Karen Donelan, ScD

Senior Scientist, Mongan Institute for Health Policy at MGH Karen Donelan
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Karen is affiliated with the ITA as well as the MGH Cancer Center and the Mongan Institute of Health Policy.  Dr. Donelan is a survey researcher whose focus has been on assessments of health systems and services by consumers, patients, health professionals, employers, payers and other health stakeholders. She has led research efforts in more than 20 nations and health systems and has published extensively in major medical and health policy journals.

Dr. Donelan's primary interest is in how patients access and navigate health systems and services. Her current research projects cover three areas:  Health Disparities, Health Information Technology, and Health Workforce.  Her Health Disparites work is funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Avon Foundation and the Gillette Foundation and focuses on the evaluation of patient navigation programs and services to overcome language barriers. Her HIT research includes a federal contract with the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT to measure the adoption of electronic health records and a new project funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to assess how consumers use and respond to physician quality information.  Her Health Workforce projects assess efforts to recruit and retain nurses (with Vanderbilt University and Johnson & Johnson) and to understand physician referral decisions.

Dr. Donelan earned a bachelors degree from Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges, a master's degree in education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a Doctor of Science Degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.  She was previously the founding Managing Director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program and Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health. From 1999-2002, Dr. Donelan took a hiatus from academia to be Co-Founder and Senior Vice-President of Medrock, Inc., a health care company that used physician quality assessments and navigation tools to help people find medical expertise in critical and complex illness.


  • Lubitz, C. C., Gregorio, L. D., Fingeret, A. L., Economopoulos, K., Teremzawi, D., Hassan, M., Parangi, S., Stephen, A., Halpern, E. F., Donelan, K. & Swan, J. S. (2017). Measurement and Variation in Estimation of Quality of Life Effects of Patients Undergoing Treatment for Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma.. Thyroid : official journal of the American Thyroid Association, 27(2), 197-206. [Online version]
  • Wakeman, S. E., Kanter, G. P. & Donelan, K. (2017). Institutional Substance Use Disorder Intervention Improves General Internist Preparedness, Attitudes, and Clinical Practice.. Journal of addiction medicine, . [Online version]
  • Eisenberg, J., Reisner, A. T., Binder, W. D., Zaheer, A., Gunn, M. L., Linnau, K. F., Miller, C. M., Tramontano, A., Herring, M., Dowling, E., Halpern, E. F., Donelan, K., Gazelle, G. S. & Pandharipande, P. (2017). Role of CT in the Diagnosis of Nonspecific Abdominal Pain: A Multicenter Analysis.. AJR. American journal of roentgenology, 208(3), 570-576. [Online version]
  • Iezzoni, L. I., Matulewicz, H., Marsella, S. A., Warsett, K. S., Heaphy, D. & Donelan, K. (2017). Collaborative design of a health care experience survey for persons with disability.. Disability and health journal, . [Online version]
  • Fung, V., Liang, C., Donelan, K., Peitzman, C. G., Dow, W. H., Zaslavsky, A. M., Fireman, B., Derose, S. F., Chernew, M. E., Newhouse, J. P. & Hsu, J. (2017). Nearly One-Third Of Enrollees In California's Individual Market Missed Opportunities To Receive Financial Assistance.. Health affairs (Project Hope), 36, 21-31. [Online version]