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Arnold School of Public Health

Health promotion, education, and behavior associate professor Caroline Rudisill joins Arnold School’s Greenville Campus

February 5, 2018 | Erin Bluvas, 

The health promotion, education, and behavior (HPEB) department welcomed associate professor Caroline Rudisill in January. The health economist joins UofSC from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and will be located at the Arnold School’s Greenville Campus, which opened last fall.

Rudisill’s research focuses on examining individual decision-making regarding health-related behaviors (e.g., treatment choices, preventive behaviors) and the use of demand-side financial incentives in preventive and primary care settings, risk perceptions about vaccines and behaviors in the face of public health risks, such as smoking and avian flu. She is also interested in the use of economic evaluation to play a role in coverage decisions in health systems worldwide. This research includes modelling treatment choices and examining the policy implications of economic evaluation results.

With experience in the areas of bariatric surgery and diabetic retinopathy screening, Rudisill plans to build on her research in diabetes and obesity-related interventions. She is interested in both prevention and treatment of these health issues.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Rudisill join the HPEB family,” says HPEB Chair Daniela Friedman. “Her economics research has behavioral intervention and policy implications. It is also quite interdisciplinary in nature and will bring together faculty and students from multiple departments in the Arnold School, across the USC campus, and with the Greenville Health System.”

Originally from Charlotte, N.C., Rudisill graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics from Georgetown University before working in commodity sales in New York City. In this role, she most looked forward to hearing reports from the economists—realizing that a career in research might be a good fit. During a summer abroad as an undergraduate in a country whose economy largely depended on a single commodity, Rudisill observed how the budgets for the health system and other government services were affected by commodity price fluctuations. 

She began looking for a master’s program to combine these interests and found a master’s program in international health policy at the LSE, where she won the Brian Abel-Smith Award for Best Master’s Dissertation in Health Economics. Rudisill remained at the LSE to earn a Ph.D. in Social Policy with her thesis focusing on public health and behavioral economics.

“I wanted to delve further into international perspectives,” says Rudisill. “This program interfaced economics and policy together with the approaches of not only the United Kingdom but the United States, France, Germany, and other countries as well.”

Upon completing her dissertation, she became a lecturer (assistant professor in the United Kingdom) teaching health economics at both LSE and King’s College London. During this time, her alma mater asked her to establish a master’s program in health economics, policy and management—the first executive master’s program in health at the LSE. Rudisill began the program without administrative support and grew it to include 50+ students per year and two new tenured track faculty members. 

In addition to the collegial atmosphere, it was this opportunity to once again build something from the ground up that drew Rudisill to the Arnold School when she decided to return to the United States. “I’m excited about the high-velocity opportunities and challenges that the Greenville campus presents,” she says. “The resources here are growing, and there are many paths for partnering with Greenville Health System professionals. I’m also looking forward to serving as a conduit between the Columbia and Greenville campuses.”

With her office located in downtown Greenville, Rudisill will collaborate closely with Care Coordination Institute Labs. Working with physicians and other health professionals, she will study how behavior affects health outcomes and the economics of interventions.

“Dr. Rudisill is a much-valued addition to our efforts in Greenville to improve population health through partnership with health systems, which are increasingly focused on the health of their surrounding populations in recognition that social determinants affect the health of their patients,” says Ronnie Horner, associate dean for clinical public health at the Arnold School. “The Greenville Health System is particularly advanced in their population health initiatives, making its partnership with the Arnold School highly promising for making a positive impact on the health of Upstate South Carolinians in the near-term. In that the Greenville Health System has prioritized diabetes treatment and prevention, Dr. Rudisill’s research interests are an excellent fit with the current healthcare priorities. We anticipate that her studies will provide useful guidance to the health system in improving the care of its diabetic patients.”

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