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Leslie Curry, PhD, MPH

Professor of Public Health (Health Policy) and Professor of Management; Affiliated Faculty, Yale Institute for Global Health; Lecturer, Yale College; Associate Director Yale Scholars in Implementation Science Training Program

Contact Information

Leslie Curry, PhD, MPH

Office Location

Mailing Address

  • Health Policy & Management

    PO Box 208034, 60 College Street

    New Haven, CT 06520-8034

    United States

Research Summary

Dr. Curry’s research focuses on organizational culture, leadership, management and performance in health care systems in the US and internationally. She is an internationally recognized expert in the use of qualitative and mixed methods in public health and health services research. Dr. Curry has two decades of experience in health policy and program implementation and evaluation in collaboration with government agencies and policymakers with a primary objective of informing the development and scale up of innovative health programs and policy.

She serves on a number of editorial boards including the Journal of Mixed Methods, is a fellow in the Gerontological Society of America, and a member of Academy Health. She is also an elected member of AcademyHealth Methods Council and served as a Board Member of the Mixed Methods International Research Association.

Specialized Terms: Organizational culture and performance; Scale up of innovations; Social and health care spending

Extensive Research Description

Research interests include:

1. I served as lead investigator for the first qualitative study demonstrating the importance of hospital organizational culture in performance in a clinical outcome, acute myocardial infarction (AMI) mortality. The paper drew international attention with more than 36,850 hits on the Annals of Internal Medicine website, and more than 40 news stories nationally. It was foundational to the first prospective longitudinal intervention study directed at influencing organizational culture in hospitals (Leadership Saves Lives, Curry, PI) with the goal of improving evidence-based practices and outcomes for patients hospitalized with AMI. I am multiple PI on an NIH R01 funded study testing an intervention aimed at mitigating structural racism to reduce inequities in sepsis outcomes.

a. Curry, L. A., Spatz, E., Cherlin, E., Thompson, J. W., Berg, D., Ting, H. H., Decker, C., Krumholz, H. M., & Bradley, E. H. (2011). What distinguishes top-performing hospitals in acute myocardial infarction mortality rates? A qualitative study. Annals of Internal Medicine, 154(6), 384–390. PMICID: PMC4735872.

b. Curry, L. A., Brault, M. A., Linnander, E. L., McNatt, Z., Brewster, A. L., Cherlin, E., Flieger, S. P., Ting, H. H., & Bradley, E. H. (2018). Influencing organisational culture to improve hospital performance in care of patients with acute myocardial infarction: a mixed-methods intervention study. BMJ Quality & Safety, 27(3), 207–217. PMCID: PMC5867431.

c. Curry, L.A., Ayedun, A., Cherlin, E.J., Allen, N., & Linnander, E.L. (2020). Leadership development in complex systems: The Yale and NHS England experience. BMJ Open.

d. Linnander, E. L., Ayedun, A., Boatright, D., Ackerman-Barger, K., Morgenthaler, T. I., Ray, N., Roy, B., Simpson, S., & Curry, L. A. (2022). Mitigating structural racism to reduce inequities in sepsis outcomes: a mixed methods, longitudinal intervention study. BMC Health Services Research, 22(1), 975. PMCID: PMC9338573.

    2. Together with colleagues Elizabeth Bradley and Harlan Krumholz, I collaborated in the development and application of a positive deviance approach to improving health outcomes. The positive deviance approach addresses limitations of biomedical, epidemiological, quality improvement and action research combining intensive organizational-level examination using qualitative methods with the broader-scale statistical analysis possible with a large sample of organizations. This approach takes advantage of natural variation in performance, develops an evidence base through detailed organizational analysis and statistical testing of hypotheses, and supports collaboration between researcher and practitioner in ways that identify feasible solutions and foster support for dissemination and uptake of recommendations. Our paper in Implementation Science is classified as “highly accessed”; we have since applied this method in multiple studies.

    Bradley, E. H., Curry, L. A., Ramanadhan, S., Rowe, L., Nembhard, I. M., & Krumholz, H. M. (2009). Research in action: using positive deviance to improve quality of health care. Implementation Science, 4, 25. PMCID: PMC2690576.

    Krumholz, H. M., Curry, L. A., & Bradley, E. H. (2011). Survival after acute myocardial infarction (SAMI) study: the design and implementation of a positive deviance study. American Heart Journal, 162(6), 981–987.e9. PMCID: PMC3688068.

    Bradley, E. H., Byam, P., Alpern, R., Thompson, J. W., Zerihun, A., Abebe, Y., & Curry, L. A. (2012). A systems approach to improving rural care in Ethiopia. PloS One, 7(4), e35042. PMCID: PMC3338815.

    Brewster, A. L., Brault, M. A., Tan, A. X., Curry, L. A., & Bradley, E. H. (2018). Patterns of collaboration among health care and social services providers in communities with lower health care utilization and costs. Health Services Research, 53 Suppl 1(Suppl Suppl 1), 2892–2909. PMCID: PMC6056597.

