In This Section

handleys [at]
Location - People View
Room 19362

2716 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
United States

Research Topics
Sara Handley, MD, MSCE
Sara C. Handley
Instructor, Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Handley is a health services researcher focused on evaluating the impact of the perinatal health care system on outcomes. Perinatal factors in her research include regionalization (i.e. levels of care), organizational culture (i.e. patient-centered care), and neonatal care processes.



Subscribe to be notified of changes or updates to this page.


Dr. Handley is an epidemiologist and health services researcher who focuses on the perinatal health care system and its impact on perinatal outcomes and outcome variation. Perinatal health system factors in her research include perinatal regionalization (i.e. levels of care, risk-appropriate care delivery, birth volume), organizational culture (i.e. perinatal patient-centered care), and neonatal care processes (i.e. resuscitation, umbilical cord management at birth). Her research leverages population-based datasets with high-generalizability to understand the landscape of care delivery as well as targeted surveys to gain insight into specific aspects of organizational culture or unit level care practices.

Dr. Handley has expertise on the integration of organizational theory into perinatal research. Organizational theory and practice suggest that organizational culture (the shared beliefs, perceptions, and values in an organization) drive outcomes and outcome variation. Following this line of inquiry, Dr. Handley developed a scale to measure the culture of perinatal patient-centered care in the hospital setting, which will aid in the study of organizational factors in perinatal care and identification of potential improvement opportunities.

Although trained as a neonatologist, Dr. Handley is interested in the interrelated health of the infant and mother. Her studies consider the intersection and interaction of organizational factors in maternal and neonatal care and the impact on the mother, infant, and mother-infant dyad as a whole. She conducts this work in conjunction with colleagues and experts in neonatology, maternal-fetal medicine, biostatistics, and health care management.

Education and Training

BA, St. Olaf College (Chemistry), 2007

MD, University of Minnesota Medical School, 2012

Intern and Resident, University of California San Francisco (General Pediatrics), 2015

Fellow, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine), 2018

MSCE, University of Pennsylvania, 2019

Titles and Academic Titles

Instructor, Department of Pediatrics

Associate Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics

Attending Neonatologist

Professional Memberships

American Academy of Pediatrics, 2012-

Section on Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, American Academy of Pediatrics, 2015-

Society for Pediatric Research (Junior Section Member), 2017-

AcademyHealth, 2021-​

Professional Awards

National Institutes of Health Training Grant, 2017-2019

American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program Young Investigator Award, 2022

Publication Highlights

Handley SC, Passarella M, Martin AE, Lorch SA, Srinivas SK, Nembhard IM. Development and testing of a survey measure of organizational perinatal patient-centered care culture. Health Serv Res. 2022 Feb; PubMed PMID: 35128641
Handley SC, Gallagher K, Breden A, Lindgren E, Lo JY, Son M, Murosko D, Dysart K, Lorch SA, Greenspan J, Culhane JF, Burris HH. Birth Hospital Length of Stay and Rehospitalization During COVID-19. Pediatrics. 2022 Jan; 149(1):e2021053498. PubMed PMID: 34889449
Handley SC, Passarella M, Herrick HM, Interrante JD, Lorch SA, Kozhimannil KB, Phibbs CS, Foglia EE. Birth Volume and Geographic Distribution of US Hospitals With Obstetric Services From 2010 to 2018. JAMA Netw Open. 2021 Oct; 4(10):e2125373. PubMed PMID: 34623408
Handley SC, Passarella M, Srinivas SK, Lorch SA. Identifying individual hospital levels of maternal care using administrative data. BMC Health Serv Res. 2021 Jun; 21(1): 538. PubMed PMID: 34074286
Handley SC, Mullin AM, Elovitz MA, Gerson KD, Montoya-Williams D, Lorch SA, Burris HH. Changes in Preterm Birth Phenotypes and Stillbirth at 2 Philadelphia Hospitals During the SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic, March-June 2020. JAMA. 2021 Jan; 325(1): 87-89. PubMed PMID: 33284323