About Dr. Donelan

Karen Donelan, ScD, EdM
Senior Scientist, Health Policy Research Center
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Dr. Donelan is a prominent survey and team scientist who has conducted numerous national and international surveys of the experiences of patients and health professionals in health care systems, nationally and locally.  At Mass General, she is the convener of MGH Health Policy Rounds, she leads the Survey Research and Implementation Unit for the Division of Clinical Research and is a member of the MGH/MGPO Diversity Committee.

Recognized for her skill in designing surveys to measure the experiences of diverse professional and patient/consumer populations, Dr. Donelan’s current and recent national projects include the health workforce changes needed to improve care for frail older adults, assessments of care management programs, evaluation of innovations in payment for dually eligible Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, understanding insurance coverage for cancer survivors, and a test of  a virtual clinic to improve evidence-based care for people with Down Syndrome.  She is interested in evaluating new forms of  human and technology support for diverse populations trying to access and navigate health systems.

Dr. Donelan has led primary research efforts at Mass. General Hospital to measure diversity culture from patient and workforce perspectives, assuring more robust inclusion of patients with disability, limited English proficiency and racial, ethnic and gender minorities. She has been a mentor to several clinician researchers on early stage career projects.  She was a member of a National Academy of Medicine Committee to evaluate progress on the 2010 Future of Nursing report.

Dr. Donelan joined the MIHPC faculty in 2003, following more than a decade at the Harvard School of Public Health as founding Managing Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program, and 3 years as Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of a venture-financed company providing assistance to patients and families confronting complex and critical illnesses. She has received considerable external support for her survey research, including the Patient Centered Outcome Research Institute, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the American Cancer Society, the Commonwealth Fund, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation and others. She has published extensively in major medical, nursing, and health policy journals, and is a peer reviewer for multiple journals. She is a member of Academy Health and the American Association of Public Opinion Research.

Research Interests

Current Projects
The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Aging Patients and Health Professionals: New Roles in a Changing Health System
Goal: To develop a measurement framework  to compare professional roles and competencies of doctors, nurses and social workers in health care teams, and apply that framework to create optimal teams for the assessment and care of frail elders living in community settings
Role: Principal Investigator

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)
Virtual Evidence-Based Health Care for Underserved Patients with Down Syndrome
Goal: To test the effectiveness of a virtual clinic in improving adherence to primary care standards of practice for patients with Down Syndrome to improve quality of care from the perspective of patients, caregivers and primary care professionals
Role: Co-Investigator

Dr. Donelan on PubMed

AB, Harvard College
EdM, Harvard Graduate School of Education
ScD, Harvard School of Public Health

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