Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH

“We bring a practical approach to mental health research, working to break down barriers between research and real-world health care.” 

Gregory E. Simon, MD, MPH

Group Health Research Institute Senior Investigator
Group Health Psychiatrist 

Areas of focus:

Biography

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 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.

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.

The Health Care Systems Research Collaboratory of the National Institutes of Health awarded Dr. Simon and colleagues on of its first Pragmatic Clinical Trials grans for a large study of outreach programs to reduce risk of suicide attempts.

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 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.

Research interests and experience

  • Mental health

    Depression; bipolar disorder; suicide prevention; self-management; treatment adherence

  • Obesity

    Obesity and depression

Recent publications

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

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

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