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

Ahmedani BK, Stewart C, Simon GE, Lynch F, Lu CY, Waitzfelder BE, Solberg LI, Owen-Smith AA, Beck A, Copeland LA, Hunkeler EM, Rossom RC, Williams K.

Racial/ethnic differences in health care visits made before suicide attempt across the United States.

Med Care. 2015 May;53(5):430-5.

Brown HJ, Andreason H, Melling AK, Imel ZE, Simon GE.

Problems with using patient retention in the evaluation of mental health providers: differences in type of dropout.

Psychiatr Serv. 2015 Apr 15:appips201400059. [Epub ahead of print]. PubMed

Steinfeld B, Franklin A, Mercer B, Fraynt R, Simon G.

Progress monitoring in an integrated health care system: tracking behavioral health vital signs.

Adm Policy Ment Health. 2015 Apr 4. [Epub ahead of print].

Ahmedani BK, Solberg LI, Copeland LA, Fang-Hollingsworth Y, Stewart C, Hu J, Nerenz DR, Williams LK, Cassidy-Bushrow AE, Waxmonsky J, Lu CY, Waitzfelder BE, Owen-Smith AA, Coleman KJ, Lynch FL, Ahmed AT, Beck A, Rossom RC, Simon GE.

Psychiatric comorbidity and 30-day readmissions after hospitalization for heart failure, AMI, and pneumonia.

Psychiatr Serv. 2015;66(2):134-40. doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.201300518. Epub 2014 Nov 1. PubMed