Alison  Buttenheim, PhD

Alison Buttenheim, PhD

University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing

Professor & Scientific Director, Center for Health Incentives and Behavioral Economics

Expertise: vaccincesVaccine hesitancyCOVID -19Social DisparitiesHealth DisparitiesHIVHiv TreatmentHIV carebehavioral health economics

Using insights from behavioral economics and related disciplines, Dr. Buttenheim designs and trials interventions to change behaviors that are central to infectious disease prevention. Her work spans Chagas disease prevention campaigns in Peru and HIV testing and treatment efforts in South Africa to vaccine acceptance and COVID-19 mitigation strategies in the US.
Dr. Buttenheim’s research is focused on the application of behavioral insights to infectious disease prevention, and to the implementation of evidence-based practices in multiple domains. She has been continuously NIH-funded as PI or MPI since 2013 for projects on Chagas disease prevention, vaccine exemptions, dental behavior change, and mental health services delivery. With a particular interest in behaviorally-informed intervention design, Dr. Buttenheim has published multiple papers demonstrating the potential for behavioral insights and behavioral design to yield high-impact intervention designs.


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“We know that this disease has disproportionately burdened some groups. We also know that these groups are the least likely to report being excited about getting a vaccine,” she adds. “Initially, we’re going to have scarce supply, and there’s a worry that this will all contribute to worsening disparities and inequities.”

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