Deborah Cohen, PHD

Deborah Cohen, PhD, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Oregon Health & Science University. She has been developing her skills in qualitative methods for more than 20 years, and has spent more than a decade studying primary care practices, with a focus on clinician-patient communication, practice change and improvement and health information technology use.

Dr. Cohen has expertise in a range of qualitative methods and approaches, including interviewing, observation, and conversation analysis. Dr. Cohen is a highly skilled analyst, and she has experience supervising qualitative teams in data collection, management and analysis of qualitative and mixed methods data.

Dr. Cohen uses her qualitative expertise on mixed methods teams to look at how improvements are implemented in primary care practices, to identify what changes are made, and to compare the effectiveness of observed practice change on process and outcomes measures. She has been a Principal Investigator on several federal and foundation funded grants, leading mixed methods teams to understand and tackle the complicated problems related to implementing and disseminating new innovations and important quality improvements in primary care practice. Her work has focused on comparing the effectiveness of approaches for improving preventive services, health behavior and behavioral and mental health care in the primary care setting.

In addition to her research, Dr. Cohen mentors and teaches on the topics of qualitative methods and practice change and improvement. She is an Associate Editor for the Annals of Family Medicine, and she created a web-based resource for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that is designed for people with an interest in qualitative research (

Areas of Research Keywords

Qualitative and Mixed-methods Research, Practice-based Research, Primary Care Practice Change and Improvement, Dissemination and Implementation Research, EHR Use, Integration of Behavioral Health and Primary Care, Preventive Service Delivery.

Recent Publications

DeVoe JE, Angier H, Likumahuwa S, Hall J, Nelson C, Dickerson K, Keller S, Burdick T, Cohen DJ. [Senior Author] (in press) Use of Qualitative Methods and User-Centered Design to Develop Customized Health Information Technology Tools within Federally-Qualified Health Centers to Keep Children Insured. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management.

McConnell, KJ, Chang, AM, Cohen, DJ, Wallace, N, Chernew, ME, Kautz, G, McCarty, D, McFarland, B, Wright, B, and Smith, J. Oregon’s Medicaid Transformation: An innovative approach to holding a health system accountable for spending growth. Health Care: The Journal of Delivery Science and Innovation. (In press).

Davis MM, Balasubramanian BA, Waller E, Miller BF, Green LA, Cohen DJ [Senior Author]. (in press) Integrating Behavioral and Physical Health Care in the Real-World: Early Lessons from Advancing Care Together. J Am Board Fam Med September-October 2013; 26:588-602; doi:10.3122/jabfm.2013.05.130028.

Friedman, A. Crosson, JC, Howard, J, Clark, EC, Pellerano, M, Karsh, BT, Crabtree, BF, Jaén, CR, Cohen, DJ. [Senior Author.] A Typology of Electronic Health Record Workarounds in Small-to-Medium Size Primary Care Practices. J Am Med Inform Assoc Published Online First: [August 1, 2013] doi:10.1136/amiajnl- 2013-001686.

Cohen, DJ. In this issue: How we think and feel influences patient care. Ann Fam Med. 2013. 11(1). 2-4. doi:10.1370/afm.1447.

Howard, J, Clark, EC, Friedman, A, Crosson, JC, Pellerano, M, Crabtree, BF, Karsh, B, Jaén, CR, Bell, DS, Cohen, DJ. [Senior Author]. Electronic Health Record Impact on Work Burden in Small, Unaffiliated Community-based Primary Care Practices. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Jan 28 (1), 107-18. doi: 10.1007/s11606-012-2192-4.

Davis, MM, Keller, S, DeVoe, J, Cohen, DJ. [Senior Author]. Characteristics and Lessons Learned from Practice-based Research Networks (PBRNs) in the United States. Journal of Health Care Leadership. 4: 107-116. 2012.

Isaacson, N., Holtrop, JS, Cohen, DJ, and Ferrer, RL, McKee, MD. Examining role change in primary care practice. Journal of Primary care and Community Health. 2012. 3(3). 195-200.

Crosson, J. Cohen, DJ. Et al. Typical electronic health record use in primary car practices is not meaningful for improving diabetes care quality. Annals of Family Medicine. 2012. 10, 3. 221-227.

Fields, SA, Cohen, DJ. Performance enhancement using a balanced scorecard in a Patient-centered Medical Home. Family Medicine. 2011. 43(10). 2325-9.

Ash JS, Sittig DF, McMullen CK, McCormack JL, Wright A, Bunce A, Wasserman J, Mohan V, Cohen DJ, Shapiro M, Middleton B. Studying the vendo perspective on clinical decision support. AMIA Annu Symp Proc. 2011;2011:80-7. Epub 2011 Oct 22.

Cohen, DJ. Balasubramanian, BA. Isaacson, NF. Clark, EC. Etz, RS. Crabtree, BF. Coordination of health behavior counseling in primary care. Annals of Family Medicine. (2011). 9(5): 406-415.

Cohen, DJ. Clark, EC, Lawson, PJ, Casucci, B. Flocke, SA. Identifying teachable moments for health behavior counseling in primary care. Patient Education and Counseling. (2010) doi:10.1016/j.pec.2010.11.009.