Deborah J. Cohen, Ph.D.

  • Professor of Family Medicine, School of Medicine
  • Biomedical Informatics Graduate Program, School of Medicine


Deborah Cohen, Ph.D., 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.



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