Research Expertise & Professional Interests
Jack A. Clark, PhD, is a medical sociologist interested in how people, as members of society, look after their health and the health of others, including their actions as users and providers of health care. Health, health problems, and remedies are constituted in social relations; they reflect habits, knowledge, and capabilities people have as members of society. Health services are patterns of these social relations. Thus, he conducts research in how people live with chronic diseases, use formal and informal health services, communicate with physicians and other providers of services, reach treatment decisions, and perceive the outcomes of health care. He has studied patients' decisions to persevere or withdraw from antiviral treatment for hepatitis C, the operations and effectiveness of patient navigation programs designed to facilitate access to cancer care and reduce social and economic disparities, and social interactions in recovery-oriented mental health groups and the work of peer mental health counselors, among other topics. He has mentored VA and BU medical faculty members in their research on clinical communication affecting HPV vaccination decisions and shared decision making in the management of incidental pulmonary nodules. He has long been involved in research in cancer care. His research has helped to define patient centered, psychosocial outcomes of treatment decisions for prostate cancer. He has developed patient-based measures to monitor changes in bodily function, the psychosocial effects of bodily dysfunction, and quality of life after a diagnosis of cancer. His studies typically seek to integrate quantitative and qualitative methods. He currently teaches three courses. PM 826 critically examines patient-centered medical care by addressing patients' illness perceptions, use of health services, communication with clinicians, and outcomes of care as they relate to the social contexts of medical practices and patients’ lives. PM 864 is an introduction to the contemporary structure of health services. PM 866 is an introduction to social theory in explaining the evolution of health services, their organization, and their effectiveness with respect to the populations they may serve. From its founding in 1990 until his retirement from the Department of Veterans Affairs in 2017, he was a member of the research faculty of the Center for Health Quality, Outcomes, and Economic Research at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford, MA.