• Ronit Elk, PhD has recently joined the University of Alabama, Birmingham as Professor in the School of Medicine; Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care, and as Associate Director of the Southeast Institute for Innovation in Palliative and Supportive Care. Her prior position was at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Using Community Based Participatory Research, her NIH-funded research focuses on partnering with underserved populations, in particular rural African American communities, to determine effective culturally-based palliative care programs. Her first academic appointment was at the University of Texas in Houston where she was NIH-funded to explore effective interventions for “hard to reach” populations. She served as guest editor, Special Issue on “Palliative and End of Life Care for African Americans,” Journal of Palliative Medicine, Ronit has extensive expertise in grant writing, reviewing and funding; in addition to serving on several NIH Peer Review Committees for over 8 years, she directed the first extramural Cancer Control and Prevention Research at the American Cancer Society from 2001-2011; this included establishing a nationally-recognized cancer health disparities program, and forming a partnership with the National Palliative Care Research Center to establish the first palliative care research funding program in the US

    Personal: Ronit was born in Israel but spent her early life moving from country to country, as her father was Israeli Ambassador to Turkey, India, Uganda, Kenya and South Africa. She immigrated to the US over 30 years ago, but still talks with a “funny accent.” She is the proud grandmother of 3 year old twins, a boy and a girl, who live in Israel.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2020 Responding to Healthcare Disparities and Challenges with Access to Care during COVID-19 2020
    2020 Forging a new frontier: Providing palliative care to people with cancer in rural and remote areas 2020
    2020 Developing and Testing the Feasibility of a Culturally Based Tele-Palliative Care Consult Based on the Cultural Values and Preferences of Southern, Rural African American and White Community Members: A Program by and for the Community 2020
    2019 Reducing disparities in the quality of palliative care for older african americans through improved advance care planning: Study design and protocol 2019
    2018 Social Inequalities in Palliative Care for Cancer Patients in the United States: A Structured Review 2018
    2018 Culture and Palliative Care: Preferences, Communication, Meaning, and Mutual Decision Making 2018
    2018 Our Differences Make Us Stronger 2018
    2017 The potential of palliative care for patients with respiratory diseases 2017
    2017 The Implementation of Measuring What Matters in Research and Practice: Series Commentary 2017
    2017 Operationalizing the Measuring What Matters Spirituality Quality Metric in a Population of Hospitalized, Critically Ill Patients and Their Family Members 2017
    2017 A Community-Developed, Culturally-Based Palliative Care Program for African American and White Rural Elders with a Life-Limiting Illness: A Program By The Community for the Community 2017
    2017 Concordance Between Veterans' Self-Report and Documentation of Surrogate Decision Makers: Implications for Quality Measurement 2017
    2017 Full Collection of Personal Narratives 2017
    2017 Opioid Prescription Drug Use and Expenditures in US Outpatient Physician Offices: Evidence from Two Nationally Representative Surveys. 2017
    2016 Adherence to Measuring What Matters Items When Caring for Patients With Hematologic Malignancies Versus Solid Tumors 2016
    2016 Assessing Emotional Suffering in Palliative Care: Use of a Structured Note Template to Improve Documentation 2016
    2016 Concordance of Advance Care Plans With Inpatient Directives in the Electronic Medical Record for Older Patients Admitted From the Emergency Department 2016
    2016 Adherence to Measuring What Matters Measures Using Point-of-Care Data Collection Across Diverse Clinical Settings 2016
    2016 Feeling Heard and Understood: A Patient-Reported Quality Measure for the Inpatient Palliative Care Setting 2016
    2016 LGBT Populations and Cancer: Is It an Ignored Epidemic? 2016
    2016 The first step is recognizing, acknowledging, and respecting the inequity, disrespect, and disregard our African American patients have experienced 2016
    2015 Systematic review of palliative care in the rural setting 2015
    2015 National Institutes of health pathways to prevention workshop: Advancing the research on myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic fatigue syndrome 2015
    2009 Current status of palliative care-clinical implementation, education, and research 2009
    1999 Use of monetary reinforcers by cocaine-dependent outpatients 1999
    1999 Behavioral and emotional problems among children of cocaine- and opiate- dependent parents 1999
    1998 Context modulates effects of nicotine abstinence on human cooperative responding 1998
    1998 Context modulates effects of nicotine abstinence on human cooperative responding. 1998
    1998 Medication take-home doses and contingency management 1998
    1998 Medication take-home doses and contingency management. 1998
    1998 Cessation of cocaine use during pregnancy: Effects of contingency management interventions on maintaining abstinence and complying with prenatal care 1998
    1998 Retention, HIV risk, and illicit drug use during treatment: Methadone dose and visit frequency 1998
    1997 Behavioral interventions: Effective and adaptable for the treatment of pregnant cocaine-dependent women 1997
    1997 Baseline assessment, study entry, and stabilization: double-blind clinical trials in drug dependence. 1997
    1997 Social, ethical and practical aspects of perinatal substance use 1997
    1996 AIDS-related knowledge and high-risk behaviors of pregnant, substance-dependent women 1996
    1995 Fluoxetine is ineffective for treatment of cocaine dependence or concurrent opiate and cocaine dependence: Two placebo-controlled, double-blind trials 1995
    1995 Behavioral treatment of cocaine-dependent pregnant women and TB-exposed patients 1995
    1994 Cessation of cocaine use during pregnancy: A preliminary comparison 1994
    1994 Dr. Elk and colleagues' response 1994
    1993 Clinicwide and individualized behavioral interventions in drug dependence treatment 1993
    1993 Compliance with tubercolosis treatment in methadone-maintained patients: Behavioral interventions 1993
    1993 A substance-abuse research-treatment clinic: Effective procedures and systems 1993
    1993 Factor stationarity and invariance of the POMS in cocaine patients 1993
    1993 Methadone dosage, cocaine and opiate abuse [5] 1993
    1987 The outcome of psychiatric illness. A 2-year follow-up study 1987
    1986 Admissions to a psychiatric hospital. Factors associated with admission and inpatient care 1986
    1986 Readmissions to a psychiatric hospital. Outcome on follow-up 1986
    1986 Depression in schizophrenia: A study of prevalence and treatment 1986
    1985 A comparison of CATEGO class 'S' schizophrenia in three ethnic groups: Psychiatric manifestations 1985
    1985 Hypertension in the aged - Psychosocial and psychiatric concomitants in a coloured community 1985
    1985 Hypo-osmolar intravascular volume overload during anaesthesia for transurethral prostatectomy. A report of 2 cases 1985
    1983 The Coloured elderly in Cape Town. A psychosocial, psychiatric and medical community survey. Part I. Introduction and psychosocial data 1983
    1983 The Coloured elderly in Cape Town. A psychosocial, psychiatric and medical community survey. Part II. Prevalence of psychiatric disorders 1983
    1983 Life events in Xhosas in Cape Town 1983
    1982 The admission of the elderly to places of care: A socio-psychiatric community survey 1982
    1982 The present state examination: Experiences with Xhosa-speaking psychiatric patients 1982
    1981 Physical and mental incapacity in elderly White persons in Cape Town. A community survey 1981
    1981 Reasons for referral of the elderly for psychiatric hospitalization 1981


