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Campus Address: 

Room 210-29
800 University Bay Drive
Madison, WI 53705

Campus Phone Number: 
(608) 262-8302

Elizabeth Jacobs, MD, MAPP

  • Professor


Elizabeth A. Jacobs is Professor of Medicine and Population Health Sciences and Vice Chair for Health Services Research in the Department of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. She attended medical school at the University of California at San Francisco and trained as a general internist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. She completed a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Fellowship and a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Chicago.

After struggling to care for limited English-speaking patients during medical school and residency, she decided to pursue a research career investigating minority disparities in health care. Dr. Jacobs' research interests include access to, and cultural specificity of, medical care delivered to minority patients, the impact of interpreter service interventions on the cost and quality of healthcare, health literacy and numeracy, and the role that trust in health care plays in racial/ethnic disparities in health care. Her research has been supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute, the National Institute on Aging, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, The California Endowment, The Russell Sage Foundation and the Office of Minority Health and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

She is recognized as an expert on the provision of linguistically accessible and culturally competent care and has served on Office of Minority Health, Joint Commission, National Quality Forum, and AHRQ expert panels. She has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and has authored three book chapters. In addition, she works with other investigators to design culturally specific research, and teaches residents and medical students about practicing culturally sensitive medicine.

Select Publications

Jacobs EA, Leos GS, Rathouz PJ, Fu P, Jr. Shared Networks Of Interpreter Services, At Relatively Low Cost, Can Help Providers Serve Patients With Limited English Skills. Health Aff (Millwood) 2011; 30(10): 1930-1938.

Jacobs EA, Mendenhall E, McAlearney AS, Rolle I, Whitaker EE, Warnecke R, Ferrans CE. An Exploratory Study of How Trust in Health Care Institutions Varies Across African American, Hispanic, and White Populations. Commun Med 2011; 8(1): 89-98.

Kaiser K, Rauscher GH, Jacobs EA, Strenski TA, Ferrans CE, Warnecke RB. The Import of Trust in Regular Providers to Trust in Cancer Physicians Among White, African American, and Hispanic Breast Cancer Patients. J Gen Intern Med 2011; 26(1): 51-7. PMCID: PMC3024096.

Schapira MM, Fletcher KE, Ganschow PS, Walker CM, Tyler B, Del Pozo S, Schauer C, Jacobs EA. The Meaning of Numbers in Health: Exploring Health Numeracy in a Mexican-American Population. J Gen Intern Med 2011; 26(7): 705-711. PMCID: PMC3138587.

Seligman HK, Jacobs EA, Lopez A, Sarkar U, Tschann J, Fernandez A. Food Insecurity and Hypoglycemia Among Safety Net Patients With Diabetes. Arch Intern Med 2011; 171(13): 1204-6. PMCID: PMC3263865.

Vijayaraghavan M, Lacobs EA, Fernandez A. The Association Between Housing Instability, Food Insecurity and Diabetes Self-Efficacy in Low-Income Adults. J Health Care Poor Underserved 2011; 22(4): 1279-1291.

Delgado J, Jacobs EA, Lackland DT, Evans DA, Mendes de Leon, CF.  Differences in Blood Pressure Control in a Large Population-Based Sample of Older African Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 2012; 67: 1253-8. PMCID: PMC3474465.

Diamond L, Luft HA, Sukyung C, Jacobs EA. "Does this Doctor Speak My Language?" Improving the Characterization of Physician Non-English Language Skills. Health Serv Res 2012; 47(1pt2): 556-569.

Fernandez A, Seligman H, Quan J, Stern RJ, Jacobs EA. Associations Between Aspects of Culturally Competent Care and Clinical Outcomes Among Patients With Diabetes. Med Care 2012; 50(9 Suppl 2): S74-7.

Iten E, Jacobs EA, Lahiff M, Fernandez A. Undocumented Immigration Status and Diabetes Care Among Mexican Immigrants in Two Immigration "Sanctuary" Areas. J Immigr Minor Health 2012.

Jacobs EA, Fu, Jr P, Rathouz P. Does a Video-Interpreting Network Improve Delivery of Care in the Emergency Department? Health Serv Res 2012; 47(1pt2): 509-522.

Lewis TT, Yang FM, Jacobs EA, Fitchett G. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Response to the Everyday Discrimination Scale: A Differential Item Functioning Analysis. Am J Epidemiol 2012; 175: 391-401. PMCID: PMC3282874.

