Sarah B. Hunter

Photo of Sarah Hunter
Senior Behavioral and Social Scientist; Director, RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles; 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

Media Resources

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Sarah Hunter is a senior behavioral scientist at the RAND Corporation, director of RAND Center on Housing and Homelessness in Los Angeles, and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Hunter's primary areas of interest are improving services for vulnerable populations; building community capacity for evidence-based program delivery; continuous quality improvement; health care integration; implementation science; and program evaluation. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and RAND publications in a wide range of fields. Hunter currently serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. She has served as core faculty at the Implementation Research Institute at Washington University and on several grant review panels for the National Institutes of Health, most recently as a standing study section member for the Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health committee. Prior to joining RAND as a full-time researcher, Hunter was a Project Air Force summer associate for two years. She received her Ph.D. and M.A. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her B.A. from New York University. 

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

Sarah B. Hunter, Melody Harvey, Brian Briscombe, Matt Cefalu, Evaluation of Housing for Health Permanent Supportive Housing Program, RAND (RR-1694-BRC), 2017

Hunter, S.B., Han, B., Slaughter, M.E., Godley, S.H., & Garner, B.R., "Predicting evidence based treatment sustainment: Results from a longitudinal study of the Adolescent Community Reinforcement Approach," . Implementation Science, 12, 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., Rutter, C., Ober, A.J., & Booth, M., "Building capacity for continuous quality improvement (CQI): A pilot study," Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 81, 2017

Watkins, K.E., Ober, A.J., Lamp, K., Lind, M., Setodji, C.M., Osilla, K.C., Hunter, S.B., McCullough, C.M., Becker, K., Iyiewuare, P.O., Diamant, A., Heinzerling, K., & Pincus, H.A, "Collaborative care for opioid and alcohol use disorders in primary care: The SUMMIT randomized clinical trial," JAMA Internal Medicine, 8, 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, 2016

Blanchard, J., Hunter, S.B., Osilla, K.C., Stewart, W., Walters, J., & Pacula, R.L. , "Systematic review of the prevention and treatment of prescription drug misuse," Military Medicine, 181(5), 2016

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

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

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews:; Newsy


  • A woman uses a cell phone on downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row, March 6, 2013, photo  by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Access to Mobile Technology Could Help to Alleviate LA's Homelessness Crisis

    The vast majority of people experiencing homelessness have cell phones, which often serve as their lifelines. Providing technological supports, such as Wi-Fi access and opportunities to charge devices, could result in better access to social services and, ultimately, better quality of life and outcomes.

    Sep 16, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • A Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy stands watch at Men's Central Jail in Los Angeles, California, October 3, 2012, photo by Jason Redmond/Reuters

    An Uncertain Future for Jail Reform in Los Angeles

    There is momentum in Los Angeles County to do the difficult work of criminal justice reform. This will take considerable investments of time and resources, as well as a commitment to implementing new strategies and evaluating their effectiveness along the way.

    Jul 21, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • A woman holds a placard as people protest outside Los Angeles Unified School District headquarters to demand that the Board of Education defunds school police in Los Angeles, California, June 23, 2020, photo  by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

    Defund the LAPD? Garcetti Budget Proposal Takes a Step in That Direction

    Calls to “defund the police” have grown common and urgent in the wake of police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and numerous other Black Americans. Research and community activists agree: Public safety can be improved by investing more public dollars in a social safety net, and less in policing and incarceration, in Los Angeles.

    Jun 30, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Kevin Keeley, who has been experiencing homelessness for eight months and may have come into contact with someone with COVID-19, stands outside a quarantine tent in Boston, Massachusetts, April 2, 2020, photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters

    Emergency Homeless Services During the COVID-19 Crisis

    The recently passed $2 trillion stimulus package includes a suite of measures designed to support households that are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. But policymakers may want to consider what protections the package offers to a particularly high-risk group: people experiencing homelessness.

    Apr 7, 2020 The RAND Blog

  • Tents line the sidewalk on downtown Los Angeles' Skid Row, March 7, 2013

    Housing for Health: Los Angeles County's Department of Health Tackles Homelessness with an Innovative Housing Program That Saves Money

    Los Angeles County's Housing for Health program addresses an important public health issue by providing housing and supportive services to some of the most vulnerable people in our community. The program also saves taxpayers money.

    Jan 18, 2018 USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism

  • two women with smiling baby girl, adorable, adult, baby, beautiful, caucasian, cheerful, child, cute, daughter, embracing, enjoyment, expression, face, family, fun, funny, generations, girl, granddaughter, grandma, grandmother, happiness, happy, home, infant, lady, laughing, little, love, mature, mother, mum, nanny, offspring, people, playful, senior, smiling, three, three-generation, toddler, together, togetherness, woman, women

    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

  • A woman giving a business presentation

    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