H, Williams D, Epstein RM, Franks P. "Promoting Patient-Centered Counseling to Reduce Use of Low-Value Diagnostic Tests: A Randomized Clinical Trial." JAMA internal medicine. 2016 Feb; 176(2):191-7.

Current Appointments

Professor - Department of Family Medicine (SMD) - Primary
Professor - Department of Medicine, Palliative Care (SMD)


Hospice and Palliative Medicine - American Board of Family Medicine
Family Medicine - American Board of Family Medicine


MD | Medicine | Harvard Medical School1984
Pre-Medical Studies | Columbia University1980
BA | Music | Wesleyan University1976

Post-Doctoral Training & Residency

Fellowship in FM/Psych/HIV at Highland Hospital of Rochester07/01/1988 - 06/30/1990
Residency in Family Medicine at Highland Hospital07/01/1985 - 06/30/1987
Internship in Family Medicine at Highland Hospital07/01/1984 - 06/30/1985