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Joanna V. Brooks, M.A., MBE, Ph.D.

Joanna Brooks portrait
Program Director, Master of Health Services Administration, Population Health

Associate Professor, Population Health

Professional Background

I am a medical sociologist and health services researcher with specific expertise in qualitative methodologies, palliative care, and health care workforce and delivery. After completing my PhD in Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, I completed a postdoc as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at Harvard University, where I trained in an interdisciplinary environment with scholars studying innovative approaches to health care, medical education, primary care, and health care teams. Cross-trained in both pure social science and interdisciplinary environments, I am committed to using my theoretical knowledge and training as a social scientist in order to understand complex problems in health care, especially those that evade simple answers.

Education and Training
  • PhD, Sociology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • MA, Bioethics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • BA, Sociology and Philosophy, Furman University, Greenville, SC
  • Post Doctoral Fellowship, Health Policy, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts



My background is in medical sociology and bioethics and my research focuses on health care workforce and health care delivery. I study the socialization of medical professionals and medical education, teamwork and culture in health care, and patient experiences navigating the role of being a patient with cancer. I was part of a qualitative team that examined the impact—and unintended consequences—of duty hours restrictions for surgical residents, funded by the VA and NHLBI. Through an AHRQ-funded research project to study surgical safety, I was on a qualitative team that collected over 300 interviews across 16 hospitals and sought to understand the social and organizational context around differential success of safety interventions.

I recently served as the PI on an ACS IRG-funded project to examine barriers to earlier palliative care referral and cultural perceptions about palliative care among patients with cancer and their caregivers. As I led this project and conducted the qualitative primary data collection, I developed key relationships with clinical partners in our outpatient palliative care setting and our team successfully analyzed and published our results. Our data showed the important role palliative care is playing not only to manage symptoms for patients but also in providing holistic care at a critical time when patients are experiencing being reduced to their lab numbers by other clinicians.

  • Spoozak, L, Wulff-Burchfield, E, Brooks, J., V. 2020. Rallying Cry From the Place in Between.. JCO Oncology Practice
  • Brooks, J., V, Sheridan, B, Peters, A., S, Chien, A., T, Singer, S., J. 2020. Working around hierarchy: Resident and medical assistant teaming.. Health care management review, 45 (3), 232-244
  • Dwyer, Meagan, Brooks, Joanna, Katz, Hannah, Alt, Marcus, Poje, Buddy. 2021. Burnout and Compassion Satisfaction: Survey Findings of Healthcare Employee Wellness During COVID-19 Pandemic using ProQOL. Kansas Journal of Medicine, 14
  • Brooks, J., V, Poague, C, Formagini, T, Sinclair, C., T, Nelson-Brantley, H., V. 2020. The Role of a Symptom Assessment Tool in Shaping Patient-Physician Communication in Palliative Care.. Journal of pain and symptom management, 59 (1), 30-38
  • Brooks, J., V, Poague, C, Formagini, T, Roberts, A., W, Sinclair, C., T, Keirns, C., C. 2020. Palliative Care's Role Managing Cancer Pain During the Opioid Crisis: A Qualitative Study of Patients, Caregivers, and Clinicians.. Journal of pain and symptom management, 60 (6), 1127-1135.e2