Dr. Maria Alva

Dr. Maria L. Alva is a Senior Research Associate within IMPAQ's Health Division. Her work often involves the development of disease models, based on individual patient data, to predict lifetime costs and outcomes. She is experienced in synthesizing information from multiple sources on costs, outcomes, and effectiveness for decision-analytic models. Dr. Alva has a long-standing interest in non-communicable disease, obesity, and behavioral health.


Dr. Alva’s technical expertise includes econometric and statistical methods, linear and nonlinear panel data modeling, survival analysis, missing data and imputation, program evaluation (difference-in- differences, matching, and propensity score estimators), cost-effectiveness analyses, contingent valuation, and meta-analysis. Dr. Alva is published in several peer-reviewed journals, including Health Affairs, Health Economics, and Diabetic Medicine.


Dr. Alva has more than a decade of research experience. She has worked on impact evaluations addressing aspects of chronic disease prevention such as the Medicaid Incentives for Prevention of Chronic Diseases (MIPCD) Evaluation; the Health Care Innovation Awards Evaluation in Community Resource Planning Prevention and Monitoring (HCIA- CRPPM); and the CDC-RTI simulation model to assess the long-term health and economic outcomes of public health interventions to prevent diabetes and its complications. She has also estimated the direct and indirect cost of tobacco use and the ROI of tobacco cessation investment policies. Her international expertise includes Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, Sri Lanka, Italy, Switzerland, and the UK.

Prior Experience

Prior to joining IMPAQ, Dr. Alva was a health economist at RTI International and a research associate at the Health Economics Research Center at the University of Oxford (U.K.), where she focused on economic analyses of the United Kingdom Prospective Diabetes Study—a landmark trial of policies to improve the management of people with type 2 diabetes.


Dr. Alva holds a DPhil. from the University of Oxford (U.K.) in Public Health in 2013 and an MPhil in Economics from the same institution in 2008. She has been an ad hoc referee for Diabetic Medicine Cerebrovascular Diseases, Medical Decision Making, Medicare & Medicaid Research Review, Value in Health, PLOS ONE, and Health Affairs. She is a member of the American Economic Association, AcademyHealth, International Health Economics Association, and American Public Health Association.

IMPAQ Papers and Presentations

Wang, G., Daniels, T., Alva, M. L., and Liu, S. (2019, June). Feasibility of Tweets and Social Network Analysis to Study Stakeholders' Interests. Oral presentation at the AcademyHealth Annual Research Meeting, Washington, DC.

Alva, M. L. (2018, June). A Community Based Approach to Increase Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables and Promote Weight Loss among Low Income Children and Individuals with Pre-diabetes in the District of Columbia. Poster presentation at the 7th Conference of the American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon), Atlanta, GA.

Alva, M. L. (2018, June). Self-reported Health Related Quality of Life as a Predictor of Mortality in Diabetes: The Importance of Heterogeneity. Poster presentation at the 7th Conference of the American Society of Health Economists, Atlanta, GA.

Hoerger, T. J., Romaire, M., Alva, M. L., & Perry, R. (2018, June). Do Financial Incentives for Medicaid Beneficiaries Increase Use of Preventive Services and Lower Expenditures? Evidence from Ten States. Poster presentation at the 7th Conference of the American Society of Health Economists (ASHEcon), Atlanta, GA.

Alva, M. L. (2019). How Much Does Attendance Impact Weight Loss and Health Care Spending in a Diabetes Prevention Program Serving Older Adults? American Journal of Health Promotion, DOI:10.1177/089011711984898.

Liu, S., Laux, M. & Alva, M. (2019, February). Alternatives to Opioids Prescribing Rates Across States: Provider and Beneficiary Characteristics. Poster presentation at the AcademyHealth National Health Policy Conference (NHPC), Washington, DC.

Romaire, M. A., Alva, M. L., Whitman, A. E., Acquah, J. K. & Hoerger, T. J. (2018). Impact of Financial Incentives on Service Use, Spending, and Health in MedicaidAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, 55(6), 875-886.

Thomas, T., Samuel-Hodge, C. D., Porterfield, D. S., Alva, M. L. & Leeman, J. (2018). Scaling Up Diabetes Prevention Programs in North Carolina: Perceptions of Demand From Potential Program Recipients and Providers. The Diabetes Educator, DOI: 10.1177/0145721718811564.

Alva, M., Hoerger, T. J., Zhang, P., & Cheng, Y. J. (2018). State-Level Diabetes-Attributable Mortality and Years of Life Lost in the United StatesAnnals of Epidemiology, DOI: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2018.08.015.

Alva, M. L., Acquah, J., & Romaire, M. (2018). Impact of financial incentives on diabetes prevention class attendance and program completion: Evidence from Minnesota, Montana, and New YorkAmerican Journal of Health Promotion, DOI: 10.1177/0890117118794087.

Whitman, A., Acquah, J., Alva, M., Hoerger, T., & Romaire, M. (2018). Medicaid Incentives for Preventing Chronic Disease: Effects of Financial Incentives for Smoking CessationHealth Services Research, DOI: 10.1111/1475-6773.12994.

Previous Publications

Journal Articles

Alva, M., A Review of the Impacts of Different Approaches for Diabetes Prevention and a Framework for Making Investment Decisions. (2018). Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health.

Alva, M., Hoerger, T., Zhang P., & Gregg, E., (2017, October). Identifying Risk for Type 2 Diabetes in Different Age Cohorts: Does One Size Fit All? BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.

Arcaya, M., Coleman, R., Razak, F., Alva, M., & Holman. R. R., (2017, July). Health selection into neighborhoods among patients enrolled in a clinical trialPreventive Medicine Reports.

Alva, M., Samuel-Hodge, C., Jeyaraman, R., Porterfield, D., Thomas T., & Leeman J., (2017, June) A Feasibility Study of Supply and Demand for Diabetes Prevention Programs in North Carolina. Preventing Chronic Disease.

Alva, M., Hoerger, T., Jeyaraman, R., Amico, P., & Rojas-Smith L., (2017, March). Impact of The YMCA of The USA Diabetes Prevention Program on Medicare Spending and Utilization. Health Affairs 36:3417-424; doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2016.1307.

Alva, M., Gray, A., Mihaylova, B., Leal, J., & Holman, R. R. (2015). The impact of diabetes-related complications on healthcare costs: New results from the UKPDS (UKPDS 84). Diabetic Medicine. doi:10.1111/dme.12647.

Alva, M., Gray, A., Mihaylova, B., & Clarke, P. (2014, April). The effect of diabetes complications on health-related quality of life: The importance of longitudinal data to address patient heterogeneity. Health Economics, 23(4), 487–500.