Dr. Marzena Sasnal is a qualitative & mixed method-oriented social scientist and methodologist, experienced in migration, health services, and education research with publication record, grant support, and project management expertise. She holds a BA in international relations and affairs, an MA in sociology, and a PhD in social sciences. Dr. Sasnal currently works as Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Research on Education Outcomes (CREDO) and is thrilled to contribute to research aiming to improve education. Before joining CREDO, she was a senior researcher at The Stanford-Surgery Policy Improvement Research and Education (S-SPIRE) Center for several years, collaborating with multidisciplinary teams to improve the value of healthcare through research that informs policy and implementation. She also served as a qualitative methodologist, providing instruction and consultation on research methods and techniques. Previously, she studied the adaptation processes of highly skilled migrants in Silicon Valley as a part of her doctoral dissertation.

Current Role at Stanford

Senior Research Analyst I Qualitative & Mixed-Methods

Education & Certifications

  • PhD, University of Wroclaw, Poland, Social Sciences (Sociology), concentration: Sociology of Migration (2019)
  • MA, University of Wroclaw, Poland, Sociology, concentration: Communication and Market Research (2010)
  • BA, University of Wroclaw, Poland, International Relations and Affairs, concentration: International Economic Relations (2009)

Professional Interests

- Qualitative & Mixed-Methods
- Public Health & Health Services Research
- Assessment & Evaluation Methods/Techniques
- Implementation Science
- Education Research
- Market Research
- User Experience (UX) Research
- Migration of Highly Skilled

All Publications

  • Strategies to Improve Perioperative Palliative Care Integration for Seriously Ill Veterans. Journal of pain and symptom management Giannitrapani, K. F., Sasnal, M., McCaa, M., Wu, A., Morris, A. M., Connell, N. B., Aslakson, R. A., Schenker, Y., Shreve, S., Lorenz, K. A. 2023


    CONTEXT: Seriously ill patients are at higher risk for adverse surgical outcomes. Palliative care (PC) interventions for seriously ill surgical patients are associated with improved quality of patient care and patient-centered outcomes, yet, they are underutilized perioperatively.OBJECTIVES: To identify strategies for improving perioperative PC integration for seriously ill Veterans from the perspectives of PC providers and surgeons.METHODS: We conducted semi-structured, in-depth individual and group interviews with Veteran Health Administration PC team members and surgeons between July 2020 and April 2021. Participants were purposively sampled from high- and low-collaboration sites based on the proportion of received perioperative palliative consults. We performed a team-based thematic analysis with dual coding (inter-rater reliability above 0.8).RESULTS: Interviews with 20 interdisciplinary PC providers and 13 surgeons at geographically distributed Veteran Affairs sites converged on four strategies for improving palliative care integration and goals of care conversations in the perioperative period: (1) develop and maintain collaborative, trusting relationships between palliative care providers and surgeons; (2) establish risk assessment processes to identify patients who may benefit from a PC consult; (3) involve both PC providers and surgeons at the appropriate time in the perioperative workflow; (4) provide sufficient resources to allow for an interdisciplinary sharing of care.CONCLUSION: The study demonstrates that individual, programmatic, and organizational efforts could facilitate interservice collaboration between PC clinicians and surgeons.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2023.08.021

    View details for PubMedID 37643653

  • Evaluating Emergency Medicaid Program Policy Changes During the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Journal of surgical research Handley, T. J., Boncompagni, A. C., Arnow, K., Sasnal, M., Day, H. S., Trickey, A., Morris, A. M., Knowlton, L. M. 2023; 289: 97-105


