• Researcher Profile

    Glorian Sorensen, PhD, MPH

    Glorian Sorensen, PhD, MPH
    Professor of Society, Human Development, and Health, Harvard School of Public Health
    Faculty Vice President for Faculty Development
    Director, DFCI Center for Community-Based Research

    Office phone: 617-632-2183
    Fax: 617-632-1999
    Email: glorian_sorensen@dfci.harvard.edu
    Website: The Sorensen Lab

    Preferred contact method: email

    Research Department

    Medical Oncology/Population Sciences

    Area of Research

    Center for Community-Based Research

    Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    450 Brookline Avenue
    375 Longwood Avenue 717
    Boston, MA 02215


    Dr. Sorensen received her MPH in 1980 and her PhD in sociology in 1983 from the University of Minnesota, where she subsequently served as a research fellow with the School of Public Health. She later joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and in 1992 joined Harvard School of Public Health and DFCI, where she now directs the Center for Community-Based Research. She is the DFCI's Faculty Vice President for Faculty Development, and oversees the DFCI's Office for Faculty Development. She is also Professor of Society, Human Development and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.

    Recent Awards

    • Fulbright Award: Social disparities in tobacco use in India, 2003


    Center for Community-Based Research

    Dana-Farber's Center for Community-Based Research, directed by Dr. Sorensen, focuses on research in cancer prevention and control. The core of our work is randomized worksite- and community-based studies that test the effectiveness of theory-driven interventions targeting individual and organizational change. This research focuses particularly on redressing disparities in cancer risk by socioeconomic position and race/ethnicity. Interventions are designed for low income, multiethnic populations - including blue-collar and service workers - and are embedded in the social context or environment in which people live.

    We conducted the first randomized controlled worksite-intervention trials to demonstrate the benefits of an integrated approach to improving health behaviors among blue-collar workers at high risk of both job-related exposures and lifestyle behaviors such as tobacco use and diet. We tested this approach at large and small manufacturing worksites with construction laborers, truck drivers, and other motor freight workers. Recently, we initiated a new study to examine both individual health behaviors and hazardous environmental exposures within low-income housing developments.

    Another study, Cancer Control in Working Class, Multiethnic Populations, included intervention research in small businesses and health centers, and the development of a cancer prevention model that uses the results of these interventions to estimate the long-term benefits of cancers avoided and costs saved. Study results demonstrated the efficacy of a social context model for promoting changes in health behavior across diverse populations.

    From 2003 to 2004, Dr. Sorensen conducted studies in Mumbai, India, at the Tata Institute for Fundamental Research, through a Fulbright Award. This research with Indian collaborators focused on disparities in tobacco use in India, and examined tobacco-use patterns among school teachers. Currently, Dr. Sorensen leads the Massachusetts Cancer Prevention Community Research Network, a collaboration with Boston University to foster research with community partners.

