Bio

Clinical Focus


  • Pediatric Gastroenterology

Academic Appointments


Professional Education


  • Residency: Stanford University Pediatric Residency (2010) CA
  • Internship: Stanford University Pediatric Residency (2008) CA
  • Medical Education: Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (2007) NJ
  • Board Certification: Pediatric Gastroenterology, American Board of Pediatrics (2015)
  • Fellowship: Stanford University - Gastroenterology Department of Pediatrics (2014) CA
  • Board Certification: Pediatrics, American Board of Pediatrics (2010)
  • Fellowship, Lucile Packard Children?s Hospital at Stanford, Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (2014)
  • Fellowship, Clinical Excellence Research Center at Stanford University, Health care innovation (2014)
  • Residency, Lucile Packard Children?s Hospital at Stanford, Pediatrics (2010)
  • MD, University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey - Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Medicine (2007)
  • MPH, Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, Health Policy and Management (2002)
  • BA, University of Pennsylvania, International Relations (1999)

Research & Scholarship

Current Research and Scholarly Interests


My research focuses on improving health care delivery systems for children, adolescents and young adults with chronic illness and their families. I have particular interests in the development of chronic disease self-management skills, assessment of patient reported outcomes, the transition from pediatric to adult-oriented health care, and comprehensive programs to support families caring for a child with chronic illness.

Publications

All Publications


  • Sustained Virologic Remission in an 8-Month-Old Pediatric Patient with Carbamoyl Phosphate Synthetase I Deficiency and Hepatitis C Infection Using Direct Acting Antivirals Prior to Liver Transplant. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition Huang, A. C., Beadles, A., Romero, D., Berquist, W., Bensen, R., Kwo, P., Mckenzie, R. B. 2020

    View details for DOI 10.1097/MPG.0000000000002856

    View details for PubMedID 32732637

  • Procalcitonin as a Predictive Marker for Bacteremia in Children With a Central Line and Fever. Hospital pediatrics Damman, J., Arias, P., Kerner, J., Zhang, K. Y., Dehghan, M., Krishnan, G., Nespor, C., Bensen, R., Park, K. T. 2019

    Abstract

    Unnecessary use of antibiotics is an increasing problem. In this study, we sought to determine the diagnostic accuracy of procalcitonin in predicting bacteremia in children with a central line and fever, and we sought to determine optimal cutoff values to maximize sensitivity and specificity. This is the largest study to date in which procalcitonin is examined as a predictive marker of bacteremia in pediatric patients with a central line and fever.We conducted a retrospective cohort study of children aged 0 to 23 years with a central line and fever of 38°C who had procalcitonin and blood cultures drawn before initiation of antibiotics and had no other identified bacterial infection. Patients were also prospectively monitored via a custom-built electronic medical record dashboard for eligibility.There were 523 patients and >2500 procalcitonin values reviewed for eligibility. Of these, 169 (47%) patients and 335 blood cultures with procalcitonin were included. There were 94 (28%) positive bacterial blood cultures and 241 (72%) negative bacterial blood cultures. In bacteremic cultures, the mean procalcitonin level was 9.96 ± 15.96 ng/mL, and the median procalcitonin level was 4.85 ng/mL (interquartile range 18.5). In nonbacteremic cultures, the mean procalcitonin level was 1.23 ± 10.37 ng/mL, and the median procalcitonin level was 0.3 ng/mL (interquartile range 0.7). A receiver operating characteristic analysis indicated a procalcitonin level of ?0.6 ng/mL as the best cutoff point that produced a sensitivity of 85.6% and a specificity of 65.7% (area under the curve 0.85).Procalcitonin is a sensitive biomarker in predicting bacteremia in children with a central line and fever.