    Trauma patients are twice as likely to be uninsured as the general population, which can lead to limited access to postinjury resources and higher mortality. The Hospital Presumptive Eligibility (HPE) program offers emergency Medicaid for eligible patients at presentation. The HPE program underwent several changes during the COVID-19 pandemic; we quantify the program's success during this time and seek to understand features associated with HPE approval.A mixed methods study at a Level I trauma center using explanatory sequential design, including: 1) a retrospective cohort analysis (2015-2021) comparing HPE approval before and after COVID-19 policy changes; and 2) semistructured interviews with key stakeholders.589 patients listed as self-pay or Medicaid presented after March 16, 2020, when COVID-19 policies were first implemented. Of these, 409 (69%) patients were already enrolled in Medicaid at hospitalization. Among those uninsured at arrival, 160 (89%) were screened and 98 (61%) were approved for HPE. This marks a significant improvement in the prepandemic HPE approval rate (48%). In adjusted logistic regression analyses, the COVID-19 period was associated with an increased likelihood of HPE approval (versus prepandemic: aOR, 1.64; P = 0.005). Qualitative interviews suggest that mechanisms include state-based expansion in HPE eligibility and improvements in remote approval such as telephone/video conferencing.The HPE program experienced an overall increased approval rate and adapted to policy changes during the pandemic, enabling more patients' access to health insurance. Ensuring that these beneficial changes remain a part of our health policy is an important aspect of improving access to health insurance for our patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jss.2023.03.030

    View details for PubMedID 37086602

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC10043965

  • "It's Not Us Versus Them": Building Cross-Disciplinary Relationships in the Perioperative Period. Journal of pain and symptom management Sasnal, M., Lorenz, K. A., McCaa, M., Wu, A., Morris, A. M., Schenker, Y., Shreve, S. T., Giannitrapani, K. F. 2023


    CONTEXT: Palliative care (PC) interventions improve quality outcomes for surgical patients, yet they are underutilized in the perioperative period. Developing cross-disciplinary provider relationships increases PC consults. However, the attributes of collaborative relationships and how they evolve are unclear.OBJECTIVES: To identify perceptions of PC providers and surgeons on how collaborative cross-disciplinary relationships are built and maintained in the perioperative period.METHODS: This cross-sectional multiphase qualitative study included 23 semi-structured interviews with 10 PC teams (20 providers) and 13 surgeons at geographically distributed Veteran Health Administration (VHA) sites. An analytic approach relied on team-based thematic analysis with a dual review.RESULTS: Respondents defined successful collaborative work relationships between PC and surgeons as having the following features: (1) mutual trust; (2) mutual respect; (3) perceived usefulness; (4) shared clinical objectives; (5) effective communication; and (6) organizational enablers. In addition, the analysis elucidated a framework of six strategies for developing collaborative relationships between PC and surgical teams in the perioperative period: (1) Being present, available, and responsive; (2) Understanding roles; (3) Establishing communication; (4) Recognizing an intermediary and connecting role of supporting team members; (5) Working as a team; and (6) Building on previous experiences.CONCLUSIONS: The study informs future interventions to improve the quality of care for seriously ill patients by better-involving palliative care in the perioperative period. Future work will extend this approach to incorporate the perspectives of patients on their providers' collaboration and how it impacts patient-related outcomes at the intersection of PC and surgery.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2022.12.140

    View details for PubMedID 36646332

  • 'Mixing Different Traditions and Picking What's Best': Characteristics and Migration Experiences of Polish High-Tech Professionals in Silicon Valley CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPEAN MIGRATION REVIEW Sasnal, M. 2023; 12 (1): 201-224
  • Faculty Lead Coaching as a Method to Enhance Feedback Culture and Communication Skills Development in Surgical Education-Needs Assessment (Study in Progress) Nassar, A., Sasnal, M., Tung, J., Ko, A., Esquivel, M., Knowlton, L. LIPPINCOTT WILLIAMS & WILKINS. 2022: S74
  • Patient Perspectives on Recovery and Information Needs After Surgery: A Qualitative Study of Veterans. The Journal of surgical research Sasnal, M., Langston, A. H., Morris, A. M., Harris, A. H., Arya, S. 2022; 279: 765-773


    INTRODUCTION: Little is known about patients' postoperative emotional and social functioning and preferences for recovery settings. This qualitative study explores patients' perspectives on factors influencing postoperative recovery, including the proportion of time recovering at home (home time) and unmet information needs.METHODS: Semistructured interviews were conducted between September and December 2020 with veteran patients aged 65y or older who underwent surgery at a single hospital. A purposeful sampling strategy was used to identify patients with a broad representation of major operations and various amounts of home time. One-hour interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and anonymized for analysis. A rigorous team-based in-depth thematic analysis was performed. Validation techniques to enhance the quality and credibility of the study included triangulation, independent coding, and search for disconfirming evidence.RESULTS: Twelve patients were interviewed (11 [91.7%] males; mean (standard deviation) age, 72.3 [4.8] y). Five factors that influenced the recovery process emerged: (1) professional support services, (2) informal caregiver support, (3) environment for recovery, (4) individual traits, and (5) physical and functional impairments. The analysis also elucidated four unmet information needs regarding recovery: (1) personalized and detailed information, (2) anticipated recovery time, (3) possible complications, and (4) comprehensive information about discharge location options.CONCLUSIONS: The study demonstrated that patients recovering from surgery require wide-ranging levels of support to meet their unique needs and preferences. Patients value easy-to-understand and personalized information about recovery from providers. These findings may be helpful to develop strategies that better support patients in their postoperative recovery and post-acute care transition pathways.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jss.2022.06.050