    Year Title Altmetric
    2015 Cancer and the LGBT community: Unique perspectives from risk to survivorship 2015


    Year Title Altmetric
    2015 Challenges and recommended solutions to end of life care for Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender patients diagnosed with cancer with a life-limiting prognosis.  227-259. 2015
    2015 Introduction.  1-6. 2015
    2015 The challenges remain: Needed next steps in alleviating the burden of cancer in the LGBT community.  313-331. 2015

    Research Overview

  • My focus is on determining communities’ cultural values and preferences for care and communication at end of life, and based on this, developing culturally-appropriate programs for underserved elders from different cultures who are facing a serious illness. Using Community Based Participatory Research, I work in full partnership with community members, patients, family members, pastors and hospital staff, in the various rural South Carolina and Alabama communities where I conduct my research. In one 3-year study, we developed a culturally-appropriate palliative care program, tailored to African American and White rural Southern elders. The palliative care consult program, to be delivered via telehealth, has elements that are the same for both groups, as well as elements/preferences that differ significantly between the two ethnic groups. The program will be delivered by the palliative care physician in the manner appropriate to the ethnicity of the patient. This model can be replicated in other ethnic groups and another study is conducting focus groups with patients and caregivers and leaders in Ghana to determine their cultural preferences and values. A similar study will be conducted in 2019 in Puerto Rico, and in Israel with Arab communities in 2020. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first culturally based palliative care program developed in the US. Recently, Dr. Marie Bakitas and I have recently been awarded an R01 to conduct an RCT to test the efficacy of this culturally-based intervention compared to standard care, in African American and White rural elders in rural hospitals in Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina.
  • Investigator On

  • Equal Advanced Care Planning  awarded by Duke University 2017 - 2020
  • Education And Training

  • Doctor of Philosophy in Psychiatry Residency Program, University of Cape Town 1989
  • Full Name

  • Ronit Elk