Stewart C. Alexander, PhD

Associate Professor in Medicine
Assistant Research Professor in the School of Nursing
Department / Division:
Medicine / General Internal Medicine
411 West Chapel Hill Street
Suite 500
Durham, NC 27701
Office Telephone:
(919) 668-7220
  • PhD, University of Illinois at Urbana, 2002
Research Interests:

Dr. Alexander  is a communication methodologist with a strong training in qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods analyses. Dr. Alexander's work focuses on three important areas of health care: oncology, palliative care, and preventive health.  In oncology and palliative care, his work focuses on evaluating the ways physicians, nurses, residents, and other house staff: (1) deliver bad news to patients and families, (2) recognize and respond to patient emotions, (3) discuss prognosis and treatment options, (4) explaining informed consent, and (5) discuss transitions to palliative care.  In preventive health,his work focuses on evaluating how health care providers: (1) talk with their obese and overweight patients about weight loss, (2) counsel pregnant smokers to quit smoking, (3) explain genetic test results to promote behavior change, and (4) talk to adolescents about issues of sexuality and sexual behavior.

Representative Publications:
  • Alexander, SC; Sullivan, AM; Back, AL; Tulsky, JA; Goldman, RE; Block, SD; Stewart, SK; Wilson-Genderson, M; Lee, SJ. Information giving and receiving in hematological malignancy consultations. Psycho-Oncology: journal of the psychological, social and behavioral dimensions of cancer. 2012;21:297-306.  Abstract
  • Alexander, SC; Cox, ME; Boling Turer, CL; Lyna, P; Østbye, T; Tulsky, JA; Dolor, RJ; Pollak, KI. Do the five A's work when physicians counsel about weight loss?. Family medicine. 2011;43:179-184.  Abstract
  • Alexander, SC; Pollak, KI; Morgan, PA; Strand, J; Abernethy, AP; Jeffreys, AS; Arnold, RM; Olsen, M; Rodriguez, KL; Garrigues, SK; Manusov, JR; Tulsky, JA. How do non-physician clinicians respond to advanced cancer patients' negative expressions of emotions?. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2011;19:155-159.  Abstract
  • Cox, ME; Yancy, WS; Coffman, CJ; Ostbye, T; Tulsky, JA; Alexander, SC; Brouwer, RJ; Dolor, RJ; Pollak, KI. Effects of counseling techniques on patients' weight-related attitudes and behaviors in a primary care clinic. Patient Education and Counseling. 2011;85:363-368.  Abstract
  • Pollak, KI; Coffman, CJ; Alexander, SC; Manusov, JR; Ostbye, T; Tulsky, JA; Lyna, P; Esoimeme, I; Brouwer, RJ; Dolor, RJ. Predictors of weight loss communication in primary care encounters. Patient Education and Counseling. 2011;85:e175-e182.  Abstract
  • Casarett, D; Pickard, A; Fishman, JM; Alexander, SC; Arnold, RM; Pollak, KI; Tulsky, JA. Can metaphors and analogies improve communication with seriously ill patients?. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2010;13:255-260.  Abstract
  • Dolor, RJ; Østbye, T; Lyna, P; Coffman, CJ; Alexander, SC; Tulsky, JA; Brouwer, RJ; Esoimeme, I; Pollak, KI. What are physicians' and patients' beliefs about diet, weight, exercise, and smoking cessation counseling?. Preventive Medicine. 2010;51:440-442.  Abstract
  • Mohan, D; Alexander, SC; Garrigues, SK; Arnold, RM; Barnato, AE. Communication practices in physician decision-making for an unstable critically ill patient with end-stage cancer. Journal of Palliative Medicine. 2010;13:949-956.  Abstract
  • Pollak, KI; Alexander, SC; Grambow, SC; Tulsky, JA. Oncologist patient-centered communication with patients with advanced cancer: exploring whether race or socioeconomic status matter. Palliative Medicine. 2010;24:96-98.  Abstract
  • Rodriguez, KL; Bayliss, N; Alexander, SC; Jeffreys, AS; Olsen, MK; Pollak, KI; Kennifer, SL; Tulsky, JA; Arnold, RM. How oncologists and their patients with advanced cancer communicate about health-related quality of life. Psycho-Oncology: journal of the psychological, social and behavioral dimensions of cancer. 2010;19:490-499.  Abstract
  • Kennifer, SL; Alexander, SC; Pollak, KI; Jeffreys, AS; Olsen, MK; Rodriguez, KL; Arnold, RM; Tulsky, JA. Negative emotions in cancer care: do oncologists' responses depend on severity and type of emotion?. Patient Education and Counseling. 2009;76:51-56.  Abstract
  • Pollak, KI; Alexander, SC; Østbye, T; Lyna, P; Tulsky, JA; Dolor, RJ; Coffman, C; Namenek Brouwer, RJ; Esoimeme, I; Manusov, JR; Bravender, T. Primary care physicians' discussions of weight-related topics with overweight and obese adolescents: results from the Teen CHAT Pilot study. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2009;45:205-207.  Abstract
  • Steinhauser, KE; Alexander, SC; Byock, IR; George, LK; Tulsky, JA. Seriously ill patients' discussions of preparation and life completion: an intervention to assist with transition at the end of life. Palliative and Supportive Care. 2009;7:393-404.  Abstract
  • Robinson, TM; Alexander, SC; Hays, M; Jeffreys, AS; Olsen, MK; Rodriguez, KL; Pollak, KI; Abernethy, AP; Arnold, R; Tulsky, JA. Patient-oncologist communication in advanced cancer: predictors of patient perception of prognosis. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2008;16:1049-1057.  Abstract
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