    View details for PubMedID 35944331

  • Developing a multi-departmental residency communication coaching program. Education for health (Abingdon, England) Nassar, A. K., Sasnal, M., Miller-Kuhlmann, R. K., Jensen, R. M., Blankenburg, R. L., Rassbach, C. E., Smith-Bentley, M., Vyas, A., Korndorffer, J. R., Gold, C. A. 2022; 35 (3): 98-104


    Local needs assessments in our institution's surgery and neurology residency programs identified barriers to effective communication, such as no shared communication framework and limited feedback on nontechnical clinical skills. Residents identified faculty-led coaching as a desired educational intervention to improve communication skills. Three university departments (Surgery, Neurology, and Pediatrics) and health-care system leaders collaborated closely to develop an innovative communication coaching initiative generalizable to other residency programs.Coaching program development involved several layers of collaboration between health-care system leaders, faculty educators, and departmental communication champions. The efforts included: (1) creating and delivering communication skills training to faculty and residents; (2) hosting frequent meetings among various stakeholders to develop program strategy, discuss opportunities and learnings, and engage other medical educators interested in coaching; (3) obtaining funding to implement the coaching initiative; (4) selecting coaches and providing salary and training support.A multi-phased mixed-methods study utilized online surveys and virtual semi-structured interviews to assess the program's quality and impact on the communication culture and the satisfaction and communication skills of residents. Quantitative and qualitative data have been integrated during data collection and analysis using embedding, building, and merging strategies.Establishing a multi-departmental coaching program may be feasible and can be adapted by other programs if similar resources and focus are present. We found that stakeholders' buy-in, financial support, protected faculty time, flexible approach, and rigorous evaluation are crucial factors in successfully implementing and sustaining such an initiative.

    View details for DOI 10.4103/efh.efh_357_22

    View details for PubMedID 37313890

  • Perspectives on Home Time and Its Association With Quality of Life After Inpatient Surgery Among US Veterans. JAMA network open Arya, S., Langston, A. H., Chen, R., Sasnal, M., George, E. L., Kashikar, A., Barreto, N. B., Trickey, A. W., Morris, A. M. 1800; 5 (1): e2140196


