Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Glorian Sorensen, PhD, MPH, is Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, and Director of the Harvard Chan Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing. She also directs the Center for Community-Based Research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.
The core of Dr. Sorensen’s research is randomized worksite-based studies that test the effectiveness of theory-driven interventions targeting changes in the work organization and environment as well as in workers’ safety and health behaviors. Her training in occupational sociology has provided a platform for focusing on the work organization and environment from a systems perspective.
She is the founding Director and Principal Investigator for the Harvard Chan Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing, funded since 2007, by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) through its Total Worker Health® Program. The Center focuses on protecting and promoting worker safety, health and wellbeing through improved conditions of work. The Center conducts ground-breaking research to determine the effectiveness of workplace policies and practices designed to support and protect workers and to identify working conditions related to improved outcomes for employees and organizations. The Center also draws on decades of experience to disseminate evidence-based workplace policies and practices, and build organizational capacity to support worker safety, health and wellbeing. The Center also provides resources for employers to address the COVID-19 crisis.
Dr. Sorensen and her research team were among the first to demonstrate that the integration of occupational health and safety with worksite health promotion can significantly enhance health behavior change among blue-collar workers. Her 1989 cluster randomized worksite intervention trial to integrate occupational health and safety and worker health behaviors demonstrated that this integrated approach significantly improved smoking cessation rates among blue-collar workers. Since then, she has designed and tested integrated interventions across a range of industries, including manufacturing, construction, health care, social service, and transportation, and with small and large worksites, in over a dozen large-scale trials. This research has focused particularly on low-wage and blue-collar workers, among whom on-the-job risks and risk-related behaviors are especially prevalent.
Dr. Sorensen is also the Principal Investigator of a NIOSH-funded study testing the effectiveness of organizational interventions to promote safety and health among low-wage food service workers. Previously, she led the development of the social contextual model for health behavior change, which addresses multiple levels of influence on cancer risk as part of a P01 funded by the National Cancer Institute, the Harvard Cancer Prevention Program Project, for which she was the PI.
Dr. Sorensen has conducted a series of tobacco control studies in India since 2003, in collaboration with the Healis-Sekhsaria Institute of Public Health in Mumbai. There is a profound need for evidence-based interventions that promote tobacco control on a large scale, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In India in 2010 alone, tobacco use accounted for over 1 million deaths. In the Bihar School Teachers Study, she and her colleagues demonstrated the efficacy of a tobacco use cessation intervention for school teachers in the state of Bihar. Dr. Sorensen current research in India, funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, aims to identify effective strategies for broad-based implementation of evidence-based tobacco control interventions using existing organizational infrastructures and accommodating the realities of low-resource settings.
Dr. Sorensen’s prior research has included a P01 program project, several U01’s, and multiple R01’s funded by NCI, NIEHS, CDC, and NIOSH, as well as through foundations, including the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She previously led the Harvard Cancer Prevention Education Program and the Training Program in the Lung Cancer Disparities Center, which train pre- and post-doctoral fellows in cancer prevention, and she continues to provide mentoring and training for students and post-doctoral fellows.
PhD, 1983, University of Minnesota
MPH, 1980, University of Minnesota