    Select Publications

    • Sorensen G, Stoddard A, LaMontagne A, Emmons K, Hunt MK, Youngstrom R, McLellan D, Christiani D. A comprehensive worksite cancer prevention intervention: behavior change results from a randomized controlled trial (United States). J Public Health Policy 2003;24:5-25.
    • Sorensen G, Emmons K, Hunt MK, Barbeau E, Goldman R, Peterson K, Kuntz K, Stoddard A, Berkman L. Model for incorporating social context in health behavior interventions: applications for cancer prevention for working-class, multiethnic populations. Prev Med 2003;37:188-97.
    • Sorensen G, Barbeau, E, Hunt MK, Emmons K. Reducing social disparities in tobacco use: a social contextual model for reducing tobacco use among blue-collar workers. Am J Public Health 2004;94:230-9.
    • Sorensen G, Fagan P, Hunt MK, Stoddard AM, Girod K, Eisenberg M, Frazier L. Changing channels for tobacco control with youth: developing an intervention for working teens. Health Educ Res 2004;19:250-60.
    • Sorensen G, Gupta PC, Sinha DN, Shastri S, Kamat M, Pednekar MS, Ramakrishnan S. Teacher tobacco use and tobacco use prevention in two regions in India: results of the Global School Personnel Survey. Prev Med 2005;41:417-23.
    • Sorensen G, Gupta PC, Sinha DN, Shastri S, Kamat M, Pednekar MS, Ramakrishnan S. Teacher tobacco use and tobacco use prevention in two regions in India: qualitative research findings. Prev Med 2005;41:424-32.
    • Sorensen G, Gupta PC, Pednekar MS. Social disparities in tobacco use in Mumbai, India: the roles of occupation, education, and gender. Am J Public Health 2005;95:1003-8.
    • Barbeau EM, Goldman R, Roelofs C, Gagne J, Harden E, Conlan K, Stoddard A, Sorensen G. A new channel for health promotion: building trade unions. Am J Health Promot 2005;19:297-303.
    • Sorensen G, Barbeau EM, Stoddard AM, Hunt MK, Kaphingst K, Wallace L. Promoting behavior change among working-class, multiethnic workers: results of the healthy directions-small business study. Am J Public Health 2005;95:1389-95.
    • LaMontagne AD, Stoddard AM, Youngstrom RA, Lewiton M, Klar JM, Sorensen G. Improving the prevention and control of hazardous substance exposures: a randomized controlled trial in manufacturing worksites. Am J Ind Med 2005;48:282-92.
    • Sorensen G,  Quintiliani L, Pereira L, Yang M, Stoddard AM. Work experiences and tobacco use: Findings from the Gear Up for Health Study. J Occup Env Med 2009 Jan;51(1):87-94.
    • Buxton OM, Ebbeling CB, Stoddard A, Pereira L, Yang, M, Quintiliani L, Sorensen G.  Association of sleep adequacy with more healthful food choices and positive workplace experiences among motor freight workers. Am J Public Health Suppl 3, 2009, 99(S3): S1-S8.
    • Harley AE, Devine CM, Beard B, Stoddard AM, Hunt MK, Sorensen G. Multiple health behavior changes in a cancer prevention intervention for construction workers, 2001-2003. Prev Chronic Dis 2010, May;7(3):A55. Epub 2010 May 15.
    • Sorensen G, Stoddard A, Quintiliani L, Ebbeling C, Nagler E, Yang M, Pereira L, Wallace L. Tobacco use cessation and weight management among motor freight workers: results of the Gear Up for Health Study. Cancer Cause Control, 2010, Dec;21(12):2113-22
    • Sorensen G, Landsbergis P, Hammer L, Amick B, Linnan L, Yancey A, Welch L, Goetzel R, Flannery K, Pratt C, and the Workshop Working Group on Worksite Chronic Disease Prevention. Preventing chronic disease at the workplace: A workshop report and recommendations. Am J Public Health 2011 Dec;101 Suppl 1:S196-207.
    • Sorensen G, Stoddard AM, Stoffel S, Buxton O, Sembajwe G, Hashimoto D, Dennerlein JT, Hopcia K. The role of the work context in multiple wellness outcomes for hospital patient care workers. J Occup Environ Med 2011 Aug;53(8):899-910.
    • Nelson C, Sapp A, Berkman LF, Li Y, Sorensen G, Allocation of household responsibilities influences changes in dietary behavior. Soc Sci Med 2011 Nov; 73(10):1517-1524
    • Sorensen G, Gupta PC, Nagler EM, Viswanath K. Promoting life skills and preventing tobacco use among low-income Mumbai youth: Effects of Salaam Bombay Foundation intervention. PLoS ONE 2012 ;7(4):e34982. Epub 2012 Apr 16.
    • Nagler E, Pednekar M, Viswanath K, Sinha D, Aghi M, Pischke C, Ebbeling C, Lando H, Gupta P, Sorensen G. Designing in the social context: Using the social contextual model of health behavior change to develop a tobacco control intervention for teachers in India. Health Educ Res 2012 June 4.
    • Caspi CE, Adamkiewicz G, Sorensen G. the relationship between diet and perceived and objective access to supermarkets among low-income housing residents. Soc Sci Med (in press).


    • Connorton, Ellen, ScD
    • Nelson, Candace, ScD
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