    Importance: Home time, defined as time spent at home after hospital discharge, is emerging as a novel, patient-oriented outcome in stroke recovery and end-of-life care. Longer home time is associated with lower mortality and higher patient satisfaction. However, a knowledge gap exists in the measurement and understanding of home time in the population undergoing surgery.Objectives: To examine the association between postoperative home time and quality of life (QoL), functional status, and decisional regret and to identify themes regarding the meaning of time spent at home after surgery.Design, Setting, and Participants: This mixed-methods study including a survey and qualitative interviews used an explanatory sequential design involving 152 quantitative surveys followed by in-depth interviews with 12 participants from February 26, 2020, to December 17, 2020. US veterans older than 65 years who underwent inpatient surgery at a single-center veterans hospital within the prior 6 to 12 months were studied.Exposures: Quality of life, measured by the Veterans RAND 12-item Health Survey and 19-item Control, Autonomy, Self-realization, and Pleasure scale; functional status, measured by activities of daily living (ADL) and instrumental ADL scales; and regret, measured by the Decision Regret Scale.Main Outcomes and Measures: Home time, standardized as percentage of total time spent at home from the time of surgery to the time of survey administration. Associations between home time and QoL, function, and decisional regret in the survey data were analyzed using Spearman correlation in the overall cohort and in operative stress score subcohorts (1-2 [low] vs 3-5 [high]) in a stratified analysis. The 12 semistructured interviews were analyzed to elicit patients' perspectives on home time in postoperative recovery. Qualitative data were coded and analyzed using content and thematic analysis and integrated with quantitative data in joint displays.Results: A total of 152 patients (mean [SD] age, 72.3 [4.4] years; 146 [96.0%] male) were surveyed, and 12 patients (mean [SD] age, 72.3 [4.8] years; 11 [91.7%] male) were interviewed. The median time to survey completion was 307 days (IQR, 265-344 days). The median home time was 97.8% (IQR, 94.6%-98.6%; range, 22.2%-99.5%). Increased home time was associated with better physical health-related QoL in the Veterans RAND 12-item Health Survey (r=0.33; 95% CI, 0.18-0.47; P<.001) and higher ADL scores (r=0.21; 95% CI, 0.06-0.36; P=.008) and instrumental ADL functional scores (r=0.21; 95% CI, 0.04-0.37; P=.009). Decisional regret was inversely associated with home time in only the high operative stress score subcohort (r=-0.22; 95% CI, -0.47 to -0.04; P=.047). Home was perceived as a safe and familiar environment that accelerated recovery through nurturing support of loved ones.Conclusions and Relevance: In this mixed-methods study including a survey and qualitative interviews, increased home time in the first year after major surgery was associated with improved daily function and physical QoL among US veterans. Interviewees considered the transition to home to be an indicator of recovery, suggesting that home time may be a promising, patient-oriented quality outcome measure for surgical recovery that warrants further study.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.40196

    View details for PubMedID 35015066

  • “They Don't Have to Love Us or Even Like Us, but They Have to See that We Benefit the Patient and Family Dynamic”: Palliative Care Teams on Relationships with Surgeons (GP703) Journal of Pain and Symptom Management Giannitrapani, K., Sasnal, M., McCaa, M., Morris, A., Lorenz, K. 2022; 63 (6): 1113
  • Evaluating the Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Emergency Medicaid Programs: Have Insurance Rates Improved among Trauma Patients? Handley, T., Boncompagni, A. C., Arnow, K. D., Sasnal, M., Trickey, A. W., Morris, A. M., Knowlton, L. M. 2022: 235(5):p
  • Strategies to Improve Perioperative Quality of Care Through Palliative Care (S525) Journal of Pain and Symptom Management Giannitrapani, K., McCaa, M., Sasnal, M., Morris, A., Connell, N., Schenker, Y., Lorenz, K. 2022; 63 (5): 918-919
  • COVID-19 Impact on Surgical Resident Education and Coping. The Journal of surgical research Wise, C. E., Bereknyei Merrell, S. n., Sasnal, M. n., Forrester, J. D., Hawn, M. T., Lau, J. N., Lin, D. T., Schmiederer, I. S., Spain, D. A., Nassar, A. K., Knowlton, L. M. 2021; 264: 534–43


    Healthcare systems and surgical residency training programs have been significantly affected by the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. A shelter-in-place and social distancing mandate went into effect in our county on March 16, 2020, considerably altering clinical and educational operations. Along with the suspension of elective procedures, resident academic curricula transitioned to an entirely virtual platform. We aimed to evaluate the impact of these modifications on surgical training and resident concerns about COVID-19.We surveyed residents and fellows from all eight surgical specialties at our institution regarding their COVID-19 experiences from March to May 2020. Residents completed the survey via a secure Qualtrics link. A total of 38 questions addressed demographic information and perspectives regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on surgical training, education, and general coping during the pandemic.Of 256 eligible participants across surgical specialties, 146 completed the survey (57.0%). Junior residents comprised 43.6% (n = 61), compared to seniors 37.1% (n = 52) and fellows 19.3% (n = 27). Most participants, 97.9% (n = 138), anticipated being able to complete their academic year on time, and 75.2% (n = 100) perceived virtual learning to be the same as or better than in-person didactic sessions. Participants were most concerned about their ability to have sufficient knowledge and skills to care for patients with COVID-19, and the possibility of exposure to COVID-19.Although COVID-19 impacted residents' overall teaching and clinical volume, residency programs may identify novel virtual opportunities to meet their educational and research milestones during these challenging times.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jss.2021.01.017

