Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

Dr. Atlas is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Practice-Based Research and Quality Improvement in the Division of General Internal Medicine Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he is also a practicing primary care physician. His research interests include spine disorders, cancer prevention, and population health as well as engaging patients in their health care. Dr. Atlas serves as a medical editor for low back and neck pain for UpToDate, an electronic knowledge resource for clinicians, and for the Informed Medical Decisions Foundation, part of Healthwise, where he has developed shared decision making programs to better inform patients about their treatment options.


Posts by Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

Time to rethink the debate on PSA testing

Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

The debate about PSA screening for prostate cancer has been going on for decades, and research has been similarly divided. For most men, the best advice is to talk with your doctor so the benefits and risks of the test are clear.

Taming the pain of sciatica: For most people, time heals and less is more

Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

While not as common as other types of back pain, sciatica can cause intense discomfort, but often the best course of treatment involves controlling the pain and keeping active while the condition subsides.

To PSA test or not to PSA test: That is the discussion

Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

The recommended guidelines for whether men should have the prostate cancer screening test have changed in recent years. A man considering the test should talk with his doctor and understand all the pros and cons involved.

Perspective on alcohol use and cancer risk

Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

There seems to be general agreement that, for most people, moderate alcohol use isn’t particularly harmful to health. At the same time, some people have seen the negative effects of alcohol up close and personal. A new study makes alcohol seem even more controversial, suggesting that there is sufficient evidence to say that alcohol causes several types of cancer. However, this startling news it is based on reinterpretation of existing data and may further muddy the waters on the benefits and risks of alcohol use.

Opiates no solution to back pain

Steven J. Atlas, MD, MPH

As the treatment for chronic pain morphs into more opiate prescriptions, the rate of addiction and its consequences continues to climb. This doesn’t mean we should stop treating pain or that everyone prescribed opiates will become addicted. But it should give us pause and make us realize that just taking a pill doesn’t fix chronic pain – and doing so cause harm us in the long run.