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Ellen P. McCarthy, PhD, MPH

Research Concentrations


• Health Disparities
• Cancer Outcomes
• Palliative Care 

Contact Information

Email: emccarth@bidmc.harvard.edu

Professional Biography

View Dr. McCarthy's  CV (PDF)

View Dr. McCarthy's publication history at PubMed Author Search

View Dr. McCarthy's professional research networking profile at Harvard Catalyst

Dr. McCarthy is an epidemiologist and health services researcher with expertise using large administrative databases and national surveys to address healthcare issues. Her primary area of research interest is to investigate disparities in cancer across the continuum of care from secondary prevention to diagnosis, treatment and end of life. She is Principal Investigator of two Research Scholar Grants funded by the American Cancer Society targeted at poor and underserved populations. She is particularly interested in decision-making at the end of life care for the very elderly and patients with advanced cancer, and on how disparities in cancer screening and cancer care affect cancer outcomes in racial/ethnic minorities and other disadvantaged and vulnerable populations. Dr. McCarthy has also published studies describing determinants of mammography use in older women as well as the relationship between regular mammography use and breast cancer outcomes in older women. Dr. McCarthy was the recipient of the 2008 Harvard Medical School Young Mentor Award and the 2012 A. Clifford Barger Award for excellence in mentoring.

Current Research Support


RSGT-10-080-CPHPS, American Cancer Society, 2010-2013
Breast Cancer Screening in Older Women: Comorbidity and Competing Risks
The goal of this newly funded study is to assess the impact of advanced age and illness burden on breast cancer mortality using methods that account for competing mortality risks, and to construct a clinical prediction tool that will guide clinical discussions about the appropriateness of breast cancer screening for individual women, particularly those aged 75 and older.
Role: PI

RSGT-09-158-CPPB, American Cancer Society, 2009-2013
Asian Americans with Advanced Cancer: Preferences and Care Experiences
The goal of this project is to address major gaps in our understanding of how to better meet the healthcare needs of Asian Americans with advanced cancer, a historically understudied population.
Role: PI

RSGHP-08-141-01-CPHPS, American Cancer Society, 2008-2011
Primary Care and Cancer Outcomes Among Medicare Beneficiaries
The goal of this study is to assess the effects of primary medical care on cancer incidence, stage at diagnosis and mortality.
Role: Site PI

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Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications


1. Wachterman MW, Marcantonio ER, Davis RB, McCarthy EP. Association of hospice agency profit status with patient diagnosis, location of cancer, and length of stay. JAMA 2011;305(5):472-479.
2. Schonberg MA, Marcantonio ER, Ngo LH, Li D, Silliman RA, McCarthy EP. Causes of death and relative survival of older women after a breast cancer diagnosis. J Clin Oncol 2011;29(12):1570-7.
3. Smith AK, Earle CC, McCarthy EP.  Racial and ethnic differences in end-of-life care among fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries with advanced cancer. J Am Geriatr 2009;57(1):153-58.
4. McCarthy EP, Ngo LH, Roetzheim RG, Chirikos TN, Li D, Drews RE, Iezzoni LI. Disparities in breast cancer treatment and survival for women with disabilities. Ann Intern Med 2006;145;637-645.
5. McCarthy EP, Burns RB, Ngo-Metzger Q, Davis RB, Phillips RS. Hospice utilization among Medicare managed care and fee-for-service patients dying with cancer. JAMA 2003;289:2238-2245..