Back to Results

Debra Lerner, MS, PhD


Training + Education Boston University; University of Cincinnati; State University of New York - Buffalo
Gender Female
Language(s) English, Spanish

Honors + Awards

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

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

Publications + National Presentations

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


Dr. Lerner is a Senior Scientist within the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies (ICRHPS) and founder and Director of the Program on Health, Work and Productivity. She is a Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine and the Sackler Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. Dr. Lerner serves as the Director of Evaluation and Tracking for Tufts CTSI.

Dr. Lerner has dedicated her career to improving the health and well-being of working people and enabling them to participate fully and productively in the workplace. Dr. Lerner and her colleagues have extensive expertise in survey research and developed the Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ), which is used throughout the world and has become a standard of measurement. In addition, Dr. Lerner’s team has developed innovative intervention programs aimed at improving employee functional performance and work productivity. Sponsorship for this research has been provided by the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Lerner has published numerous articles on health and productivity improvement. She has served on many scientific panels and advisory boards including the Health Project, which administers the C. Everett Koop Award to for employer excellence in workplace health promotion.

News, Media + Videos

Administrator at Tufts Medical Center.

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

Read More
Al Charest, MSc, PhD, a researcher at Tufts Medical Center.

Tufts MC announces inaugural INNOVATION Day: Innovating a path to market.

Read More

Research Support

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

Contact Information

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