Dr. Debra Roter holds a joint appointment in medicine and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is a University Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is the director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Genomic Literacy and Communication.
Her primary research focus is patient-provider communication. Her recent work has investigated the association between patients' and physicians' ethnicity and gender and their communication style and medical care outcomes.
Dr. Roter is the author of the Roter Interaction Analysis System (RIAS), a coding method for analyzing medical dialogue. It has been translated into 12 languages and is the most commonly used system worldwide to analyze audio or video recordings of medical encounters. Her July 2013 article in the journal Genetics in Medicine, “The Angelina effect: immediate reach, grasp, and impact of going public,” explored the intersection of celebrity and health awareness. A survey found that three out of four Americans were aware of Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy, but fewer than 10 percent of respondents had the information to interpret her results. (Jolie had a double mastectomy after testing positive for a mutated BRCA gene, which increases chances of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.) The study concluded that awareness of the Angelina Jolie story was not associated with improved understanding of the attendant health risks.
She received her Doctor of Public Health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1977 and her Master of Public Health from the Bloomberg School of Public Health in 1975. She has been on the faculty of Johns Hopkins University since 1979.
Dr. Roter has received many honors for her teaching and research, including recognition by the Web of Science as one of the most highly cited authors in the social sciences, as well as the American Academy on Physician and Patient Award for outstanding research contribution to the theory, practice and teaching of effective health care communication and related skills. She has authored over 200 articles and several books in the communication domain.