    View details for PubMedID 31097470

  • Foregone Inclusion: Neonatal CMV Hepatitis and Cholestasis. Digestive diseases and sciences Martin, M., Holmes, S., Sim, J., Hassan, M., Mathew, R., Bensen, R., Barakat, M. 2019

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s10620-019-05691-7

    View details for PubMedID 31187327

  • Depression and Healthcare Utilization in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Journal of Crohn's & colitis Wong, J. J., Sceats, L., Dehghan, M., Wren, A. A., Sellers, Z. M., Limketkai, B. N., Bensen, R., Kin, C., Park, K. T. 2018

    Abstract

    Background: Depression frequently co-occurs in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and is a driver in health care costs and utilization.Aim: This study examined the associations between depression and total health care costs, emergency department (ED) visits, computed tomography (CT) scans during ED/inpatient visits, and IBD-related surgery among IBD patients.Methods: Our sample included 331,772 IBD patients from a national administrative claims database (Truven Health MarketScan Database). Gamma and Poisson regression analyses assessed differences related to depression controlling for key variables.Results: Approximately 16% of the IBD cohort was classified as having depression. Depression was associated with a $17,706 (95% CI [$16,892, 18,521]) increase in mean annual IBD-related health care costs and an increased incidence of ED visits (aIRR of 1.5; 95% CI [1.5, 1.6]). Among patients who had ?1 ED/inpatient visits, depression was associated with an increased probability of receiving repeated CT scans (1-4 CT scans aOR of 1.6; 95% CI [1.5, 1.7]; ?5 CT scans aOR 4.6; 95% CI [2.9, 7.3]) and increased odds of undergoing an IBD-related surgery (aOR of 1.2; 95% CI [1.1, 1.2]). Secondary analysis with a pediatric subsample revealed approximately 12% of this cohort was classified as having depression, and depression was associated with increased costs and incidence rates of ED visits and CT scans, but not IBD-related surgery.Conclusion: Quantifiable differences in healthcare costs and patterns of utilization exist among patients with IBD and depression. Integration of mental health services within IBD care may improve overall health outcomes and costs of care.

    View details for PubMedID 30256923

  • Nationwide Trends in Acute and Chronic Pancreatitis Among Privately Insured Children and Non-Elderly Adults in the United States, 2007-2014. Gastroenterology Sellers, Z. M., MacIsaac, D., Yu, H., Dehghan, M., Zhang, K. Y., Bensen, R., Wong, J. J., Kin, C., Park, K. T. 2018

    Abstract

    Epidemiologic analyses of acute and chronic pancreatitis (AP and CP) provide insight into causes and strategies for prevention, and affect allocation of resources to its study and treatment. We sought to determine current and accurate incidences of AP and CP, along with the prevalence of CP, in children and adults in the United States.We collected data from the Truven MarketScan Research Databases of commercial inpatient and outpatient insurance claims in the United States from 2007 through 2014 (patients 0-64 years old). We calculated the incidences of AP and CP, and prevalence of CP, based on International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9) diagnosis codes. Children were defined as 18 years or younger and adults as 19 to 64 years old.The incidence of pediatric AP was stable from 2007 through 2014, remaining at 12.3/100,000 persons in 2014. Meanwhile the incidence for adult AP decreased from 123.7/100,000 persons in 2007 to 111.2/100,000 persons in 2014. The incidence of CP decreased over time in children (2.2/100,000 persons in 2007 to 1.9/100,000 persons in 2014) and adults (31.7/100,000 persons in 2007 to 24.7/100,000 persons in 2014). The prevalence of pediatric and adult CP was 5.8/100,000 persons and 91.9/100,000 persons, respectively in 2014. Incidences of AP and CP increased with age; we found little change in incidence during the first decade of life, but linear increases starting in the second decade.We performed a comprehensive epidemiologic analysis of privately insured non-elderly adults and children with AP and CP in the United States. Changes in gallstone formation, smoking, and alcohol consumption, along with advances in pancreatitis management, may be responsible for the stabilization and even decrease in the incidences of AP and CP.

