Dr. Beth Marfeo is an Associate Professor at Tufts University within the Department of Community Health where she is also the founder and Director of the Health and Productive Aging Lab (HPAL). Dr. Marfeo’s research expertise is in the field of health services research, specifically in health outcomes measurement and development. As a clinically trained occupational therapist, Dr. Marfeo integrates her background in rehabilitation sciences with health services methodologies to conduct research in the following areas: disability evaluation and policy; physical function and mental health assessment; and promoting civic and community participation among adults as they age. Dr. Marfeo’s interdisciplinary research approach integrates paradigms of disability, aging, public health, and rehabilitation sciences.

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”

Betty Friedan (1921-2006)

Dr. Marfeo currently directs a portfolio of research implementing both quantitative and qualitative methodologies including integration of community-based participatory research principles.

Dr. Marfeo is a lead Co-Investigator on several large-scale, multi-disciplinary projects related to examining measurement challenges within the context of the US Social Security Administration’s disability programs. The goal of this line of research is to expand traditional medical models of disability to incorporate functional-based approaches to measuring and characterizing work [dis]ability. Dr. Marfeo was a lead developer of the Work-Disability Functional Assessment Battery (WD-FAB) which is an innovative IRT/CAT based measurement instrument that characterizes work-related physical function and mental health. This ongoing research builds upon over a decade of collaboration between Dr. Marfeo and the NIH Clinical Center, Rehabilitation Medicine Department and uses a team based research approach including experts from rehabilitation research, health services research, bioinformatics, and computer science. 

Dr. Marfeo also works with a team of multi-disciplinary researchers at the New England Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center (GRECC) to examine ways to improve access to healthcare and quality of life for US Veterans aging with chronic conditions and their care partners. Currently Dr. Marfeo has funding through the VA Office of Rural Health to assess and evaluate potential disparities in managing visit-associated logistics among urban and rural Veterans. 

Additionally, Dr. Marfeo is the PI on projects aimed at improving community participation and quality of life among older adults. This line of research includes community-based participatory research (CBPR) working directly with local senior centers in the Boston-metro area as well as leverages use of national datasets such as the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) to better understand the diverse range of needs among adults as they age.

Dr. Marfeo also leads advocacy and policy projects to promote an inclusive and accessible community for individuals of all abilities across the lifespan.  This work builds on her expertise in the area of health policy, advocacy, and promoting civic engagement for all members of society. Dr. Marfeo serves as a Quality Advisor to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) providing advice and guidance related to proposed quality measures (e.g. National Quality Forum, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) that impact the practice of occupational therapy. Dr. Marfeo also serves on several Task Force committees and Special Interest Groups within the American Congress of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (ACRM) focusing on health policy, health services research, and patient-reported outcomes measurement for the field of rehabilitation sciences. 

Dr. Marfeo is committed to dissemination of her work across multiple audiences including policymakers, community members, and scientific journals and conferences. Dr. Marfeo serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Patient Reported Outcomes/JPRO which is one of the official scientific journals of the International Society of Quality of Life Research.  

Dr. Marfeo teaches courses in (1) research methods for health services research and health outcomes measurement development; (2) disability and public health policy; and (3) special topics in health, aging and quality of life. Dr. Marfeo earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from the Medical College of Georgia; Masters of Public Health (MPH) in Health Policy from Yale University School of Public Health; and Doctorate Degree (PhD) in Health Services Research from Boston University School of Public Health. 

If you are interested in joining the HPAL team please reach out to the HPAL team via email at hpalresearch@gmail.com