Cheryl R. Clark, MD, ScD

2014 DICP Faculty Fellowship RecipientACULTY FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENT

CHERYL R. CLARK, MD, ScD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Director, Health Equity Research & Intervention, Center for Community Health and Health Equity Hospitalist, Division of General Medicine & Primary Care, Brigham and Women's/Faulkner Hospitals

Mentor: Jennifer Hass, MD, MSPH, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Professor of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health; Associate Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital

Department Chair: David W. Bates, MD, MSc, Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Chief Quality Officer and Senior Vice President, Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine and Primary Care, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Project Title: "Addressing Social Disparities in Adult Weight Management in Primary Care Settings: Measuring and Managing Stress"

Project Description:

Disparities in overweight and obesity are closely related to social determinants of health, which affect the contextual and psychological resources patients rely on to sustain healthy behaviors. Primary care patients who are economically disadvantaged are vulnerable groups who suffer high levels of stress, and are at high risk of having behaviors and chronic conditions associated with overweight and obesity. Innovative approaches are needed in primary care, which directly intervene on stressors associated with economic disadvantage, to reduce disparities in vulnerable groups.

Emerging data show that reducing stress may improve weight loss in stressed patients as a part of comprehensive lifestyle counseling. However, it is not known which strategies for stress management are most effective to co-manage stress, short-term weight loss, and long-term weight maintenance in economically disadvantaged patients.

Under the mentorship of Dr. Jennifer Haas, the initial fellowship activities will focus on developing recruitment strategies, enrollment tools, and identification of intermediate outcomes (process) measurement tools to measure change in (1) perceived stress, (2) short-term weight loss, and (3) long term weight maintenance, in a randomized comparative effectiveness study that compares two stress reduction interventions. The goals of the second six months of the fellowship will include pilot testing of intervention tools to provide preliminary data on (1) recruitment tools and (2) process measurement. These activities will lead to the development and submission of a randomized comparative effectiveness trial testing stress reduction strategies on weight management. We will submit our proposal to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), and other agencies.


Cheryl Clark MD, ScD, is a Hospitalist and researcher in Brigham and Women’s Hospital Division of General Medicine and Primary Care, and Director of Health Equity Research & Intervention in the Center for Community Health and Health Equity at the BWH. 

Dr. Clark’s research focuses on social determinants of healthy aging and racial and ethnic disparities in health care utilization in aging populations. She is the principal investigator of an award from the National Institutes of Aging to understand the social determinants of cardiometabolic factors in aging populations.  Dr. Clark has found that there is geographic variation in early risk factors for atherosclerosis among middle-aged and elderly women in the Women’s Health Study. Dr. Clark is currently investigating social determinants of cardiometabolic risks in midlife and aging populations; and also has expertise in community based participatory research methods in application to cancer screening behaviors in middle-aged and elderly African American populations.

Dr. Clark is currently a member of the Massachusetts Advisory Council to the Health Policy Commission, where she advises the Council on health disparities related to cost containment efforts in Massachusetts. She is the recipient of the 2006 Brigham and Women’s Minority Career Development Award, the 2006 Golden Stethoscope Award for excellence in teaching, the 2009 H. Richard Nesson Fellowship in Community Health, the 2010 REACH partner award, and the 2014-2016 Kaiser Permanente Burch Minority Leadership Award.