Kathleen Fairfield, MD, MPH, DrPH

Physician Scientist

Research Interests

  • Healthcare delivery science
  • Shared decision making practice and education
  • Practice variation and health care disparities

Dr. Fairfield is a Physician Scientist, and Associate Professor of Medicine, Public Health & Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine. Her education and training includes an A.B. from Bowdoin College, M.D. from Boston University School of Medicine, and internship and residency at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston. She completed the Harvard Medical School fellowship in General Medicine, earning an MPH and DrPH in Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. After serving on the faculty at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Dr. Fairfield joined Maine Medical Center (MMC) in 2002.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic Dr. Fairfield has become involved in leading clinical trials, and is the site Principal Investigator for a vaccine trial for COVID-19.  She submitted a research grant to study testing and vaccine hesitancy among vulnerable populations in Maine, including immigrants and low income rural Mainers.

Dr. Fairfield’s other research is at the intersection of health services research, improvement science in health care delivery, and population health. She is the Principal Investigator for the IMPROVE Study (Improving Maine’s Population Health, Research Impact, Outcomes, Value, and Equity through Education). This work includes analyses of large health care claims, medical records, and health behavior datasets to understand patterns of health care and the complex relationships between health care delivery and population health. Active research projects include analyses of variation in care and outcomes of opioid use, malignancies, and cardiovascular disease as they relate to health behaviors. In order to disseminate this work, Dr. Fairfield co-developed a seven-month Certificate in Health Care Improvement with Dr. Peter Bates and The Dartmouth Institute, aimed at training inter-professional teams about these concepts in the context of local improvement work.

Dr. Fairfield holds several leadership roles, including serving as Co-Director of the Academy at MITE (MMC Institute for Teaching Excellence) and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine for Research and Quality Improvement.  She is also the Director of the Division of Healthcare Delivery Science at MMC. She has received research support from the AHRQ, NIH, PCORI, Maine Cancer Foundation, the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, American Cancer Society, and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

In addition to her research, education and improvement science activities, Dr. Fairfield sees patients and supervises residents in the International Clinic at MMC. She is board certified in Internal Medicine. Dr. Fairfield also volunteers as a primary care provider and Medical Director for the Portland Community Free Clinic.

Fairfield, KM, Black AW, Siewers SE, Lucas FL, Cohen MC, Healey CC, Briggs AC, Han PK, Wennberg JE.   Behavioral Risk Factors and Regional Variation in Cardiovascular Healthcare and Death. Am J Prev Med 2018;54(3):376–384.

Hutchinson RN, Lucas FL, Becker M, Wierman HR, Fairfield KM. Variations in Hospice Utilization and Length of Stay for Medicare Patients with Melanoma. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2017; S0885-3924(17)31085-0.

Hoffman RM, Elmore JG, Pignone MP, Gerstein BS, Levin CA, Fairfield KM. Knowledge and Values for Cancer Screening Decisions:  Results from a National Survey. Patient Education and Counseling 2016;99:624-630.