Glorian Sorensen
Primary Faculty

Glorian Sorensen

Research Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Social and Behavioral Sciences


Glorian Sorensen, PhD, MPH, stepped down as Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health in 2021. She is now semi-retired as a Research Professor and Co-Director of the Harvard Chan Center for Work, Health and Wellbeing. She also is on the faculty of Population Sciences 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. Leadership of the Center is now shared with Dr. Erika Sabbath. 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 promote worker safety, health and well-being.

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 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's research in India, funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute, has focused on developing and testing effective strategies for broad-based implementation of evidence-based tobacco control interventions using existing organizational infrastructures and accommodating the realities of low-resource settings.



Living on the streets can be deadly

People in Boston who “sleep rough”—live on the streets instead of in shelters—have a death rate that is nearly three times higher than those living in shelters and nearly 10 times higher than that of the general population…

Firefighters’ workplace cancer risk explored

Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute are taking a new approach to studying cancer risk among firefighters. They have partnered with the Boston Fire Department to conduct a novel exposure assessment…