      3. I am an internationally recognized expertise in qualitative and mixed methods in health sciences. My expertise includes: 1) lead author on qualitative and mixed methods textbooks commissioned by Sage Publications (2014) and the American Public Health Association (2006); 2) elected member of 9-person governing board of the Mixed Methods International Research Association; 3) member of an advisory committee appointed by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research at the National Institutes of Health charged with defining best practices in mixed methods research; 4) co-PI on a series of grants awarded by the National Institute on Aging, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the John A Hartford Foundation designed to enhance the rigor and credibility of qualitative and mixed methods in health research; 5) ad hoc reviewer on the Health Services, Organization and Delivery study section for qualitative and mixed methods proposals; 6) regularly invited speaker in national and international settings, including as the keynote address at the International Conference on Mixed Methods in Harrogate, UK (2009); and 7) editorial board member and regular reviewer for top tier peer-reviewed journals.

      a. Curry, L. & Nunez-Smith, M. (2014). Mixed Methods in Health Sciences Research. Sage Publications; Thousand Oaks, CA.

      b. Curry, L. A., Krumholz, H. M., O'Cathain, A., Plano Clark, V. L., Cherlin, E., & Bradley, E. H. (2013). Mixed methods in biomedical and health services research. Circulation. Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, 6(1), 119–123. PMCID: PMC3569711.

      c. Bradley, E. H., Curry, L. A., & Devers, K. J. (2007). Qualitative data analysis for health services research: developing taxonomy, themes, and theory. Health Services Research, 42(4), 1758–1772. PMCID: PMC1955280.

      d. Creswell, J.W., Klassen, A., Clark V., Smith, K., & the Mixed Methods Research Working Group. (2011). Best practices for mixed methods research in health sciences. Prepared for: Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR), National Institutes of Health.

        4. I have more than 20 years of experience evaluating complex health care financing and delivery programs and interventions in the US and internationally. Illustrative policies, programs and interventions include: The Partnership for Long Term Care Insurance, Money Follows the Person Rebalancing Program, Senior Care Options Program, The Patient Self Determination Act. Recent projects include Project Last Mile, a multi-country effort to translate the supply chain and logistics expertise of the Coca-Cola system to public sector medical supply chain organizations across Africa, and a realist evaluation of the Mesoamerica Salud Mesoamerica Initiative (SMI), a large-scale,multi-country program that uses supply-side financial incentives and evaluation of public, health sector performance to induce improvements in primary care performance in eight low and middle-income countries.

        a. Linnander, E., Yuan, C. T., Ahmed, S., Cherlin, E., Talbert-Slagle, K., & Curry, L. A. (2017). Process evaluation of knowledge transfer across industries: Leveraging Coca-Cola's supply chain expertise for medicine availability in Tanzania. PloS One, 12(11), e0186832. PMCID: PMC5679563.

        b. Curry, L. A., Byam, P., Linnander, E., Andersson, K. M., Abebe, Y., Zerihun, A., Thompson, J. W., & Bradley, E. H. (2013). Evaluation of the Ethiopian Millennium Rural Initiative: Impact on mortality and cost-effectiveness. PloS One, 8(11), e79847. PMCID: PMC3832618.

        c. Munar, W., Wahid, S. S., & Curry, L. (2018). Characterizing performance improvement in primary care systems in Mesoamerica: A realist evaluation protocol. Gates Open Research, 2, 1. PMCID: PMC5801599.

        d. Bernstein, S. L., Weiss, J., & Curry, L. (2020). Visualizing implementation: contextual and organizational support mapping of stakeholders (COSMOS). Implementation Science Communications, 1, 48. PMCID: PMC7427961.

          5. Increasing evidence demonstrates that services supporting social determinants of health can improve health and reduce health care costs for older adults, particularly older adults with complex health care needs. As part of a multidisciplinary team at Yale, our recent work focuses on the structure and nature of relationships among service providers in the health care and social service sectors. Outcomes of interest include hospital readmissions, avoidable nursing home use, and costs. Current work investigates the role of Area Agencies on Aging as a mechanism for cross-sector partnerships in high-performing communities.

          1. Curry, L., Cherlin, E., Ayedun, A., Rubeo, C., Straker, J., Wilson, T. L., & Brewster, A. (2022). How do area agencies on aging build partnerships with health care organizations? The Gerontologist, gnac019. PMID: 35092437.
          2. Brewster, A. L., Kunkel, S., Straker, J., & Curry, L. A. (2018). Cross-sectoral partnerships by area agencies on aging: associations with health care use and spending. Health Affairs (Project Hope), 37(1), 15–21. PMID: 29309226.
          3. Brewster, A. L., Yuan, C. T., Tan, A. X., Tangoren, C. G., & Curry, L. A. (2019). Collaboration in health care and social service networks for older adults: association with health care utilization measures. Medical Care, 57(5), 327–333. PMID: 30908380.
          4. Taylor, L. A., Tan, A. X., Coyle, C. E., Ndumele, C., Rogan, E., Canavan, M., Curry, L. A., & Bradley, E. H. (2016). Leveraging the social determinants of health: what Works? PloS One, 11(8), e0160217. PMCID: PMC4988629.

          Illustrative projects:

          Effective Partnership Strategies in Area Agencies on Aging to Improve Health Outcomes

          Leadership Save Lives, Culture Change in US Hospitals to Improve Performance in AMI Care, The Medicines Company

          Diffusion, Dissemination, and Widespread Take Up: What Works? Gates Foundation

          All-Cause Hospital Readmission Rates for Patients with Heart Failure and Acute Myocardial Infarction: What Hospital Practices Make a Difference and How Are They Adopted? Commonwealth Fund

          Ethiopian Millennium Rural Initiative External Evaluation, Clinton Health Access Initiative and Children's Investment Fund Foundation

          Strategies for Reducing Mortality after Acute Myocardial Infarction Evidence-Based Approaches to Improving Quality, AHRQ and United Health Care Foundation


          Research Interests

          Health Policy; Public Health; Quality of Health Care; Social Sciences; Global Health; Health Care

          Public Health Interests

          Global Health; Health Care Quality, Efficiency; Health Care Management; Health Policy; Substance Use, Addiction; Health Systems Reform

          Research Images

          Selected Publications