Debora Paterniti, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Professor Debora Paterniti
Debora Paterniti, Ph.D.


Schulz, 2nd Floor

Office Hours

3:30 pm-4:30 pm via Zoom
8:30 am-9:30 am via Zoom

Professor Paterniti's Zoom sign up link


Ph.D., University of California, Davis
Health Policy Fellowship, Yale School of Medicine

Academic Interests

Research Methods, Health Inequities, Medical Sociology, Social Welfare and Health Policy, Social Psychology, Ethics, Community-Based Research


I am a medical sociologist with expertise in qualitative and mixed-methods research design, thematic and textual analyses, and intervention development. My work has focused on medical education, physician-patient communication and decision making practices and has emphasized critical examination of disparities in health resource access and care.  As an applied sociologist, my work includes engagement with interdisciplinary teams in medicine, communications, psychology and design to develop interventions for enhancing information exchange and for increasing health-related awareness, understanding, and decision-making.  My most recent projects highlight (1) the impact of behavioral interventions on health-related decision making; (2) the meaning and impact of generosity in adversity; and (3) strategies to incorporate reflexivity and mindfulness into social research.  I welcome student involvement in my research.

My participation in professional organizations includes: Society for the Study of Social Problems (past co-Chairperson, Health, Health Services, & Health Policy division (2004-2006 and 2017-2019)); American Sociological Association (past Secretary-Treasurer (2005-2007), Nominations Committee (2002-2003), and Council Member At-Large (1998-2000) for the Medical Sociology section); the Pacific Sociological Association (past co-Chairperson, Awards Committee (2018-2021), past member, Audit Committee (2001-2007)); and the Society of General Internal Medicine (1998-2014).

I have served as Deputy Editor for the Journal of General Internal Medicine (2009-2015) and on a federal grant review committee for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (2001-2005) as well as on Institutional Review Boards for Sutter Cancer Center, Sacramento, CA (2002-2005) and Sonoma State University (fall 2019-present). I am currently a member of the editorial advisory board for Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness and Medicine.

Selected Publications & Presentations

Paterniti, DA, T Arango Rodriguez, A Carlos Montesinos, E Valencia and M Beatty. 2021. “The Value of a Multidisciplinary Student Team in Understanding Social Paradoxes.” Society for the Study of Social Problems (Critical Dialogue in Teaching Sociology). August 6th virtual meeting.

Milligan, MJ and DA Paterniti. 2021. “What Do Professors Want?: Classroom Design Preferences of University Instructors.” Environmental Design Research Association 52.

Guzman JR, DA Paterniti, Y Liu, DM Tarn. 2020. “Factors Related to Disclosure and Nondisclosure of Dietary Supplements in Primary Care, Integrative Medicine, and Naturopathic Medicine.” Journal of Family Medicine and Disease Prevention. Feb; 5(4):109.

Henry SG, DA Paterniti, B Feng, AM Iosif, RL Kravitz, G Weinberg, P Cowan, S Verba. 2019. "Patients Experience with Opioid Tapering: A Conceptual Model with Recommendations for Clinicians." Journal of Pain. Feb; 20(2):181-191.

Jerant A, P Duberstein, C Cipri, B Bullard, D Stone, DA Paterniti. 2019. "Stakeholders Views Regarding a Planned Primary Care Office-based Interactive Multimedia Suicide Prevention Tool." Patient Education and Counselling. Feb;102(2):332-339.

Koebner IJ, SM Fishman, DA Paterniti, D Sommer, CM Witt, D Ward, JG Joseph. 2019. "The Art of Analgesia: A Pilot Study of Art Museum Tours to Decrease Pain and Social Disconnection among Individuals with Chronic Pain." Pain Medicine. Apr 1; 20(4):681-691.

Shauman K, LP Howell, DA Paterniti, LA Beckett, AC Villablanca. 2018. “Barriers to Career Flexibility in Academic Medicine: A Qualitative Analysis of Reasons for the Underutilization of Family-Friendly Policies, and Implications for Institutional Change and Department Chair Leadership.” Academic Medicine. 93(2):246-255.

Perez SL, RL Kravitz, RA Bell, MS Chan, and DA Paterniti. 2016. Characterizing Internet Health Information Seeking Strategies by Socioeconomic Status: a Mixed Methods Approach.” BMC-Medical Information and Decision Making. Aug 9; 16:107.

Tarn DM, DA Paterniti, NS Wenger. 2016. “Provider Recommendations in the Face of Scientific Uncertainty: An Analysis of Audio-Recorded Discussions about Vitamin D.” Journal of General Internal Medicine. 31(8):909-17.

Fenton JJ, RL Kravitz, A Jerant, DA Paterniti, et al. 2016. "Promoting Patient-Centered Counseling to Reduce Use of Low-Value Diagnostic Tests: A Randomized Clinical Trial." JAMA-Internal Medicine 176(2):191-7. 

Tong, EK, LC Fung, SL Stewart, DA Paterniti, JH Dang, and MS Chen Jr. 2014. “Impact of a Biospecimen Collection Seminar on Willingness to Donate Biospecimens among Chinese Americans: Results from a Randomized, Controlled Community-based Trial.” Cancer and Epidemiological Biomarkers Prevention 23(3):392-401.

Kravitz, RL, DA Paterniti, RM Epstein, AB Rochlen, RA Bell, et al. 2011. “Organizational and Relational Barriers to Depression Help-Seeking in Primary Care: A Qualitative Study.” Patient Education & Counseling 82(2):207-13. 

Paterniti, DA, TL Fancher, CS Cipri, S Timmermans, J Heritage, and RL Kravitz. 2010. “Getting to ‘No’: Strategies Physicians Use to Deny Patient Requests.” Archives of Internal Medicine 170(4):381-8. 

Paterniti, DA, RJ Pan, LF Smith, NM Horan, and DC West.  2006. “From Physician-Centered to Community-Oriented Perspectives on Health Care: Assessing the Efficacy of Community-based Training.” Academic Medicine 81:347-353. 

Paterniti, DA. 2004. “A Second Opinion.” Contexts: Understanding People in Their Social Worlds 3(3):56-7. 

Ashton, CM, PM Haidet, DA Paterniti, et al.  2003. “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Health Care: Doctors’ Biases, Patients’ Preferences, or Poor Communication?” Journal of General Internal Medicine 18(2):146-152.

Paterniti, DA.  2003. “Claiming Identity in a Nursing Home.” In J Gubrium and J Holstein, eds. Ways of Aging. Blackwell Publishers pp.58-74.

Charmaz, K and DA Paterniti, eds. 1999. Health, Illness, and Healing: Society, Social Context, and Self. Los Angeles: Roxbury Publishing Company.