Renowned Behavioral Scientist Robert Kaplan Receives 2020 Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award

Robert Kaplan, PhDRobert Kaplan, PhD, a renowned authority in healthcare and health services research today was awarded the 2020 Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award. Kaplan is currently a faculty member at the Stanford School of Medicine, Clinical Excellence Research Center.

This year’s award was presented virtually to Kaplan at the annual meeting of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE). Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency, SOPHE made the decision to hold this year’s annual conference virtually. The CDC Foundation with the James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation honored Kaplan for his research that has fundamentally changed the conceptualization and measurement of health outcomes.

The Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award, first presented in 1992, recognizes a health educator who has made a substantial contribution to advancing the field of health education or health promotion through research, program development or program delivery.

“Dr. Kaplan’s focus on improving the quality, efficacy and safety of healthcare, has left an enduring mark on public health and health education,” said Lawrence Green, DrPH, ScD (Hon), Chair, James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation Board of Directors. “We are grateful for his research and commitment for longer, healthier living and honored to present him with the Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award.”

Kaplan is best known for his work on the development of patient reported outcome measures. In support of this work, Kaplan developed a measurement strategy for estimating health outcomes for Quality Adjusted Life Years calculations and developed methods for cost/utility analyses. The Quality Adjusted Life Years concept and related measures are now part of the vocabulary in medicine and health care.

In addition, to his work on measurement, Kaplan has contributed to a variety of influential clinical trials. Over 35 years ago, he was a principal investigator on some of the first randomized trials to demonstrate the value of diet and exercise interventions for people with type 2 diabetes. Another trial that demonstrated the value of exercise for patients with COPD, serves as the basis for contemporary rehabilitation programs for COPD patients.

Kaplan served as the former associate director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) leading the Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research during the Obama administration and a former chief science officer for the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Kaplan is the author of “More than Medicine: The Broken Promise of American Health."

In addition to his Stanford appointment, Kaplan is a Distinguished Research Professor of Health Policy and Management at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Fielding School of Public Health, where he led the UCLA/RAND AHRQ health services training program and the UCLA/RAND CDC Prevention Research Center. He was chair of the Department of Health Services from 2004 to 2009. From 1997 to 2004 he was professor and chair of the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

He is a past president of several organizations, including the American Psychological Association Division of Health Psychology, Section J of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (Pacific), the International Society for Quality of Life Research, the Society for Behavioral Medicine, and the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research.

Kaplan is a former editor-in-chief of the American Psychological Association journal Health Psychology and of the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. His 20 books and over 550 articles or chapters have been cited more than 55,000 times and Google Scholar includes him in the listing of the most cited authors in all fields of science (H Index greater than 100).

Kaplan has received lifetime achievement awards from several organizations, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine, the International Society for Quality of Life Research, and the American Psychological Association, Division of Health Psychology. Kaplan is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine).

The Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award was named in memory of Elizabeth Fries, who was a professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University and co-director of the Massey Cancer Center Outreach Program. She made many important contributions to program development, implementation and evaluation. The Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award recipients receive a $25,000 prize. The award and lecture have been presented annually at the SOPHE conference, which draws approximately 900 health education researchers, faculty, practitioners and students for the latest research and practice in health education. Founded in 1950, SOPHE’s mission is to provide global leadership in health promotion and to promote the health of society.

The James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation is a nonprofit corporation incorporated in 1991. The mission of the Foundation is to identify and honor individuals, organizations or institutions that have made great contributions to the health of the public. The Foundation seeks to reward accomplishment rather than promise, practicality rather than theory.

The CDC Foundation is honored to partner with the James F. and Sarah T. Fries Foundation, which established and funds the award. As of 2016, the CDC Foundation manages and administers the Fries Foundation’s public health award programs, which include the Fries Prize for Improving Health and the Elizabeth Fries Health Education Award.