Debra Lerner, MSc, PhD

Debra Lerner, MSc, PhD Profile Photo

Dr. Debra Lerner is founder of the Program on Health, Work and Productivity, Tufts Medical Center, and Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Psychiatry of Tufts School of Medicine and Tufts Graduate School of Biomedical Science. She has dedicated her career to reducing the human and economic burden of illness and disability and translating research results into evidence-based workplace policies and practices that enable all adults to remain productive throughout their lives. She is a national thought leader on workplace mental health. Her major accomplishments include developing the Be Well at Work program, which improves the functional performance and mental health of employees with depression, and the well-known Work Limitations Questionnaire, which is used in research and evaluation worldwide. As an expert in workplace mental health, and employee health and work productivity she has been principal investigator on studies to develop employer and employee strategies to purchase high-value, patient-centered health care; improve workplace and community supports for family caregivers; and leverage the workplace to improve employee and family mental health. She is co-investigator on a Veterans Health Administration randomized trial testing a stress management intervention for employed caregivers of veterans with depression, anxiety and/or PTSD. She also co-leads the Working While Caring initiative for the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, which is engaging employers to address the needs of their employee caregivers. She recently authored a widely cited white paper, Invisible overtime: What employers need to know about caregivers (Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, 2022). Dr. Lerner has served on the board of the Health Project, which reviews corporate health and wellness programs to award the annual C. Everett Koop prize, the USDHHS Assistant Secretary’s Office for Planning and Evaluation to evaluate workplace mental health programs, and many other significant projects. She has consulted on employee health and productivity improvement for organizations including the US Veterans Benefits Administration, Social Security Administration Disability Programs, the Assistant Secretary’s Office for Planning and Evaluation within the Department of Health and Human Services, One Mind, the World Economic Forum, and many private-sector health insurers and employers and government agencies. Dr. Lerner has authored over 80 refereed publications and is the recipient of the prestigious Mark Dundon Research Award from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), and President’s Award from the Institute of Health and Productivity Management (IHPM).

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