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Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

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Joshua Thorpe, PhD, MPH

Picture of Joshua M. Thrope

CHERP COIN Investigator

Associate Professor in the Eshelman School of Pharmacy at the University of North Carolina


CHERP Core Investigator Joshua M. Thorpe, PhD, MPH, is also an tenured Associate Professor in the Division of Pharmaceutical Outcomes and Policy, Eshelman School of Pharmacy, University of North Carolina, healthcare scientist in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and Director of Analytics and Research in the VA's National Center for End-of-Life Care. He is the Principal Investigator (PI) or Co-Investigator (Co-I) on NIH-funded studies including appropriate medication use and prescription safety, regulating licensed nursing practice in nursing homes, and disparities in healthy behaviors and preventive health behaviors in older adults with responsibilities for elder care. His research aims to reduce disparities in access to care, and provide evidence on the comparative effectiveness of various treatment options and management strategies for complex older patients managing multiple medical conditions.

Dr. Thorpe leads VA-funded research:

Outpatient Palliative Care and Prescribing Safety and Quality at End-of-Life

Dr. Thorpe's research, teaching, and service activities are shaped by three overlapping themes in geriatric care and pharmaceutical policy and outcomes research: (1) assessing the impact of pharmaceutical policy on medication safety and quality in vulnerable populations, (2) conducting pharmacoepidemiologic research on the safety and effectiveness of medications in people who are excluded from clinical trials such as dementia patients and patients nearing end-of-life; (3) understanding the critical roles played by family caregivers in facilitating high-quality medication use and medical care in dependent older adults, and (4) understanding racial/ethnic and urban/rural disparities in access and appropriate use of medications and outpatient services. Methodologically, Dr. Thorpe uses machine-learning, latent variable models, and secondary data analysis methods to improve our understanding of prescribing and medication use behaviors and health outcomes. Dr. Thorpe also serves as lead psychometrician for the VA's National Center for End-of-Life Care where he leads the development and evaluation of measures to evaluate quality of end-of-life care. Dr. Thorpe has been continuously funded for over 15 years by the VA, NIH, and Foundation grants. His laboratory uses a wide range of "big data" databases including: Medicare outpatient, inpatient, and prescription claims, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, CDC's National Ambulatory & Hospital healthcare data, AHRQ's Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project inpatient and emergency room data, and Veteran Affairs healthcare utilization and outcomes data. Dr. Thorpe has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles and government reports. He was the recipient of the national VA's 2018 Best Research Paper of the Year Award for his article published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, "Dual Health Care System Use and High-Risk Prescribing in Patients with Dementia." He also received the 2018 Excellence in Government Award for Outstanding Contribution to Science (Medical), and the 2018 Rho Chi Society (Honor society for pharmacy students).

Dr. Thorpe's teaching and mentoring interests are in three main areas: (1) mentoring graduate students and post-doctoral fellows on their journey to expert; (2) enhancing the scientific skills of pharmacists, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows by providing high-quality methodological training in the areas in "big data" analytics, comparative effectiveness, pharmacoepidemiology, and health services research; (3) raising awareness of pharmacists about the needs of the communities in which they practice, and challenging future pharmacists to play a greater role in efforts to reduce disparities and improve public health. Dr. Thorpe co-teaches the advanced methods course in DPOP PhD program and co-teaches the evidence-based medicine course in the professional program. Dr. Thorpe is a highly active research mentor, having mentored of trainees from a range of disciplines including medicine, surgery, nursing, pharmacy, and dentistry. Dr. Thorpe's mentees have gone on to successful careers in academia, industry, and the government; with several mentees receiving recognition at local and national meetings. He has served as mentor or co-mentor to 15 PhD students, 5 pharmacy residents, 6 post-doctoral fellows, and 5 pharmacy honors students.

Dr. Thorpe's service to the discipline of pharmaceutical outcomes and policy includes permanent membership on the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality's Healthcare Safety and Quality Improvement Research study section, a former Associate Editor for the journal, "Research and Social & Administrative Pharmacy (RSAP), current Editorial Board member for the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, and as a member of the VA's national advisory board on "big data" use.

Research Areas
Disparity in health behaviors

Funded Research