    View details for PubMedID 29660323

  • Starting Young: Trends in Opioid Therapy Among US Adolescents and Young Adults With Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the Truven MarketScan Database Between 2007 and 2015. Inflammatory bowel diseases Wren, A. A., Bensen, R., Sceats, L., Dehghan, M., Yu, H., Wong, J. J., MacIsaac, D., Sellers, Z. M., Kin, C., Park, K. T. 2018

    Abstract

    Opioids are commonly prescribed for relief in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Emerging evidence suggests that adolescents and young adults are a vulnerable population at particular risk of becoming chronic opioid users and experiencing adverse effects.This study evaluates trends in the prevalence and persistence of chronic opioid therapy in adolescents and young adults with IBD in the United States.A longitudinal retrospective cohort analysis was conducted with the Truven MarketScan Database from 2007 to 2015. Study subjects were 15-29 years old with ?2 IBD diagnoses (Crohn's: 555/K50; ulcerative colitis: 556/K51). Opioid therapy was identified with prescription claims within the Truven therapeutic class 60: opioid agonists. Persistence of opioid use was evaluated by survival analysis for patients who remained in the database for at least 3 years following index chronic opioid therapy use.In a cohort containing 93,668 patients, 18.2% received chronic opioid therapy. The annual prevalence of chronic opioid therapy increased from 9.3% in 2007 to 10.8% in 2015 (P < 0.01), peaking at 12.2% in 2011. Opioid prescriptions per patient per year were stable (approximately 5). Post hoc Poisson regression analyses demonstrated that the number of opioid pills dispensed per year increased with age and was higher among males. Among the 2503 patients receiving chronic opioid therapy and followed longitudinally, 30.5% were maintained on chronic opioid therapy for 2 years, and 5.3% for all 4 years.Sustained chronic opioid use in adolescents and young adults with IBD is increasingly common, underscoring the need for screening and intervention for this vulnerable population.

    View details for PubMedID 29986015

  • Diabetes Device Use in Adults With Type 1 Diabetes: Barriers to Uptake and Potential Intervention Targets. Diabetes care Tanenbaum, M. L., Hanes, S. J., Miller, K. M., Naranjo, D., Bensen, R., Hood, K. K. 2017; 40 (2): 181-187

    Abstract

    Diabetes devices (insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors [CGMs]) are associated with benefits for glycemic control, yet uptake of these devices continues to be low. Some barriers to device uptake may be modifiable through psychosocial intervention, but little is known about which barriers and which patients to target.We surveyed 1,503 adult T1D Exchange participants (mean age 35.3 [SD 14.8] years, mean diagnosis duration 20.4 [SD 12.5] years) to investigate barriers to device uptake, understand profiles of device users versus nonusers, and explore differences by age and sex. Scales used were the Diabetes Distress Scale, Technology Use Attitudes (General and Diabetes-Specific), and Barriers to Device Use and Reasons for Discontinuing Devices.Most commonly endorsed modifiable barriers were related to the hassle of wearing devices (47%) and disliking devices on one's body (35%). CGM users (37%) were older than nonusers (mean 38.3 vs. 33.5 years), had diabetes for longer (22.9 vs. 18.8 years), had more positive technology attitudes (22.6-26.0 vs. 21.4-24.8), and reported fewer barriers to using diabetes technology than nonusers (3.3 vs. 4.3). The youngest age-group (18-25 years) had the lowest CGM (26% vs. 40-48%) and insulin pump (64% vs. 69-77%) uptake, highest diabetes distress (2.2 vs. 1.8-2.1), and highest HbA1c levels (8.3% [67 mmol/mol] vs. 7.2-7.4% [55-57 mmol/mol]).Efforts to increase device use need to target physical barriers to wearing devices. Because young adults had the lowest device uptake rates, highest distress, and highest HbA1c compared with older age-groups, they should be the focus of future interventions to increase device use.

