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Catherine Pollak

2022–23 French Harkness Fellow; Senior Health Economist at the Direction for Research, Studies, Evaluation, and Statistics (DREES) at the Ministry of Health in France

Headshot of Catherine Pollak

Placement: New York University Grossman School of Medicine

Mentors: Andrea Troxel, Sc.D., Professor, Department of Population Health and Director, Division of Biostatistics, New York University Grossman School of Medicine

Kevin Volpp, M.D., Ph.D., Mark V. Pauly President’s Distinguished Professor; Senior Fellow, The Leonard Davis Institute; Founding Director, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics (CHIBE); Health Policy Division Chief, Department of Medical Ethics and Policy, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Project: The Use of Behavioral Nudges to Encourage Appropriateness in Prescriptions

Catherine Pollak, Ph.D., is a 2022–23 French Harkness Fellow in Health Care Policy and Practice. She is a senior health economist at the Direction for Research, Studies, Evaluation, and Statistics (DREES) at the Ministry of Health in France, where she heads the division in charge of leading research and policy on health insurance and access to care. Pollak has contributed to national reforms, including “100% Santé,” and the new public supplementary health insurance scheme, “Complémentaire santé solidaire.” She recently conducted the simulations of evolution scenarios for the public–private insurance mix for the High Council for the Future of Health Insurance (HCAAM). Pollak is an associate research fellow at Paris Dauphine University and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Research in Health Economics (IRDES). Her research covers a broad spectrum within policy design and evaluation, with a particular focus on health and sick leave insurance, aging, and income distribution. She has published more than 30 institutional and peer-review publications. Pollak received both her Ph.D. and master’s degree in economics from Panthéon-Sorbonne University.

Project Overview: Behavioral sciences attract increasing interest for their contribution to public policy. Numerous experiments of “nudges” in the field of public health reflect the potential for this type of intervention, which can bring about significant efficiency gains at low costs. The proposed study aims to highlight tangible elements of their scope and conditions for success for policymakers.

This research project analyzes randomized control trials (RCTs) that test the impact of nudges among physicians to promote appropriateness in prescriptions. The main objective is to address the conditions to implement RCTs of such nudges, their results, their capacity to promote long-lasting behavioral changes and to increase efficiency and equity in drug consumption, and the potential of data to improve current practices.

First, the research will provide an international literature review on RCTs aiming to improve the appropriateness in prescriptions. It will address the practical, technical, and ethical conditions to implement such trials, using interviews with stakeholders of these experiments in the U.S. Second, the research will provide a concrete example of an RCT.