Julia E. Szymczak, PhD



Julia E. Szymczak, PhD

Assistant Professor of Epidemiology

Dr. Szymczak’s research interests include medical sociology, work and organizations, patient safety, quality improvement and implementation science. She aims to understand how the social organization of medical work influences the uptake of standards, guidelines and best practices. Most of her research utilizes qualitative methodology (particularly ethnography) to uncover the mediating conditions that influence whether a practice will be adopted consistently or not. She also collaborates with clinician-scientists and health policy researchers. She strongly believes that the theories and methodological tools of sociology can be brought to bear in order to better understand significant real-world problems in  population health.

She has examined various case studies of efforts to improve healthcare quality and patient safety in the U.S., including resident duty-hour restrictions and infection-prevention practices. Her current research focuses on the nonclinical factors that shape antibiotic prescribing and the social factors that influence success in antibiotic stewardship. She has received funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the University of Pennsylvania School of Arts and Sciences Graduate Division. Her research has appeared in journals such as Social Science and MedicineThe Milbank Quarterly, JAMA Pediatrics and the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

She completed her doctoral training in sociology at Penn and a postdoctoral fellowship in the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Center for Pediatric Clinical Effectiveness at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.


Content Area Specialties

Medical sociology, patient safety and quality improvement, implementation science, antimicrobial stewardship, infection prevention and control

Methodology Specialties

Ethnography, in-depth interviewing, qualitative content analysis, computer-assisted qualitative data analysis

Share this Content

About Us

To understand health and disease today, we need new thinking and novel science —the kind  we create when multiple disciplines work together from the ground up. That is why this department has put forward a bold vision in population-health science: a single academic home for biostatistics, epidemiology and informatics. MORE

© 2019 Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. | Disclaimer

Follow Us