Peter H. Schwartz, M.D., Ph.D.

Peter H. Schwartz, MD, PhD is a Faculty Investigator at the Indiana University Center for Bioethics.  He is Associate Professor of Medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Associate Professor of Philosophy at Indiana University – Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI).  He practices adult outpatient medicine in the Eskenazi Health System. In the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI), Dr. Schwartz directs the Translational Research Ethics Consultation Service (TREX). and serves as a member of the Bioethics and Subject Advocacy Program (BSAP).

Dr. Schwartz received his B.A. from Harvard College and his Ph.D. in Philosophy and his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.   He completed his residency in Internal Medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, MA.

Dr. Schwartz’s research focuses on patient decision-making and risk communication in prevention and personalized medicine.  His team conducts empirical research on colorectal cancer screening, especially the impact of including quantitative information about risk and benefit in patient decision aids.  Dr. Schwartz has also worked on a project evaluating how to allow patients to control access to personal information in the electronic health record.

In 2010, he received a Cancer Control Career Development Award for Primary Care Physicians from the American Cancer Society.  He is the Principal Investigator for a project funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) entitled “Describing the Comparative Effectiveness of Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests:  The Impact of Quantitative Information.”


Selected papers:

Risk Communication in Prevention and Personalized Medicine

Schwartz PH and Meslin EM. The ethics of information: Absolute risk reduction and patient understanding of screening. Journal of General Internal Medicine 2008; 23(6): 867-870. Available from:

Schwartz PH. Disclosure and rationality: Comparative risk information and decision-making about prevention. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 2009; 30(3): 199-213. Available from:

Schwartz PH. The value of information and the ethics of personal-genomic screening. [Open Peer Commentary] American Journal of Bioethics 2009 Apr;9(4):26-7. Available from:

Schwartz PH. Questioning the quantitative imperative: decision aids, prevention, and the ethics of disclosure. Hastings Center Report 2011 Mar-Apr;41(2):30-9.

Schwartz PH.  Discounting a surgical risk: Data, understanding, and gist.  [Case Commentary] Virtual Mentor: American Medical Association Journal of Ethics, July 2012; 14(7): 532-538.  Available at:


Patient Decision Making about Colorectal Cancer Screening

Schwartz PH, Edenberg E, Barrett PR, Perkins SM, Meslin EM, Imperiale TF. Patient understanding of benefits, risks, and alternatives to screening colonoscopy, Family Medicine 2013; 45(2): 83-9.

Torke AM, Schwartz PH, Holtz LR, Montz K, Sachs GA.  Older adults and forgoing cancer screening: ‘I think it would be strange.’  JAMA Intern Med. 2013; 173(7): 526-531.

Schwartz PH, Muriello PF, Perkins SM, Schmidt KK, Rawl SM, “ Adding natural frequency data to a decision aid for colorectal cancer screening: Results of a randomized trial,”  (Abstract) Medical Decision Making 2014; 34(2): E29-E30.

Schwartz PH, Perkins SM, Schmidt KK, Muriello PF, Althouse S, Rawl SM “Presenting Stool Testing as the default option for colorectal cancer screening: Results of a randomized trial,” (Abstract) Medical Decision Making. 2015; 35(1): E39.


Patient Control of Information in the Electronic Health Record (EHR)

Meslin EM, Alpert SA, Carroll AE, Odell JD, Tierney, WM, Schwartz PH. Giving patients granular control of personal health information: Using an ethics ‘Points to Consider’ to inform informatics system designers. International Journal of Medical Informatics 2013; 82: 1136-1143.

 Tierney WM, Alpert SA, Byrket A, Caine K, Leventhal JC, Meslin EM, Schwartz PH.  Provider responses to patients controlling access to their electronic health records: a prospective cohort study in primary care.  Journal of General Internal Medicine 30 (Suppl 1): S31–7

Schwartz PH, Caine K, Alpert SA, Meslin EM, Carroll AE, Tierney WM. Patient preferences to control access to their electronic health records in a prospective cohort study in primary care.  Journal of General Internal Medicine 30 (Suppl 1):  S25-30.

Meslin EM, Schwartz PH.  How bioethics principles can aid design of electronic health records to accommodate patient granular control.  Journal of General Internal Medicine 30 (Suppl 1): S3-6.


Risk and Disease

Schwartz PH. Risk and disease. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 2008; 51(3): 320-34.

Schwartz PH.  Small tumors as risk factors not disease. Philosophy of Science 2014; 81(5): 986-98  Available from:


Research Ethics

Meslin EM, Schwartz PH. To be or not to be - a research subject. In: Kushner TK, editor. Surviving health care: a manual for patients and their families. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press; 2010. p. 146-62. Available from:

Schwartz PH. Autonomy and consent in biobanks. The Physiologist 2010; 53 (1): 1, 3-7. Available from:


Health, Disease, and Enhancement

Schwartz PH. Defending the distinction between treatment and enhancement. [Open Peer Commentary] American Journal of Bioethics 2005; 5 (3): 17-19. PubMed PMID: 16006367.

Schwartz PH. Decision and discovery in defining 'disease.' In: H. Kincaid and J. McKitrick, eds. Establishing Medical Reality: Essays in the Metaphysics and Epistemology of Biomedical Science. Dordrecht: Springer, 2007. pp. 47-64. Available from:

Schwartz PH. Defining dysfunction: natural selection, design, and drawing a line. Philosophy of Science July 2007;74(3):364-385. Available from:

Schwartz PH.  Reframing the disease debate and defending the Biostatistical Theory, Journal of Medicine and Philosophy (Special issue on Christopher Boorse) 2014; 39(6): 572-89.  Available from:

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