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Debra Lerner, MS, PhD

Training + Education Boston University; University of Cincinnati; State University of New York - Buffalo
Gender Female
Language(s) English, Spanish
Accepted Insurances View Accepted Insurances at Tufts MC + Tufts Children's Hospital

1985 National Dissertation Grant Award, National Center for Health Services Research

2008 President's Award, Institute for Health and Productivity Management

1. Lerner D, Rodday AM, Cohen JT and Rogers WH. A Systematic Review of the Evidence Concerning the Economic Impact of Employee-Focused Health Promotion and Wellness Programs. J Occup Environ Med 2013 Feb; 55 (2): 209-222. PMID:23287723.

2. Lerner D, Adler D, Hermann RC, Chang H, Ludman EJ, Greenhill A, Perch K, McPeck WC, Rogers WH. Impact of a work-focused intervention on the productivity and symptoms of employees with depression. J Occup Environ Med 2012; 54(2): 128-35. PMID: 22252528.

3. Lerner DJ, Henke RM. What does research tell us about depression, job performance and work productivity? J Occup Environ Med 2008; 50(4): 401-10. PMID: 18404013

4. Adler DA, McLaughlin TJ, Rogers WH, Chang H, Lapitsky L, Lerner D. Job performance deficits due to depression. Am J Psych 2006; 163(9): 1569-1576. PMID: 16946182.

5. Lerner D, Allaire SH, Reisine ST. Work disability due to chronic health conditions. J Occup Environ Med 2005; 47(3): 253-264. PMID: 15761321.

6. Lerner D, Rogers WH, Adler DA, Chang H, Lapitsky L, Hood MY, Perissinotto C, Reed J, McLaughlin TJ, Berndt ER. Unemployment, Job Retention and Productivity Loss Among Employees with Depression. Psychiatric Services 2004; 55(12): 1371-1378. PMID: 15572564.

7. Lerner D, Adler, DA, Chang H, Berndt ER, Irish JT, Lapitsky L, Hood MY, Reed J, Rogers WH. The Clinical and Occupational Correlates of Work Productivity Loss Among Employed Patients With Depression. J Occup Environ Med June 2004; 46(6) Supplement: S46-S55. PMID: 15194895.

8. Lerner D, Amick III BC, Lee J, Rooney T, Rogers WH, Chang H, Berndt E. Relationship of Employee-Reported Work Limitations to Work Productivity. Med Care 2003; 41(5):649-659. PMID: 12719689.

9. Lerner D, Reed J, Massarotti E, Wester LM, Burke TA. The Work Limitation Questionnaire's Validity and Reliability Among Patients with Osteoarthritis (OA) J Clin Epidemiol. 2002; 55(2): 197-208. PMID: 11809359.

10. Lerner DJ, Amick III BC, Rogers WH, Malspeis S, Bungay K. The Work Limitations Questionnaire: A Self-Administered Instrument for Assessing On-The-Job Work Disability. Med Care 2001; 39(1): 72-85. PMID: 11176545

Debra Lerner, MS, PhD is the Director and founder of the Program on Health, Work and Productivity, which is located in Tufts Medical Center. She is a senior scientist and Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry of Tufts School of Medicine, and Director of Evaluation for the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute, one of 60 federally-designated centers. She has dedicated her professional career to advancing the science and practice of functional health improvement for working adults especially those with chronic, disabling health problems. Her goal is to enable all adults to remain productive throughout the life course.

Under her leadership, she and her team developed the first questionnaire to measure the impact of physical and mental health problems on work performance and productivity. The Work Limitations Questionnaire, WLQ, has been extensively validated and is a gold standard of measurement. The WLQ is used within clinical trials of major pharmaceutical firms, the worker health promotion and wellness industry (which embeds the WLQ in many of its health assessment tools), academic research and employer health and productivity improvement initiatives. The recently developed Caregiver WLQ addresses the increasing prevalence of informal caregivers in the workplace.

Dr. Lerner has specialized in mental health issues, and has been a principal in multiple projects related to employee mental health improvement. She is considered a national thought leader on workplace interventions for stress and depression. In addition to producing a white paper for business leaders on the costs of depression (for the One Mind Institute), she is working with Westat, Inc. under a federal contract to evaluate the dissemination of workplace interventions for depression. Dr. Lerner has been Principal Investigator on four federally funded trials, which have resulted in a best-in-class evidence-based screening and intervention program to improve the work performance and productivity of employees with depression. This novel on-line and telephonic work-focused program addresses a large gap in care-the absence of programs to address the widespread and costly functional limitations associated with this common mental disorder.

Dr. Lerner has consulted on employee health and productivity improvement to many organizations including the US Veterans Administration, the Social Security Administration Disability Programs, the Assistant Secretary’s Office for Planning and Evaluation in the Department of Health and Human Services, private-sector health insurers and employers. Dr. Lerner currently is on the Board of Directors of the Health Project, which awards the prestigious C. Everett Koop award to an employer that has demonstrated excellence in employee health promotion and disease prevention. She was recently appointed to the board of directors of the IBI Center for Workforce Health and Performance (CWHP).

Administrator at Tufts Medical Center in Boston.

A new Tufts Medical Center study shows that a phone intervention helps workers with depression.

Intervention Helps Workers with Depression

R01 AG 033125-01A1 (Lerner) 9/15/09-8/31/13
Preventing Mid- and Later-Life Work Limitations: Community-Based Depression Care
The aim of this study is to address the burden of depression on middle-aged and older workers by providing mental health and vocational services to improve functioning and reduce productivity loss. The long-range goal is to disseminate an innovative program to help such workers remain engaged and productive in their work.

U54 RR 023562 (Selker) 5/19/08-4/30/13;
UL1 TR001064 10/1/13-
Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute
The aim of this Clinical and Translational Science Award is to support and instill the culture of cooperative interdisciplinary research by creating a new home for clinical translation research across Tufts University and clinical affiliates.
Role: Director of Evaluation and Tracking

R34 MH072735 (Lerner) 7/1/05-3/31/08
Reducing Depression’s Impact on Work Performance
This project will further develop and test a new multi-modal, work-focused intervention. This project’s long-term goal is to provide effective and efficient work-focused care that will help employees with depression function more effectively and productively.

R01 DP000101 (Lerner) 9/30/04-12/31/07
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Promoting Mental Health in the Workplace
Reduce depression’s adverse impact on the employee's ability to function at work. This project's main innovation will be a multi-modal, work-focused intervention program.

R01 MH58243 (Lerner) 9/8/00-8/31/04
Depression and Productive Work Activity
The major goals of this project are to assess the impact of depression on working individuals and to identify work characteristics that influence work outcomes.

No Number (Lerner) 2002-2004
Aetna Academic Medicine and Managed Care Institute
Improving Work Productivity Data Quality

R01-OH03399-02 (Amick) 1996-1999
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Measurement of Burden in Occupational Illness and Injury (R01)
Role: Co-PI

1R01 AG12806 (Colditz) 1995-1998
The Impact of Work on Women's Health and Quality of Life (The Nurses Health Study) (R01)
National Institute on Aging
Role: Site PI

No Number (Lerner) 1994-1995
Functional Outcomes Program of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
Disability in the Workplace

No Number (Lerner) 1994
Functional Outcomes Program of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
NORC National Follow-up Survey of Functional Health Status

Program on Health, Work and Productivity
800 Washington Street, Box 345
Boston, MA 02111

Phone: 617-636-8640

Fax: 617-636-8351

Email: Debra Lerner