    View details for PubMedID 33862581

  • Transnarodowość współczesnych migrantów na przykładzie polskich specjalistów wysokich technologii w Dolinie Krzemowej Granice, pogranicza i dalej – niekończąca się przygoda. Księga Jubileuszowa dedykowana Profesorowi Zbigniewowi Kurczowi Sasnal, M., et al edited by Dębicki, M., Dolińska, K., Kajta, J., et al Wydawnictwo Naukowe Scholar. 2021; 1: 329-339
  • Feasibility and acceptability of virtually coaching residents on communication skills: a pilot study. BMC medical education Sasnal, M., Miller-Kuhlmann, R., Merrell, S. B., Beres, S., Kipp, L., Lee, S., Threlkeld, Z., Nassar, A. K., Gold, C. A. 2021; 21 (1): 513


    Developing communication skills is a key competency for residents. Coaching, broadly accepted as a training modality in medical education, has been proven a successful tool for teaching communication skills. Little research is available thus far to investigate virtual coaching on communication skills for telemedicine encounters. The purpose of the study was to test the hypothesis that virtually coaching residents on communication skills is feasible and acceptable. We surveyed 21 resident-faculty pairs participating in a "fully virtual" coaching session (patient, coach, and resident were virtual).We asked 50 neurology resident-faculty coach pairs to complete one "fully virtual" coaching session between May 20 and August 31, 2020. After each session, the resident and coach completed a 15-item survey, including Likert-style scale and open-ended questions, assessing feasibility and acceptability. Descriptive statistics and qualitative content and thematic analyses were performed.Forty-two percent (21/50) of all eligible residents completed "fully virtual" coaching sessions. The overall survey response rate was 91 % (38/42). The majority of respondents agreed that the direct observation and debriefing conversation were easy to schedule and occurred without technical difficulties and that debriefing elements (self-reflection, feedback, takeaways) were useful for residents. Ninety-five percent of respondents rated the coach's virtual presence to be not at all disruptive to the resident-patient interaction. Virtual coaching alleviated resident stress associated with observation and was perceived as an opportunity for immediate feedback and a unique approach for resident education that will persist into the future.In this pilot study, residents and faculty coaches found virtual coaching on communication skills feasible and acceptable for telemedicine encounters. Many elements of our intervention may be adoptable by other residency programs. For example, residents may share their communication goals with clinic faculty supervisors and then invite them to directly observe virtual encounters what could facilitate targeted feedback related to the resident's goals. Moreover, virtual coaching on communication skills in both the in-person and telemedicine settings may particularly benefit residents in challenging encounters such as those with cognitively impaired patients or with surrogate decision-makers.

    View details for DOI 10.1186/s12909-021-02936-w

    View details for PubMedID 34583691

  • Polsko-niemieckie sąsiedztwo. Opinie mieszkańców Zgorzelca Polsko-niemieckie transgranicza – rozmyte konfiguracje tożsamości Sasnal, M. edited by Kurcz, Z., Opiłowska, E. GAJT, Wroclaw. 2011: 55-72
  • Ein uneinheitliches Bild deutsch-polnischer Nachbarschaft. Forschungen zu den Ansichten von Einwohnern der Grenzstadt Zgorzelec Inter Finitimos: Jahrbuch zur Deutsch-Polnischen Beziehungsgeschichte Sasnal, M. 2011: 148-167
  • Bezpieczeństwo w Görlitz i Zgorzelcu w opiniach mieszkańców Zgorzelec jako miasto pograniczne w opiniach jego mieszkańców Sasnal, M. edited by Dolińska, K., Niedźwiecka-Iwańczak, N. GAJT, Wroclaw. 2011: 147-165
  • Tożsamość narodowa czy tożsamość europejska? Polska emigracja w Wielkiej Brytanii Kwestie narodowościowe w świetle procesów integracyjnych w Europie Zając, M. edited by Mikucka-Wójtowicz, D., Kopeć, R. Wydawnictwo Naukowe Akademii Pedagogicznej im. Komisji Edukacji Narodowej, Kraków. 2009: 147-154
  • Bezpieczeństwo danych. Czynnik ludzki najsłabszym ogniwem zabezpieczeń Rola informatyki w naukach ekonomicznych i społecznych: zeszyty naukowe Zając, M., Sasnal, P. M. 2008; 1: 227-236