Peter A Ubel, MD

Professor of Business Administration
Madge and Dennis T. McLawhorn University Professor
Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy
Professor of Medicine
Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society
Member of the Duke Cancer Institute
Campus mail 100 Fuqua Dr, Box 90120, Room W309, Durham, NC 27708-0120
Phone (919) 660-8003
Email address

I am a physician and behavioral scientist at Duke University. My research and writing explores the quirks in human nature that influence our lives — the mixture of rational and irrational forces that affect our health, our happiness and the way our society functions. (What fun would it be to tackle just the easy problems?)

I am currently exploring controversial issues about the role of values and preferences in health care decision making, from decisions at the bedside to policy decisions. I use the tools of decision psychology and behavioral economics to explore topics like informed consent, shared decision making and health care spending. My books include Pricing Life (MIT Press 2000) and Free Market Madness (Harvard Business Press, 2009). My newest book, Critical Decisions (HarperCollins), came out in September of 2012, and explores the challenges of shared decision making between doctors and patients.

Education and Training

  • M.D., University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 1988
  • B.A., Carleton College, 1984


Hunter, Wynn G., Ashley Hesson, J Kelly Davis, Christine Kirby, Lillie D. Williamson, Jamison A. Barnett, and Peter A. Ubel. “Patient-physician discussions about costs: definitions and impact on cost conversation incidence estimates..” Bmc Health Services Research 16 (March 31, 2016).

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Emanuel, Ezekiel J., Peter A. Ubel, Judd B. Kessler, Gregg Meyer, Ralph W. Muller, Amol S. Navathe, Pankaj Patel, et al. “Using Behavioral Economics to Design Physician Incentives That Deliver High-Value Care..” Annals of Internal Medicine 164, no. 2 (January 2016): 114–19.

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Holmes-Rovner, Margaret, Jeffrey S. Montgomery, David R. Rovner, Laura D. Scherer, Jesse Whitfield, Valerie C. Kahn, Edgar C. Merkle, Peter A. Ubel, and Angela Fagerlin. “Informed Decision Making: Assessment of the Quality of Physician Communication about Prostate Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment..” Medical Decision Making : An International Journal of the Society for Medical Decision Making 35, no. 8 (November 2015): 999–1009.

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Henry, Stephen G., Danielle Czarnecki, Valerie C. Kahn, Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou, Angela Fagerlin, Peter A. Ubel, David R. Rovner, Stewart C. Alexander, Sara J. Knight, and Margaret Holmes-Rovner. “Patient-physician communication about early stage prostate cancer: analysis of overall visit structure..” Health Expect 18, no. 5 (October 2015): 1757–68.

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Zafar, S Yousuf, Fumiko Chino, Peter A. Ubel, Christel Rushing, Gregory Samsa, Ivy Altomare, Jonathan Nicolla, et al. “The utility of cost discussions between patients with cancer and oncologists..” Am J Manag Care 21, no. 9 (September 2015): 607–15.


Kong, Sek Won, In-Hee Lee, Ignaty Leshchiner, Joel Krier, Peter Kraft, Heidi L. Rehm, Robert C. Green, Isaac S. Kohane, Calum A. MacRae, and Calum A. MedSeq Project. “Summarizing polygenic risks for complex diseases in a clinical whole-genome report..” Genetics in Medicine : Official Journal of the American College of Medical Genetics 17, no. 7 (July 2015): 536–44.

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Ubel, Peter A. “Medical Facts versus Value Judgments--Toward Preference-Sensitive Guidelines..” The New England Journal of Medicine 372, no. 26 (June 2015): 2475–77.

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