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Chief, Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology
John R. and Helen B. Chambliss Distinguished Professor

Specialty Areas: General Internal Medicine, chronic illness care, prevention, health communication, health literacy, quality improvement, patient centeredness.

Chronology: BS Summa Cum Laude: UCLA, 1992; MD: Vanderbilt School of Medicine, 1997; Resident: University of North Carolina, 1997-2001; Chief Resident, University of North Carolina Department of Medicine, 2001-2002; Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar, 2002-2004; MPH: University of North Carolina, 2004; Assistant Professor: University of North Carolina 2004-2010; Associate Professor: University of North Carolina 2010-2017; Director, Learning and Diffusion Group, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, 2014-2016; Chief, Division of General Medicine and Clinical Epidemiology, University of North Carolina, 2016-present; Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina, 2017-present; Director, UNC Institute for Healthcare Quality Improvement, 2018-present.

Dr. DeWalt is an expert in primary care and innovative models of care delivery and financing. His research spans new models of care, health disparities, health literacy, quality improvement, and patient reported outcomes. From 2014-2016, Dr. DeWalt led a group at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to help support new models of care delivery and financing.

Dr. DeWalt has a long history of research and quality improvement at local, regional, and national levels. Dr. DeWalt was the principal investigator for the North Carolina Infrastructure for Maintaining Primary Care Transformation (NC IMPaCT) grant from AHRQ. He also led the design team and was a national improvement advisor for the Improving Performance in Practice (IPIP) program for the boards and specialty societies of internal medicine, family medicine, and pediatrics. IPIP helped practicing primary care physicians improve care systems through working in improvement networks, measuring and sharing performance data, and receiving improvement education and training. As part of IPIP, he also provided technical assistance to the RWJF Aligning Forces for Quality program transforming healthcare in 17 communities across the United States. Dr. DeWalt was also an improvement advisor to the Cincinnati Beacon Community PCMH and diabetes quality improvement collaborative. He currently leads the evidence team for Heart Health Now supporting transformation in 250 practices across North Carolina.

He has also researched self-management interventions for patients with low-literacy and focused on chronic diseases like diabetes, heart failure, COPD, and asthma. His focus was on patient- physician communication and health system design to achieve better outcomes for vulnerable populations. His work in health literacy includes epidemiological studies, systematic reviews, communication tool development, and clinical trials. He also led a practice-based intervention to reduce hypertension disparities funded by NHLBI. He is the lead author of the AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit.

Dr. DeWalt was the principal investigator at the UNC research site for the Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS). PROMIS develops advanced tools for measurement of symptoms, function, and quality of life. Dr. DeWalt is interested in the use of self-report measurements among vulnerable populations, particularly those with low literacy.

Personal Statement: I love my time in clinic as a primary care physician. I enjoy forming relationships with my patients and helping them to achieve their health goals. Working together with patients, I try to align preventive and medical care with their values. I strive for clear communication and appreciate that each patient is an individual.

Selected Bibliography:
Berkowitz SA, Terranova J, Hill C, Ajayi T, Linsky T, Tishler LW, DeWalt DA. Meal Delivery Programs Reduce The Use Of Costly Health Care In Dually Eligible Medicare And Medicaid Beneficiaries. Health Aff (Millwood). 2018 Apr;37(4):535-542. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2017.0999.

Jones CD, Vu MB, O’Donnell C, Anderson ME, Wald HL, Coleman EA, DeWalt DA. A Failure to Communicate: Care Coordination Between Hospitalists and Primary Care Providers Around Hospitalizations. J Gen Intern Med. 2015 Apr;30(4):417-24. doi: 10.1007/s11606-014-3056-x. Epub 2014 Oct 15.

DeWalt DA, Gross HE, Gipson DS, Selewski DT, DeWitt EM, Dampier CD, Hinds PS, Huang IC, Thissen D, Varni JW. PROMIS® pediatric self-report scales distinguish subgroups of children within and across six common pediatric chronic health conditions. Qual Life Res. 2015 Sep;24(9):2195-208. doi: 10.1007/s11136-015-0953-3. Epub 2015 Feb 26.

Jackson CT, Trygstad TK, DeWalt DA, DuBard CA. Transitional care cut hospital readmissions for North Carolina Medicaid patients with complex chronic conditions. Health Aff (Millwood). 2013 Aug;32(8):1407-15. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2013.0047.

DeWalt DA, Schillinger D, Ruo B, Bibbins-Domingo K, Baker DW, Holmes GM, Weinberger M, Macabasco-O’Connell A, Broucksou K, Hawk V, Grady KL, Erman B, Sueta CA, Chang PP, Wiley Cene C, Wu JR, Jones CD, Pignone M. A multisite randomized trial of a single- versus multi-session literacy sensitive self-care intervention for patients with heart failure. Circulation. 2012 Jun 12;125(23):2854-62. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.111.081745. Epub 2012 May 9.

Baker DW, DeWalt DA, Schillinger D, Hawk V, Ruo B, Bibbins-Domingo K, Weinberger M, Macabasco-O’Connell A, Pignone M. “Teach to Goal”: Theory and Design Principles of an Intervention to Improve Heart Failure Self-Management Skills of Patients with Low Health Literacy. J Health Commun. 2011 Sep 30;16 Suppl 3:73-88.

Margolis PA, Dewalt DA, Simon JE, Horowitz S, Scoville R, Kahn N, Perelman R, Bagley B, Miles P. Designing a large-scale multilevel improvement initiative: The improving performance in practice program. J Contin Educ Health Prof. 2010 Summer;30(3):187-96. doi: 10.1002/chp.20080.

Cavanaugh K, Wallston K, Gebretsadik T, Shintani A, Davis D, Gregory R, Huizinga M, Malone R, Pignone M, DeWalt D, Elasy T, Rothman R. Addressing literacy and numeracy to improve diabetes care: two randomized controlled trials. Diabetes Care. 2009 Dec;32(12):2149-55. doi: 10.2337/dc09-0563. Epub 2009 Sep 9.

Rothman R, DeWalt DA, Malone R, et al. The influence of patient literacy on the effectiveness of a primary-care based diabetes disease management program. JAMA. 2004; 292(14):1711-1716.

Click here for a list of publications on PubMed.

Recognitions and Honors:
2018 Seventh Annual Quickel Lecture, Joslin Diabetes Center
2018 Elected to North Carolina Institute of Medicine
2015 CMS Administrator’s Award for Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network
2006 Pfizer Visiting Professor for Health Literacy and Clear Health Communication
1996 Alpha Omega Alpha, Honor Medical Society


  • Phone Number

    984-974-4462 (Appointments)

  • Address

    100 Eastowne Drive, 6th Floor

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599