Sarah B. Hunter

Sarah Hunter
Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D in social psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara; M.A. in social psychology, University of California, Santa Barbara; B.A. in psychology, New York University


Sarah Hunter is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. She also co-manages quality assurance for RAND's Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment Division. Her primary areas of interest are in improving services for vulnerable populations; building community capacity for program delivery; implementation science; and program evaluation. She has published more than 85 peer-reviewed journal articles, books chapters, and RAND publications in a wide range of fields. Hunter is on the editorial board for the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment and has served as a National Institute on Drug Abuse core faculty mentor for the Implementation Research Institute at Washington University. She has participated in several grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health and currently serves on the Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health committee. Hunter received her B.A. from New York University and her M.A and Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California at Santa Barbara.

Pardee RAND Graduate School Courses

Recent Projects

  • Building System Capacity Through Continuous Quality Improvement
  • Effectiveness of Technology-Assisted Diffusion for Evidence Based Treatment
  • Enhancing Housing First Programs with a Social Network Substance Use Intervention
  • Housing for Health Program Evaluation
  • Welcome Baby Implementation and Outcomes Evaluation

Selected Publications

Hunt, P., Hunter, S.B., & Levan, D., "Continuous quality improvement in substance abuse treatment facilities: How much does it cost?" Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 77:133-140, 2017

Sarah B. Hunter, Lois M. Davis, Rosanna Smart & Susan Turner, Impact of Proposition 47 on Los Angeles County Operations and Budget., RAND (RR-1754-LAC), 2017

Hunter, S.B., Schwartz, R.P., & Friedmann, P.D., "Introduction to the special issue on the studies on the implementation of integrated models of alcohol, tobacco, and/or drug use interventions and medical care.," Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 60:1-5, 2016

Rosalie Liccardo Pacula, Sarah B. Hunter, Allison J. Ober, Karen Chan Osilla, Raffaele Vardavas, Janice C. Blanchard, David DeVries, Emmanuel F. Drabo, Kristin J. Leuschner, Warren Stewart, Jennifer Walters, Preventing, identifying, and treating prescription drug misuse among active-duty service members., RAND (RR-1345-OSD), 2016

Ober, A.J., Watkins, K.E., Hunter, S.B., Lamp, K., Lind, M. & Setodji, C.M., "An organizational readiness intervention and randomized controlled trial to test strategies for implementing substance use disorder treatment into primary care: SUMMIT study protocol.," Implementation Science, 10(1):66, 2015

Hunter, S.B., Han, B., Slaughter, M.E., Godley, S.H., & Garner, B.R., "Associations between implementation characteristics and evidence-based practice sustainment: A study of the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach," Implementation Science, 10(1):173, 2015

Sarah B. Hunter, Patricia Ebener, Matthew Chinman, Allison Ober & Christina Y. Huang, Promoting Success: A Getting to Outcomes guide to implementing continuous quality improvement for community service organizations, RAND (TL-179-NIDA), 2015

Houck, J.M., Hunter, S.B., Benson, J.G., Cochrum, L.L., Rowell, L.N., & D'Amico, E.J, "Temporal variation in facilitator and client behavior during group motivational interviewing sessions," Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 29(4):941-9, 2015

Honors & Awards

  • Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, Best Paper 2007, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues
  • Outstanding Publication Award, American Evaluation Association
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science


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    Support for Implementing Home Visiting Under the Affordable Care Act

    One groundbreaking provision of the Affordable Care Act is its funding for home visiting programs that match the parents of young children with trained specialists who provide information, social support, parental skill instruction, and more.

    Jan 8, 2014 The RAND Blog

  • young woman smoking and drinking coffee

    Teen Employment May Not Always Be a Boon for At-Risk Youth

    For all teens, and especially those who have already experienced problems related to alcohol and drug use, it is essential to monitor the quality of work experiences and keep in mind that some work environments might increase risk for substance use.

    Dec 18, 2012

  • Promoting Success: Using Data to Inform Decision Making

    Many organizations that we have worked with indicate that this approach has helped improve reporting and communication both within and external to their organization, writes Sarah Hunter.

    Mar 21, 2012 Independent Sector