Rita Gorawara-Bhat

Senior Staff Scientist
Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine

Rita Gorawara-Bhat, Ph.D. is a Senior Staff Scientist in the Department of Medicine, Section of Geriatrics and Palliative Medicine and acts as Advisor/Consultant on Qualitative Research Methods in the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research at The University of Chicago.  Dr. Gorawara-Bhat is a Social Psychologist by training with expertise in qualitative methods (in-depth interviewing, cognitive interviewing, focus groups, Delphi techniques etc.) and survey methods (questionnaire design).  Her current research, among other areas, focuses on the development, effective combination, and utilization of Qualitative Methodologies in Diabetes and Aging research.  The use of qualitative methods in her research work has resulted in a book and several journal articles.

As a core member of the research staff for over a decade, she supports the research interests of Geriatrics and Medicine faculty/fellows and also plays the role of invited reviewer on internal grant proposals.  Some selected examples of these collaborations in the Diabetes Translation Center include: a) social aspects of self-management of diabetes in older patients, including strategies for communication that facilitate self-care practices (with Dr. Chin and Dr. Huang); b) shared decision making among African-American patients (with Dr. Peek); c) Latino Preferences for Church-Based Diabetes Self-Management Interventions (with Dr. Baig); d) development of qualitative methodologies for research in mobile health (with Dr. Nundy).

Beyond acting as a resource person for the Chicago Center for Diabetes Translation Research, Geriatrics and Medicine faculty/fellows, Dr. Gorawara-Bhat focuses on studying older patient-physician communication (verbal and nonverbal) arising in doctors’ offices in various situations, including settings such as routine and anxiety-provoking visits (prostate cancer) (with Dr. Dale).  The ways in which the physical setting becomes interlinked with doctor-patient communication is of particular interest to her.  To this end, she has designed and published an instrument to measure the nonverbal dimensions of doctor-older patient communication leading to a series of publications and an internationally funded award in person-centered communication with older adults.