Faculty Profile

Ronald C. Kessler, PhD


McNeil Family Professor of Health Care Policy, Department of Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

See publications




Research Interests

Kessler’s research deals broadly with the social determinants of mental health and illness as studied from an epidemiological perspective. He is the author of over 600 publications and the recipient of many awards for his research, including the Senior Scientist and MERIT awards from the National Institute of Mental Health. He has been rated as the most widely cited researcher in the world in the field of psychiatry for each of the past ten years and is a member of both the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences.
Dr. Kessler is the Principal Investigator of the US National Comorbidity Survey, the first nationally representative survey of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders in the US, and a Co-Director of the World Health Organization’s World Mental Health Survey Initiative, a series of comparative community epidemiological surveys of the prevalence and correlates of mental disorders and treatment for these disorders in 28 countries around the world. In addition to his epidemiological studies, Kessler is involved in evaluating a number of innovative programs for the prevention and treatment of mental illness in high-risk segments of the population. Finally, Dr. Kessler is the Principal Investigator of the Harvard Medical School site for Army STARRS, a research program funded by the US Army and the National Institute of Mental Health to study risk and protective factors for suicide among Army personnel.

Dr. Kessler earned his PhD in sociology from New York University in 1975. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in psychiatric epidemiology at the University of Wisconsin before joining the faculty at the University of Michigan in 1979. He was a Professor of Sociology and a Program Director at Michigan’s Institute for Social Research at the time he took his current position at Harvard Medical School in 1994.

Selected Publications

Shahly V, Berglund PA, Coulouvrat C, Fitzgerald T, Hajak G, Roth T, Shillington AC, Stephenson JJ, Walsh JK, Kessler RC. The associations of insomnia with costly workplace accidents and errors: Results from the America Insomnia Survey.
Archives of General Psychiatry. In press.

Kessler RC, Berglund PA, Coulouvrat C, Fitzgerald T, Hajak G, Roth T, Shahly V, Shillington AC, Stephenson JJ, Walsh JK. Insomnia, comorbidity, and risk of injury among insured Americans: results from the America Insomnia Survey.
Sleep. 2012 Jun 1;35(6):825-34. [PMID: 22654202]

Kessler RC, Berglund PA, Coulouvrat C, Hajak G, Roth T, Shahly V, Shillington AC, Stephenson JJ, Walsh JK. Insomnia and the performance of US workers: results from the America insomnia survey.
Sleep. 2011 Sep 1;34(9):1161-71. Erratum in: Sleep. 2011;34(11):1608. Sleep. 2012 Jun;35(6):725. [PMID: 1886353]

Roth T, Coulouvrat C, Hajak G, Lakoma MD, Sampson NA, Shahly V, Shillington AC, Stephenson JJ, Walsh JK, Kessler RC. Prevalence and perceived health associated with insomnia based on DSM-IV-TR; International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision; and Research Diagnostic Criteria/International Classification of Sleep Disorders, Second Edition criteria: results from the America Insomnia Survey.
Biol Psychiatry. 2011 Mar 15;69(6):592-600. [PMID: 21195389]

Kessler RC, Coulouvrat C, Hajak G, Lakoma MD, Roth T, Sampson N, Shahly V, Shillington A, Stephenson JJ, Walsh JK, Zammit GK. Reliability and validity of the brief insomnia questionnaire in the America insomnia survey.
Sleep. 2010 Nov;33(11):1539-49. [PMID: 21102996]

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