Pamela Duncan, PhD

Pamela Duncan, PhD, professor of neurology at Wake Forest School of Medicine, is a leading expert in stroke, neurologic recovery, aging and patient reported outcomes measures. She serves as senior policy advisor for innovations and transitional outcomes at Wake Forest, developing novel approaches to improve post-acute management of the elderly recovering from falls or stroke. Duncan is widely recognized for her efforts to reengineer post-acute care services and recovery following stroke.

Duncan, who has a professional degree in physical therapy from Columbia University, earned a master’s degree in education from University of North Carolina and a doctorate in epidemiology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before joining Wake Forest’s neurology faculty in 2011, Duncan was associate director of the Center for Clinical Health Policy Research at Duke University Medical Center, where she also served as professor of community and family medicine. In addition, from 2002- 2007 she was the director of the Brooks Center for Rehabilitation Studies, associate director of the Institute of Aging at the University of Florida and director of the Department of Veteran Affairs Rehabilitation Outcomes Research Center.

Duncan dedicates her clinical and research efforts to improving the trajectory of recovery for stroke survivors and individuals at risk of falls or functional decline. Her research focuses on evaluating best-evidence processes, interventions and outcomes for post-acute care services across the care continuum. She leads studies on stroke care and outcomes measures, falls prevention for the elderly and hospital readmissions related to functional decline, with continuous external funding from the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research, the American Heart Association and various pharmaceutical companies.

An expert in measure development, Duncan was instrumental in creating the Stroke Impact Scale, a patient-centered metric of stroke outcomes that captures self-reported cognitive, physical and social function. Now the standard tool used by the pharmaceutical industry to assess quality of life following clinical trials, the measure has been translated into more than 40 languages culturally and linguistically worldwide.

In addition, in 2013, Duncan was selected for the Roster of Fulbright Specialists to collaborate with university leaders globally to develop patient-centered care approaches to manage functional recovery of aging patients. Most recently, she was named principal investigator for a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) grant to implement a comprehensive post-acute stroke care model in collaboration with patients, coalitions and more than 50 hospitals in North Carolina. Duncan is developing patient reported outcome measures that will be administered at the point of care to reflect individual patient preferences for care, as well as functional, cognitive, social and emotional capabilities. Patient responses, coupled with provider assessments, will generate an individualized care plan to optimize the patient’s independence, recovery, and health. These assessments will guide real-time clinical decision-making and recommendations for self-management, medical and social services.

Duncan considers collaborative partnerships that extend beyond traditional, siloed research models critical for advancing health care delivery. She is particularly interested in working with industry to develop consumer-oriented technology interfaces that capture patient outcome measures and engagement in real time, with the ultimate goal of creating innovative, turnkey systems that meaningfully impact patient care.

Pamela Duncan, PhD, professor of neurology and expert in stroke recovery and post-acute care, has more than 30 years of experience in:

  • Stroke
  • Neurologic recovery
  • Post-acute care management
  • Aging
  • Functional decline
  • Falls prevention
  • Rehabilitation
  • Health outcomes research and measure development
  • Evidence based models of practice
  • Clinical trials
  • Health policy
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