Lynch EB, Fernandez A, Lighthouse N, Mendenhall E, Jacobs E. Concepts of Diabetes Self-Management in Mexican American and African American Low-Income Patients With Diabetes. Health Educ Res 2012; 27(5): 814-824.

McAlearney AS, Oliveri JM, Post DM, Song PH, Jacobs E, Waibel J, Harrop JP, Steinman K, Paskett ED. Trust and Distrust Among Appalachian Women Regarding Cervical Cancer Screening: A Qualitative Study. Patient Educ Couns 2012; 86(1): 120-6. PMCID: PMC3178720.

Mendenhall E, Fernandez A, Adler N, Jacobs EA. Susto, Coraje, and Abuse: Depression and Beliefs About Diabetes. Cult Med Psychiatry 2012; 36: 480-492.

Mendenhall EM, Jacobs EA. Interpersonal Abuse and Depression Among Mexican Immigrant Women with Type 2 Diabetes. Cult Med Psychiatry 2012; 36: 136-153.

Naranjo DM, Jacobs EA, Fisher L, Hessler D, Fernandez A. Age and Glycemic Control Among Low-Income Latinos. J Immigr Minor Health 2012.

Ottum A, Sethi AK, Jacobs EA, Zerbel S, Gaines ME, Safdar N. Do Patients Feel Comfortable Asking Healthcare Workers to Wash Their Hands? Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2012; 33(12): 1282-1284.

Peek ME, Wilson SC, Bussey-Jones J, Lypson M, Cordasco K, Jacobs EA, Bright C, Brown AF. A Study of National Physician Organizations' Efforts to Reduce Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities in the United States. Acad Med 2012; 87(6): 694-700. NIHMS389993.

Safdar N, Mittelstadt K, Gaines M, Jacobs EA. Patient Awareness of the Risks of Central Venous Catheters in the Outpatient Setting. Am J Infect Control 2012; 40: 87-88.

Schapira MM, Walker CM, Cappaert KJ, Ganschow PS, Fletcher KE, McGinley EL, Del Pozo S, Schauer C, Tarima S, Jacobs EA. The Numeracy Understanding in Medicine Instrument: A Measure of Health Numeracy Developed Using Item Response Theory. Med Decis Making 2012; 32(6): 851-65.

Seligman HK, Fernandez A, Stern RJ, Weech-Maldonado R, Quan J, Jacobs EA. Risk Factors for Reporting Poor Cultural Competency Among Patients With Diabetes in Safety Net Clinics. Med Care 2012; 50(9 Suppl 2): S56-61. PMCID: PMC3263865.

Seligman HK, Jacobs EA, Lopez A, Tschann J, Fernandez A. Food Insecurity and Glycemic Control Among Low-Income Patients With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care 2012; 35: 233-238. PMCID: PMC3263865.

Slean GR, Jacobs EA, Lahiff M, Fisher L, Fernandez A. Aspects of Culturally Competent Care are Associated With Less Emotional Burden Among Patients With Diabetes. Med Care 2012; 50(9 Suppl 2): S69-73.

Stern RJ, Fernandez A, Jacobs EA, Neilands TB, Weech-Maldonado R, Quan J, Carle A, Seligman HK. Advances in Measuring Culturally Competent Care: A Confirmatory Factor Analysis of CAHPS-CC in a Safety-Net Population. Med Care 2012; 50(9 Suppl 2): S49-55.

Ottum A, Sethi AK, Jacobs E, Zerbel S, Gaines ME, Safdar N. Engaging Patients in the Prevention of Health Care-Associated Infections: A Survey of Patients' Awareness, Knowledge, and Perceptions Regarding the Risks and Consequences of Infection With Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus and Clostridium Difficile. Am J Infect Control 2013; 41: 322-6.

Sheehy AM, Graf B, Gangireddy S, Hoffman R, Ehlenbach M, Heidke C, Fields S, Liegel B, Jacobs EA. Hospitalized But Not Admitted: Characteristics of Patients With "Observation Status" at an Academic Medical Center. JAMA Intern Med 2013.

Sheehy AM, Graf BK, Gangireddy S, Formisano R, Jacobs EA. "Observation Status" for Hospitalized Patients: Implications of a Proposed Medicare Rule Change. JAMA Intern Med 2013. In Press.

Westergaard RP, Beach MC, Saha S, Jacobs EA. Racial/Ethnic Differences in Trust in Health Care: HIV Conspiracy Beliefs and Research Participation. J Gen Intern Med 2013. In Press.