June 20, 2017


Robert C. Smith, MD, MACP is University Distinguished Professor and a Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Michigan State University.  With many publications, awards, and strong grant support, he has been involved in teaching and research in patient-centered communication and in primary care mental health since 1985.

Dr. Smith has been featured on The Today Show as well as interviewed and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Elle, the Ladies Home Journal, Time, and Newsweek. The topics have included training doctors to establish better doctor-patient relationships, chronic pain, unexplained physical symptoms, and mental health problems in medical settings.

He and his colleagues were the first to behaviorally-define the patient-centered interview as a replicable model that can by systematically taught and studied. Later, they showed it was evidence-based in randomized controlled trials.  Dr. Smith and his colleagues have written one of the most popular interviewing textbooks, Smith’s Patient-Centered Interviewing: An Evidence-Based Method (3rd edition, McGraw Hill, 2012); the 4th edition is due for publication in March 2018.  Endorsed by the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare, the text is used in medical schools in the USA and abroad for teaching interviewing and the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Smith’s group also formulated the first behaviorally-defined method to guide medical clinicians in managing mental health and substance use problems. They subsequently demonstrated that the method was effective in two clinical trials and most recently demonstrated that it was easily learned by medical residents. They now are studying how to disseminate the teaching via an outreach program.  A second textbook, Essentials of Psychiatry in Primary Care:  Behavioral Health in the Medical Setting from McGraw-Hill is planned for publication in March 2019 by Dr. Smith and his colleagues.