    View details for DOI 10.2337/dc16-1536

    View details for PubMedID 27899489

  • Implementation of Depression Screening and Global Health Assessment in Pediatric Subspecialty Clinics. The Journal of adolescent health : official publication of the Society for Adolescent Medicine Iturralde, E., Adams, R. N., Barley, R. C., Bensen, R., Christofferson, M., Hanes, S. J., Maahs, D. M., Milla, C., Naranjo, D., Shah, A. C., Tanenbaum, M. L., Veeravalli, S., Park, K. T., Hood, K. K. 2017

    Abstract

    Adolescents with chronic illness face greater risk of psychosocial difficulties, complicating disease management. Despite increased calls to screen for patient-reported outcomes, clinical implementation has lagged. Using quality improvement methods, this study aimed to investigate the feasibility of standardized screening for depression and assessment of global health and to determine recommended behavioral health follow-up, across three pediatric subspecialty clinics.A total of 109 patients aged 12-22 years (median = 16.6) who were attending outpatient visits for treatment of diabetes (80% type 1), inflammatory bowel disease, or cystic fibrosis completed the 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) depression and Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) Pediatric Global Health measures on electronic tablets. Patients screening positive on the PHQ-9 received same-day behavioral health assessment and regular phone check-ins to facilitate necessary follow-up care.Overall, 89% of 122 identified patients completed screening during a 6-month window. Patients completed measures in a timely manner (within 3 minutes) without disruption to clinic flow, and they rated the process as easy, comfortable, and valuable. Depression scores varied across disease type. Patients rated lower global health relative to a previously assessed validation cohort. Depression and global health related significantly to certain medical outcomes. Fifteen percent of patients screened positive on the PHQ-9, of whom 50% confirmed attending behavioral health appointments within 6 months of screening.A standardized depression and global health assessment protocol implemented across pediatric subspecialties was feasible and effective. Universal behavioral health screening for adolescents and young adults living with chronic disease is necessary to meet programmatic needs in pediatric subspecialty clinics.

    View details for PubMedID 28830798

  • Near-Fatal Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage in a Child with Medulloblastoma on High Dose Dexamethasone. Cureus Yecies, D., Tawfik, D., Damman, J., Thorson, C., Hong, D. S., Grant, G. A., Bensen, R., Damian, M. 2017; 9 (7): e1442

    Abstract

    A four-year-old female was admitted to a university-based children's hospital with a newly-diagnosed posterior fossa tumor. She was started on famotidine and high-dose dexamethasone and underwent gross total resection of a medulloblastoma. She was continued on dexamethasone and famotidine. She exhibited postoperative posterior fossa syndrome and was started on enteral feeds via the nasoduodenal tube. She had small gastrointestinal bleeds on postoperative days eight, 11, and 18, and was found to have a well-circumscribed posterior duodenal ulcer. On postoperative day 19, she suffered a massive life-threatening gastrointestinal bleed requiring aggressive resuscitation with blood products. She required an emergent laparotomy due to ongoing blood loss and she was found to have posterior duodenal wall erosion into her gastroduodenal artery. She recovered and subsequently began delayed chemotherapy. This case demonstrates a rare and life-threatening complication of high-dose dexamethasone therapy in the setting of posterior fossa pathology despite stress ulcer prophylaxis. We present a historical perspective with the review of the association between duodenal and intracranial pathology and the usage of high-dose dexamethasone in such cases.

    View details for PubMedID 28924528

  • Spanish and English Language Symposia to Enhance Activation in Pediatric Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition Martin, M., Garcia, M., Christofferson, M., Bensen, R., Yeh, A. M., Park, K. T. 2016; 63 (5): 508-511

