Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Impacting health policy and public health in Maine and across the nation
We develop, manage, and evaluate initiatives that test solutions to address access to and quality and cost of healthcare
Access to healthcare photo
We evaluate public health initiatives, assess performance and quality, and develop tools and measures
Word art for public health systems and practice
The Maine Public Health Institute informs health and public health policy and system development through research, policy analysis, technical assistance, and training
Our rural health research focuses on barriers to healthcare access for rural residents, behavioral health, and challenges faced by rural healthcare providers
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Population Health and Health Policy

The Population Health and Health Policy (PHHP) program at the Cutler Institute conducts policy-driven research, evaluation, policy analysis and technical assistance focusing on the public health system and the delivery of healthcare services.

PHHP People

Areas of Focus


Healthcare Access, Quality, & Financing

Our team of researchers develops, manages, and evaluates federal, state, local and foundation initiatives that test innovative and practical solutions to address access to healthcare, improve the quality and safety of healthcare across multiple settings, and inform the complex dynamics of health services cost-efficiency and value. Contact Erika Ziller for more information.


Public Health Systems & Practice

Our team of practitioners, researchers, and evaluators focus this body of work on the evaluation of public health initiatives; assessment of performance and quality; improvement of programs and service delivery; development of tools and measures; and preparation for accreditation. Contact Brenda Joly for more information.


Maine Public Health Institute

The Maine Public Health Institute informs health and public health policy and system development through research, policy analysis, technical assistance and training, and is committed to effectively integrating the science, tools, and practices of public health and healthcare management to improve access, population health outcomes, and heathcare cost efficiencies. Contact Brenda Joly or Andy Coburn for more information.


Rural couple at mailbox on dirt roadRural Health

Rural health is one of the primary areas of research and policy analysis within the Cutler Institute, addressing critical, policy-relevant issues in healthcare access and financing, rural hospitals, and behavioral heath. Contact Andrew Coburn for more information.


PHHP Projects

PHHP Publications

News & Events

photo: Karen Pearson with Community Paramedicine poster at EMS Conference in Rockland, ME
Karen Pearson and George Shaler of the USM Muskie School presented findings from their evaluation of the Maine EMS Community Paramedicine Pilot Program at the EMS Conference in Rockland on November 13, 2015. The Community Paramedicine Pilot Program is comprised of 12 pilot sites located across the state of Maine. Community Paramedicine is the practice by an emergency medical services (EMS) provider in an out-of-hospital setting, providing patient evaluation and treatment within their scope of practice, directed at preventing or improving a medical condition as requested or directed by a physician. Pearson and Shaler found that, overall, Maine's Pilot Program highlighted the need for innovative solutions to integrating care coordination for patients with chronic conditions or who are at high risk for re-hospitalization.
Jean Talbot, Research Associate with the Maine Rural Health Research Center, and colleagues have published their study of the role of rural residence and single motherhood as risk factors for smoking. Their findings indicate that rural mothers are significantly more likely than their urban counterparts to be smokers, smoke frequently, and smoke heavily, even after adjusting for factors known to increase smoking risk. Talbot suggests that policymakers should consider methods for extending insurance coverage for smoking cessation interventions through the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid. Additionally, anti-smoking initiatives at the local, state, and national levels could play an important role in decreasing rural-urban disparities in smoking-related morbidity and mortality.
John Gale and Jennifer Lenardson, research associates at the Maine Rural Health Research Center, University of Southern Maine will present a webinar June 25, 2015 at 1pm ET in which they will provide an overview of their research on the prevalence of opioid use disorders in rural and urban settings and discuss issues with regard to workforce and providing treatment. They will be joined in the webinar by Holly Andrilla from the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center. The one-hour webinar is free and open to the public. Log in information: https://hrsa.connectsolutions.com/gateway_rural_opioid_research/ Enter as a guest and type your name. Use your phone and call 888-469-2038. Participant passcode: 3363788.
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Cutler Institute awarded $600,000 to help youth raised in foster system

Marty Zanghi

USM's Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy has been awarded a $600,000 grant to help young people raised in Maine's foster system to prepare for college and the workforce.

The money comes from the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of a $5.4 million national effort aimed at youth who are homeless or in either the foster care or juvenile justice systems.

"Many of these young people have suffered abuse or trauma and were raised in poverty and neglect," said Marty Zanghi, the Cutler Center's youth development director.

The money -- including an expected $400,000 more in matching funds -- will pay for contracted work with agencies in the target areas, starting with the greater Portland area and Penobscot, Kennebec and Somerset counties.

Nationally and in Maine, only about 3 percent of people who grow up in the foster care system achieve a college degree, he said.

"It's dramatically lower than the rate for the general population," Zanghi said. "It's a horrible outcome."

It doesn't have to be that way, though.

"There are young people that overcome these circumstances," he said. "I know people who have master's degrees and Ph.Ds."

The Casey Foundation's national effort is being called the "Learn and Earn to Achieve Potential" (LEAP) initiative.

The initiative is working on partnerships in Maine and nine other areas: Alaska, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and New York. In each case, people will adapt two evidence-based models to meet the needs of these youth, including support to address the trauma they may have experienced in their lives.

In Maine, the work will include a pair of successful programs, Jobs for Maine Graduates (JMG) and Jobs for the Future. Results will be carefully tracked, Zanghi said.

After the first year, the program is expected to grow.

"Eventually, the additional help will be available to all children, 14 and over, in the foster care system in the state of Maine," Zanghi said.

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