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Dr. Toni Miles

Professor in the Department of Epidemiology

Toni Miles has a national reputation in the field of minority aging, chronic disease, and health care policy.


Toni Miles, MD, PhD is the first, African American, tenured Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at University of Georgia. Dr. Miles is a highly productive writer (> 150 publications), mentor, teacher, and administrator. She has a national reputation in the field of minority aging, chronic disease, and health care policy. She is a Fellow in both the American Public Health Association (1993) and the Gerontological Society of America (2001); and served as a staffer for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee between 2008 to 2010 working on the Affordable Care Act.The genius of Dr. Miles’ current research is that it reframes bereavement as an issue impacting the population health of the community across the age spectrum. As a result of her leadership, Georgia is first state to measure prevalence of new bereavement among adults aged 18 years and older using the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey. This measurement predates the pandemic and provides state agencies the estimates needed to plan resources. The research leading to BRFSS was supported with extramural grants from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, the Georgia Department of Community Health, and private foundations. The reach of these activities extends into the workforce – a needed and novel application. Bereavement is a factor that contributes to society-wide instability. Responding to this factor has direct application to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals.


Tracking the health impacts of grief: 'People suffer when they lose someone'

October 12, 2021

Cicero once said: "There is no grief which time does not lessen and soften.”More than 2,000 years later, the Roman scholar’s words still resonate for many Americans grieving during the pandemic.

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After COVID losses, widowed young Minnesotans find 'forever friends' online
Star Tribune

June 05, 2021

Surviving spouses can face significant financial challenges as families try getting by on just a fraction of their previous income, said Dr. Toni Miles, a researcher at the University of Georgia College of Public Health. The newly bereaved also face health risks, including a greater likelihood of hospital stays and clinic visits as well as troubles with insomnia.

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Many Americans are celebrating a return to normal life, while others are mourning loved ones lost recently to COVID-19
Chicago Tribune

June 01, 2021

“It’s like being related to the soldier who gets shot before the armistice kicks in,” said Dr. Toni Miles, an epidemiologist at the University of Georgia who studies grief and bereavement. “Everybody else is insanely happy, as they should be, because the war has stopped, but you lost somebody during a period when nobody wants to grieve.”

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The Grief Crisis Is Coming
The New York Times

April 12, 2021

“Grief should be investigated the same way we examine other public health indicators like obesity, smoking and drinking,” said Dr. Toni Miles, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the College of Public Health at the University of Georgia.

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Life in nursing homes and assisted living means waking to a neighbor’s death
The Washington Post

September 03, 2018

“Long-term-care administrators view death as something that might upset residents,” said physician Toni Miles, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of Georgia. “So when someone passes away, doors are closed and the body is wheeled discreetly out the back on a gurney. It’s like that person never existed.”

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Prayers and grief counseling after Covid-19: Trying to promote healing in long-term care

November 13, 2020

"There is a desperate need for psychological services," said Toni Miles, a professor at the University of Georgia's College of Public Health and an expert on grief and bereavement in long-term care settings. She's created two guides to help grieving staffers and residents and is distributing them digitally to more than 400 nursing homes and 1,000 assisted living centers in the state.

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Risk factors for esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and its histological precursor lesions in China: a multicenter cross-sectional study
BMC Cancer

2021Despite research efforts, the causative factors that contribute to esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) in high-risk areas have not yet been understood. In this study, we, therefore, aimed to describe the risk factors associated with ESCC and its precursor lesions.

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A New Measure of Population Health in a Complex Sampling Survey: The 2019 Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey – Unweighted, Weighted, and Imputed Weighted Data
BMC Medical Research Methodology

2021Measuring population health requires a well-defined denominator. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS) is designed to provide one for state-level populations. In 2019, the U.S. state of Georgia tested a new module to study recent bereavement among its 8.1 million residents aged 18 years and older. This is the first population-level assessment of bereavement.

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Reducing Disparities by Restructuring Health Care: Brazil’s Family Health System Shows the Way!
American Journal of Public Health

2021Crafting policies aimed at mitigating disparities is difficult. Instituting them is complex. At every point in the process, politics can derail the plan. Reports assessing policy are often framed as health services research, discounting its real value as a tool. It is possible that a policy can be well crafted, initiated, and not derailed. Health services research is the way to measure disparity reduction.

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Nutritional screening tools for adult cancer patients: A hierarchical Bayesian latent-class meta-analysis
Clinical Nutrition

2021Cancer treatment requires attentiveness to its broader effect on the body. Cancer's effect on appetite, strength, and body composition is contained in the summary term malnutrition. The tools used to detect malnutrition are a critical part of effective cancer care. In clinical care, selection of any specific tool is random. The relative validity of these tools have not been systematically compared.

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How the Collection and Disbursement of Civil Money Penalties Improves Nursing Facility Care Across the United States
Public Policy & Aging Report

2021In 1973, the use of chemical and physical restraints was a widespread and routine practice used by nursing facilities (NFs) to address problematic resident behaviors such as aggressiveness and wandering...At that time, because so little was understood about Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, clinicians could offer little therapeutic support other than prescribing antipsychotics and sedatives...

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Area of Expertise


American Public Health Association : Fellow, 1993 - Present

Gerontological Society of America : Fellow, 2001 - Present

U.S. Senate Finance Committee : Staffer, 2008 - 2010


Howard Universit : Anatomy

Howard University : Medicine

Northwestern University : Biology/Biological Sciences

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