Center for Health Solutions

The Center for Health Solutions (CHS), founded in 1988 and formerly known as the Health Institute, was home to the Medical Outcomes Study, a landmark study designed to measure the relationship between an organization and its delivery of medical care and the functional health outcomes of patients. The CHS’s mission is to improve health by advancing the measurement of, and knowledge about, the social, behavioral, medical, and biological factors that influence individual and population health and ability to participate fully in society. Toward this goal, CHS develops self-report measurement tools for use in population health monitoring, outcomes assessment and program evaluation. It also develops novel health improvement interventions for use in a variety of settings. In addition, it conducts multidisciplinary research into the complex pathways linking health and its social, behavioral, medical, and biological determinants. CHS is also committed to working with clinicians and health systems, government, community and advocacy organizations, and industry to translate its research findings into practice and policy.

The research program of the Center’s director, Susan Parsons, MD, MRP, combines her training in health economics with clinical expertise in hematology/oncology. For more than 25 years, her research has focused on the functional and financial consequences of serious illness, principally cancer, on patients and their families. In addition to descriptive research on trajectories of health-related quality of life across the illness continuum, the team of multidisciplinary researchers is committed to the design and testing of interventions to support caregivers in their pivotal role. One of the recent examples of this includes the integrated eHealth program, HSCT-CHESSTM, yielding salutary effects on parental emotional functioning for sustained users. Separately, researchers address the fiscal impact of critical and chronic illness in studies of total cost of care and cost effectiveness, leveraging administrative databases, including SEER-Medicare, Medicare, and the Massachusetts All- Payer Claims Database. In an ongoing study, Parsons and her team are exploring the impact of a financial navigation intervention on financial distress and health insurance literacy among young adult survivors of blood cancer.

Program on Health, Work and Productivity

The Program on Health, Work and Productivity (PHWP) was founded by Debra Lerner, MS, PhD, to address the burgeoning need to improve the health of working people and reduce the human and economic burden of health problems on them and their families, their employers and the nation. The two main areas of focus have been developing measurement tools for measuring the burden of health problems in this domain, novel intervention programs to help workers with health problems improve their ability to work, and reducing productivity loss. The program’s Work Limitations Questionnaire (WLQ) is used worldwide by employers, pharmaceutical firms, researchers and insurers to assess the impact of health and treatment on ability to perform work and work productivity. It is embedded in most of the major health assessment tools in the United States, which employers and/or insurers administer each year. In addition to its use for monitoring the health of the working population, the WLQ provides an accurate, practical tool for evaluating the impact of employee health improvement programs and policies. The PHWP’s multidisciplinary team is also committed to developing and disseminating novel interventions to improve employee health and work functioning. Its studies have advanced the science and practice of worker health promotion and functional health improvement. Its Be Well at Work Program, which has been tested in three successive workplace clinical trials, is a groundbreaking approach to reducing the burden of depression in the workplace. PHWP team members frequently collaborate with individual employers and employer coalitions on a wide range of projects.
The Center faculty are committed to the training and career development of junior faculty in health outcomes research. Dr. Susan Parsons co-leads, with Dr. Karen Freund, a Komen Foundation-funded training grant in health disparities related to breast cancer care. She is also an active mentor and course director within the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Graduate Program. Each year the Center hosts summer scholars in patient-centered cancer research in addition to ongoing supervision of hematology/oncology fellows in their research training.

Local and National Collaborators

The Center for Health Solutions’ mission is to improve health by advancing measurement of and knowledge about the social, behavioral, medical and biological factors that influence individual and population health. Since its founding in 1988, the Center has worked with other researchers, governmental agencies and foundations to further examine the links between structure, process and outcomes of healthcare.


Susan K. Parsons, MD, MRP
Director, Center for Health Solutions
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics

David A. Adler, MD
Professor of Psychiatry and Medicine

Debra Lerner, PhD, MS
Director, Program on Health, Work and Productivity
Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry

Laurel K. Leslie, MD, MPH
Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics
Angie Mae Rodday, MS
Assistant Professor of Medicine


Rachel Murphy-Banks, MA
Project Manager

Alissah Sillah
Research Project Coordinator

Feng Wang
Patient Navigator