Sally Stearns

Sally Clark Stearns, PhD

Department of Health Policy and Management
1104C McGavran-Greenberg Hall
CB #7411
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7411


Sally is a health economist whose research interests include comparative effectiveness research, economic evaluation, Medicare, nursing home use, nursing home staffing, and health care use at the end of life.  Her current research focuses on health outcomes and resource use for Medicare beneficiaries. She was the principal investigator for the Cardiovascular Outcomes Research Center, which was funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute from 2011-2016 as part of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Her teaching includes applied statistical analysis and research methods. She especially enjoys mentoring students in their research.

Prior experiences include a two-year post in Aberdeen, Scotland, from 2000-2002 where she contributed to “rapid reviews” for the United Kingdom’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE).  From 2011-2012 Sally served as a Senior Analyst at the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) in the Department of Health and Human Services as part of her experience as a Health and Aging Policy Fellow. Her work at ASPE included analysis of hospice utilization and reimbursement, Medicare physician group formation, and care by hospitalists. Sally is currently serving as a Senior Advisor at ASPE in supporting review of proposals submitted to the Physician-Focused Payment Model Technical Advisory Committee (PTAC). Sally also currently serves as the editor-in-chief of Health Economics, a journal published by Wiley Online Library that is described at:

Honors and Awards

Health and Aging Policy Fellowship
2011, Department of Health and Human Services

Research Activities

  • Health Economics
  • Applied Statistical Methods
  • Health Service Reimbursement Systems
  • Cost-effectiveness Analysis
  • Use of Health Services at the End of Life

Key Publications

Medication Adherence Based on Part D Claims for Heart Failure Patients after Hospitalization from the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study. Sueta, CA, JE Rodgers, PP Chang, L Zhou, EM Thudium, AM Kucharska-Newton, SC Stearns. (2015). American Journal of Cardiology, 116: 413-419.

Assessing Medicare Part D Claim Completeness Using Medication Self-reports: The Role of Veteran Status and Generic Drug Discount Programs. Zhou, L, SC Stearns, EM Thudium, KA Alburikan, JE Rodgers.  (2015). Medical Care, 53(5), 463–470.

Use of Hospitalists by Medicare Beneficiaries: A National Picture. Welch, WP, SC Stearns, AE Cuellar, AB Bindman. (2014). Medicare and Medicaid Research & Review, 4(2), E1–E8.

A Randomized Trial Exploring the Effect of Telephone Call Follow-up on Care Plan Compliance Among Older Adults Discharged Home from the Emergency Department. Biese, K, M LaMantia, F Shofer, B McCall, E Roberts, SC Stearns, S Principe, JS Kizer, CB Cairns, and J Busby-Whitehead. (2014). Academic Emergency Medicine, 21(2), 188-195.

Explaining Variation in Hospice Visit Intensity for Routine Home Care. Stearns, SC, S Sheingold, RB Zuckerman. (2014). Medical Care, 52: 56-62.


  • BA, Economics, University of Michigan, 1977
  • MSc, Economics, London School of Economics, 1979
  • PhD, Economics, University of Wisconsin, 1987