    Abstract

    Patient activation is an important consideration for improved health outcomes in the management of chronic diseases. Limited English proficiency (LEP) among patients and primary care providers has been shown to be a predictor for worse health across disease states. We aimed to determine the baseline patient activation measure (PAM) among Spanish-speaking (SP) and English-speaking (ES) pediatric IBD patients and parents, and to describe the feasibility and efficacy of a novel peer-group education symposium designed to enhance patient activation as measured with the PAM.Two separate half-day educational symposia in either Spanish or English were presented and moderated by 2 native Spanish-speaking physicians. Content for each of the presentations were highly standardized and interactive, designed to address each of the activation domains (self-management, collaboration with a health care provider, maintenance of function and prevention of disease exacerbation, and appropriate access to high-quality care). Descriptive statistics were used to describe changes between pre- and post-symposium PAM trends.11 primarily SP and 21 ES families participated in their respective symposium. Paired pre- and post-PAM scores were available from 24 pediatric IBD patients (8 SP; 16 ES) and 41 parents (15 SP; 26 ES). The mean age for SP and ES patients was 11.6 and 12.0 years, and female gender in 80% and 62%, respectively. Paired pre- and post-PAM scores for all participants (n?=?65) were analyzed. PAM scores uniformly increased in all 4 groups after the symposia (SP-patients 59.1 to 70.3, P?=?0.05; SP-parents 69.8 to 75.2, P?=?0.2; ES-patients 59.9 to 64.0, P?=?0.08; ES-parents 61.9 to 69.1, P?=?0.002), although only the ES-parents group had sufficient sample size (n?=?26) to achieve statistical significance. The overall cohort had an aggregate increase from pre-PAM of 62.9 (SD 14.5) to post-PAM of 69.4 (SD 13.9) (<0.001).We describe a novel peer-group educational symposium presented in Spanish and English languages to increase patient and parent activation in pediatric IBD patients and their care-giving parents. The use of PAM to assess levels of activation appears to be feasible and effective in these groups.

    View details for PubMedID 27031374

  • Transitions in Pediatric Gastroenterology: Results of a National Provider Survey. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition Bensen, R., McKenzie, R. B., Fernandes, S. M., Fishman, L. N. 2016; 63 (5): 488-493

    Abstract

    Transition and transfer to adult-oriented health care is an important yet challenging task for adolescents and young adults with chronic medical conditions. Transition practices vary widely, but a paucity of data makes determination of best practices difficult. We describe North American pediatric gastroenterologists' preferences and current transition practice patterns and explore whether experience affects providers' perspectives.An on-line survey was distributed via email to members of the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NASPGHAN). Participation was voluntary and answers were anonymous. Quantitative and qualitative analysis was performed.Almost three quarters of the 175 respondents describe providing transition or self-care management education, but only 23% use structured readiness assessments. Most respondents (88%) report having age cut-offs above which they no longer accept new referrals, with the most common age being 18 years (57%). One third report the ability to provide age-appropriate care to patients over age 21 years. Only 6% indicate that their practice or institution should provide care for individuals over age 25 years. Many (63%) indicate that their practice or institution has a policy regarding age of transfer, but most (79%) are flexible. Provider preferences for triggers to transfer to adult care diverge widely between age, milestones and comorbidities. Overall, parent (81%) and patient (74%) attachment to pediatric healthcare providers are cited as the most common barriers to transition.Preferences and practices surrounding transition preparation and transfer to adult care vary widely, reflecting continued uncertainty regarding optimal transition strategies.

    View details for PubMedID 27027904

  • Better health, less spending: Redesigning the transition from pediatric to adult healthcare for youth with chronic illness. Healthcare (Amsterdam, Netherlands) Vaks, Y., Bensen, R., Steidtmann, D., Wang, T. D., Platchek, T. S., Zulman, D. M., Malcolm, E., Milstein, A. 2016; 4 (1): 57-68

    Abstract

    Adolescents and young adults (AYA) with serious chronic illnesses face costly and dangerous gaps in care as they transition from pediatric to adult health systems. New, financially sustainable approaches to transition are needed to close these gaps. We designed a new transition model for adolescents and young adults with a variety of serious chronic conditions. Our explicit goal was to build a model that would improve the value of care for youth 15-25 years of age undergoing this transition. The design process incorporated a review, analysis, and synthesis of relevant clinical and health services research; stakeholder interviews; and observations of high-performing healthcare systems. We identified three major categories of solutions for a safer and lower cost transition to adult care: (1) building and supporting self-management during the critical transition; (2) engaging receiving care; and (3) providing checklist-driven guide services during the transition. We propose that implementation of a program with these interventions would have a positive impact on all three domains of the triple aim - improving health, improving the experience of care, and reducing per capita healthcare cost. The transition model provides a general framework as well as suggestions for specific interventions. Pilot tests to assess the model's ease of implementation, clinical effects, and financial impact are currently underway.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2015.09.001

