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


Blumenthal-Barby, Jennifer S., Amy L. McGuire, Robert C. Green, and Peter A. Ubel. “How behavioral economics can help to avoid 'The last mile problem' in whole genome sequencing..” Genome Medicine 7, no. 1 (January 22, 2015).

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Liu, Peggy J., James R. Bettman, Arianna R. Uhalde, and Peter A. Ubel. “'How many calories are in my burrito?' Improving consumers' understanding of energy (calorie) range information..” Public Health Nutrition 18, no. 1 (January 2015): 15–24.

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LeBlanc, Thomas W., Catherine T. Bloom, Debra M. Davis, Susan C. Locke, Karen E. Steinhauser, Peter A. Ubel, James A. Tulsky, and Amy P. Abernethy. “Prognostic Disclosure in Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML): A Qualitative Study of Patient Preferences and Physician Practices.” Blood 124, no. 21 (December 6, 2014).


Ubel, Peter A. “Transplantation traffic--geography as destiny for transplant candidates..” The New England Journal of Medicine 371, no. 26 (December 2014): 2450–52.

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Blumenthal-Barby, J. S., Amy L. McGuire, and Peter A. Ubel. “Why information alone is not enough: behavioral economics and the future of genomic medicine..” Annals of Internal Medicine 161, no. 8 (October 2014): 605–6.

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Van Nimwegen, Lena, Christel Rushing, Fumiko Ladd Chino, Greg Samsa, Ivy Altomare, James A. Tulsky, Peter A. Ubel, et al. “Does cancer treatment-related financial distress worsen over time?.” In Journal of Clinical Oncology, 32:6559–6559. American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), 2014.

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