David E. Arterburn, MD, MPH

“It's critical that we find cost-effective ways to reduce obesity. My research examines the long-term effects of behavioral, pharmaceutical, and surgical treatments and promotes shared decision-making between patients and their providers.” 

David Arterburn, MD, MPH

Group Health Research Institute Associate Investigator
Group Health Physician, Internal Medicine

Areas of focus:


David Arterburn's main research focus is on finding safe, effective, and innovative ways to treat obesity. He is a general internist and health services researcher with a passionate commitment to helping individuals and families make treatment decisions that align with their values while sustaining their health over the long haul.

A national leader in obesity research, Dr. Arterburn joined Group Health Research Institute (GHRI) in 2006 to forge a new program of research spanning behavioral, pharmaceutical, and bariatric surgical care. Before joining GHRI, he published important findings on the epidemic nature and rising cost of obesity in the United States. Because tackling the obesity crisis requires a menu of treatment options, Dr. Arterburn's current research covers a broad range, including policy-level interventions for health plans, pharmaco-epidemiology, pharmacogenetics, the long-term outcomes of bariatric surgery, and shared decision making related to elective surgery. With the support of the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, for which he serves as a medical editor, he has collaborated with Group Health's specialty leadership to implement and evaluate a new initiative to promote shared decision making around elective surgical care with video-based patient decision aids. The approach shows great promise for simultaneously improving the quality and lowering the costs of health care.

Dr. Arterburn's prior research in obesity pharmacotherapy has had a significant impact on clinical practice guidelines issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the American College of Physicians. Dr. Arterburn is past chair of the Adult Obesity Measurement Advisory Panel sponsored by the National Committee on Quality Assurance, founding chair of the Obesity Society's Health Services Research Section, and past chair of HMO Research Network (HMORN)'s Obesity Special Interest Group. He is also an affiliate associate professor in the University of Washington (UW) Department of Medicine. Dr. Arterburn is excited to continue his multidisciplinary work with these and other colleagues from the HMORN, the UW, and the VA.

Areas of research focus

  • Obesity

    Bariatric surgery; health services research; economics and risk adjustment; pharmaceutical outcomes research

  • Health Services & Economics

    Obesity prevention and control

  • Medication Use & Patient Safety

    Pharmaco-epidemiology, pharmacogenetics, pharmaceutical outcomes research

  • Patient/Provider Interaction

    Shared decision making

Recent publications

Arterburn DE, Olsen MK, Smith VA, Livingston EH, Van Scoyoc L, Yancy WS Jr, Eid G, Weidenbacher H, Maciejewski ML.

Association between bariatric surgery and long-term survival.

JAMA. 2015;313(1):62-70. doi: 10.1001/jama.2014.16968. PubMed

Courcoulas AP, Yanovski SZ, Bonds D, Eggerman TL, Horlick M, Staten MA, Arterburn DE.

Long-term outcomes of bariatric surgery: a National Institutes of Health symposium.

JAMA Surg. 2014 Dec 1;149(12):1323-9. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2014.2440. PubMed

Arterburn D, Powers JD, Toh S, Polsky S, Butler MG, Portz JD, Donahoo WT, Herrinton L, Williams RJ, Vijayadeva V, Fisher D, Bayliss EA.

Comparative effectiveness of laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding vs laparoscopic gastric bypass.

JAMA Surg. 2014 Dec 1;149(12):1279-87. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2014.1674. PubMed

Littman AJ, McFarland LV, Thompson ML, Bouldin E, Arterburn DE, Majerczyk BR, Boyko EJ.

Weight loss intention, dietary behaviors, and barriers to dietary change in veterans with lower extremity amputations.

Disabil Health J. 2014 Nov 29. pii: S1936-6574(14)00186-1. doi: 10.1016/j.dhjo.2014.10.003. [Epub ahead of print].

Littman AJ, Thompson ML, Boyko EJ, Sangeorzan BJ, Haselkorn JK, Arterburn DE.

Physical activity barriers and enablers in older veterans with a lower extremity amputation.

J Rehabil Res Dev. 2014;51(6):895-906. doi: 10.1682/JRRD.2013.06.0152.


GHRI In the Media

Surgery for obesity is linked to longer survival

Weight-loss surgery cuts risk of death among morbidly obese

Seattle Times, Jan 6, 2015