    View details for PubMedID 27001100

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4805882

  • Legislative advocacy: evaluation of a grand rounds intervention for pediatricians. Academic pediatrics Bensen, R., Roman, H., Bersamin, M., Lu, Y., Horwitz, S., Chamberlain, L. J. 2014; 14 (2): 181-185

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.acap.2013.08.004

    View details for PubMedID 24126045

  • Geographical Rural Status and Health Outcomes in Pediatric Liver Transplantation: An Analysis of 6 Years of National United Network of Organ Sharing Data JOURNAL OF PEDIATRICS Park, K. T., Bensen, R., Lu, B., Nanda, P., Esquivel, C., Cox, K. 2013; 162 (2): 313-?

    Abstract

    To determine whether children in rural areas have worse health than children in urban areas after liver transplantation (LT).We used urban influence codes published by the US Department of Agriculture to categorize 3307 pediatric patients undergoing LT in the United Network of Organ Sharing database between 2004 and 2009 as urban or rural. Allograft rejection, patient death, and graft failure were used as primary outcome measures of post-LT health. Pediatric end-stage liver disease/model of end-stage liver disease scores >20 was used to measure worse pre-LT health.In a multivariate analysis, we found greater rates of allograft rejection within 6 months of LT (OR 1.27; 95% CI 1.05-1.53) and a lower occurrence of posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disorder (OR 0.64; 95% CI 0.41-0.99) in patients in rural areas. The difference in allograft rejection was eliminated at 1 year of LT (OR 1.18; 95% CI 0.98-1.42). Rural location did not impact other outcome measures.We conclude that rural location makes a negative impact on patient health within the first 6 months of LT by increasing the risk for allograft rejection, although patients in rural areas may have lower rates of developing posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disorder. Long-term adverse health effects were not seen.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2012.07.015

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313579900021

    View details for PubMedID 22914224

  • Effects of rural status on health outcomes in pediatric liver transplantation: A single center analysis of 388 patients PEDIATRIC TRANSPLANTATION Park, K. T., Nanda, P., Bensen, R., Strichartz, D., Esquivel, C., Cox, K. 2011; 15 (3): 300-305

    Abstract

    Rural status of patients may impact health before and after pediatric LT. We used UI codes published by the USDA to stratify patients as urban or rural depending county residence. A total of 388 patients who had LT and who met criteria were included. Rejection, PTLD, and survival were used as primary outcome measures of post-LT health. UNOS Status 1 and PELD/MELD scores >20 were used as secondary outcome measures of poorer pre-LT health. Logistic regression models were run to determine associations. We did not find any statistically significant differences in pre- or post-LT outcomes with respect to rurality. Among rural patients, there was a general trend for decreased incidence of rejection (25.0% vs. 33.4%; OR 0.64, 95% CI 0.29-1.44), increased risk of PTLD (5.6% vs. 3.4%; OR 1.86, 95% CI 0.36-3.31), and decreased survival (OR 0.85, 95% CI 0.34-2.13) after LT. Rural patients also tended to be sicker at the time of LT than patients from urban areas, with increased proportion of Status 1 (OR 1.17, 95% CI 0.51-2.70) and PELD/MELD scores >20 (OR 1.20, 95% CI 0.59-2.45). From a single center experience, we conclude that rurality did not significantly affect health outcomes after LT, although a larger study may validate the general trends that rural patients may have decreased rejection, increased PTLD, and mortality, and be in poorer health at the time of LT.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.1399-3046.2010.01452.x

    View details for Web of Science ID 000289628100018

    View details for PubMedID 21450010

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