Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH
Senior Investigator, GHRI
Group Health Psychiatrist
Research interests and experience
Group Health psychiatrist Greg Simon has been a driving force in mental health research at Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) since the early 1990s. With a knack for finding effective real-world strategies, he consistently pursues a rigorous and diverse research agenda, helping improve mental health treatment at home and abroad.
Dr. Simon has led several studies showing that simple, relatively inexpensive care management programs can significantly improve the lives of people with mood disorders—both at Group Health and in clinics serving low-income urban patients in developing countries. In 2004, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported findings from Dr. Simon and colleagues showing that phone-based care management and psychotherapy are effective treatments for depression, in part because they included vigorous outreach to people who may not otherwise seek or follow through with treatment. His research with colleagues in Chile found that organized programs to improve depression treatment had even greater benefit in a disadvantaged urban clinic there than they do in more advanced settings in the United States.
Dr. Simon is especially interested in developing and studying programs that empower patients to become more active partners in their care and to achieve a full, rewarding life—not just a decrease in symptoms and side effects. He frequently partners with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), the nation’s largest patient-run organization for people living with mental health conditions. He also chairs their scientific advisory board.
Other areas where Dr. Simon has made key contributions include obesity and depression, health plan coverage for antidepressants,the impact of mood disorders in the workplace, and suicide risk. In 2007, he showed that the pattern of suicide attempts after starting antidepressants was the same as the pattern after starting psychotherapy—suggesting that suicide risk has little to do with specific effects of medication. In 2013, Dr. Simon and colleagues showed that routinely administered depression outcome questionnaires can identify people at increased risk for suicide attempt.
Dr. Simon’s success as a physician scientist is notable. Recognized among the greater Seattle area’s best doctors in 2006 and 2007, he has also been thrice honored for his contributions to mental health research and care, with two awards from the American Psychiatric Association and another from the DBSA.
Dr. Simon leads the Mental Health Research Network, a consortium of research centers affiliated with 11 large health systems across the United States. This network, funded through a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), aims to improve the efficiency, relevance, and impact of mental health clinical and health services research
For the National Advisory Mental Health Council, Dr. Simon serves as one of 15 mental health researchers who advise on research priorities and new research directions. The Council advises the secretary of Health and Human Services and the directors of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIMH on all policies and activities relating to the conduct and support of mental health research, research training, and other programs.
Dr. Simon is also editor for the Cochrane Collaboration’s depression and anxiety review group and also sits on the editorial boards for General Hospital Psychiatry and Psychiatric Services. He has practiced adult psychiatry in Group Health’s Behavioral Health Service since 1990 and holds an appointment as a research professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington.
Simon GE, Stewart C, Beck A, Ahmedani BK, Coleman KJ, Whitebird RR, Lynch F, Owen-Smith AA, Waitzfelder BE, Soumerai SB, Hunkeler EM. National prevalence of receipt of antidepressant prescriptions by persons without a psychiatric diagnosis. Psychiatr Serv. 2014 May 1. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300371 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Whiteside U, Richards J, Steinfeld B, Simon G, Caka S, Tachibana C, Stuckey S, Ludman E. Online cognitive behavioral therapy for depressed primary care patients: a pilot feasibility project. Perm J. 2014 Spring;18(2):21-7.
Zhong Q, Gelaye B, Rondon M, Sánchez SS, García JP, Sánchez E, Barrios BY, Simon GE, C Henderson D, Cripe MS, Williams AM. Comparative performance of Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale for screening antepartum depression. J Affect Disord. 2014 Jun;162:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2014.03.028. Epub 2014 Mar 26. PubMed
Ahmedani BK, Simon GE, Stewart C, Beck A, Waitzfelder BE, Rossom R, Lynch F, Owen-Smith A, Hunkeler EM, Whiteside U, Operskalski BH, Coffey MJ, Solberg LI. Health care contacts in the year before suicide death. J Gen Intern Med. 2014 Feb 25 [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed
Whiteside U, Lungu A, Richards J, Simon GE, Clingan S, Siler J, Snyder L, Ludman E. Designing messaging to engage patients in an online suicide prevention intervention: survey results from patients with current suicidal ideation. J Med Internet Res. 2014 Feb 7;16(2):e42. doi: 10.2196/jmir.3173. PubMed
Penfold RB, Stewart C, Hunkeler EM, Madden JM, Cummings JR, Owen-Smith AA, Rossom RC, Lu CY, Lynch FL, Waitzfelder BE, Coleman KA, Ahmedani BK, Beck AL, Zeber JE, Simon GE. Use of antipsychotic medications in pediatric populations: what do the data say? Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2013 Dec;15(12):426. doi: 10.1007/s11920-013-0426-8. PubMed
Richesson RL, Hammond WE, Nahm M, Wixted D, Simon GE, Robinson JG, Bauck AE, Cifelli D, Smerek MM, Dickerson J, Laws RL, Madigan RA, Rusincovitch SA, Kluchar C, Califf RM. Electronic health records based phenotyping in next-generation clinical trials: a perspective from the NIH Health Care Systems Collaboratory. J Am Med Inform Assoc. 2013 Dec;20(e2):e226-31. doi: 10.1136/amiajnl-2013-001926. Epub 2013 Aug 16. PubMed
Simon GE, Rutter CM, Peterson D, Oliver M, Whiteside U, Operskalski B, Ludman EJ. Does response on the PHQ-9 depression questionnaire predict subsequent suicide attempt or suicide death? Psychiatr Serv. 2013 Dec 1;64(12):1195-202. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201200587. Epub 2013 Sep 16. PubMed
Fortney JC, Pyne JM, Simon GE, Ludman EJ. Response to White. Am J Psychiatry. 2013;170(8):926-7. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13040471r. PubMed
Simon GE, Ludman EJ. Should mental health interventions be locally grown or factory-farmed? Am J Psychiatry. 2013 Apr 1;170(4):362-5. doi: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13010043. PubMed
Simon GE, Peterson D, Hubbard R. Is treatment adherence consistent across time, across different treatments and across diagnoses? Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2013 Mar-Apr;35(2):195-201. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2012.10.001. Epub 2012 Nov 9. PubMed
To view more publications, please see Dr. Simon’s CV.