Daniel Gundersen

Adjunct Professor &

Collaborative Researcher, Survey and Data Management Core (SDMC)

Department of Public Policy


B.A., Psychology, University of Connecticut (UConn), Storrs, CT
M.A., Survey Research, UConn
Ph.D., Public Health, Rutgers / University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ), Newark, NJ


I am a collaborative researcher at the Survey and Data Management Core (SDMC). The SDMC designs and implements survey studies for investigators at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center (DFHCC), and other Harvard affiliated institutions.  This includes developing and evaluating survey instruments using psychometric methods, designing sampling and data collection protocols, and programming and implementing single- and multi-mode surveys. I provide scientific leadership for the Core’s activities and serve as the principal methodological consultant for investigators using the Core’s services. I also lecture on survey design and analysis to enhance the survey capacity at Harvard-affiliated academic health care centers. My expertise is in developing survey instruments and data collection protocols for patients (patient reported outcomes [PROs]), community members, and health care professionals in different settings. I am currently Multiple-Principal Investigator on an NCI funded R01 grant entitled “Cell Phone RDD Sampling to Reach Young Adults for Tobacco Control Surveillance” (5R01CA149705). The project’s aims are to develop methods for collecting longitudinal survey data by efficiently leveraging mobile technologies for sampling, recruitment, multi-mode data collection, and cohort retention. I use my methodological expertise to ensure investigators’ research designs produce valid and reliable self-reported data at a low burden to respondents that is collected and analyzed in a reproducible manner.

My methodological work and collaborative work with DFCI and DF/HCC investigators has concentrated in two primary areas: (1) advancing survey methodology, and (2) developing single item and latent measures for health services research.

  • My work in survey methodology has focused on solving applied sampling and measurement problems. It has sought to find the best and most efficient ways to sample hard-to-reach populations such as young adults, and on understanding challenges and opportunities for using mobile technology for collecting self-reported health data. The long-term goal of this line of research is to identify and leverage efficiencies in mobile technology to collect more data at a low respondent burden. The outcomes of this research enhance not only cancer research, but survey research in a variety of settings and substantive areas within and beyond health.

My work in item and latent scale development has focused on applying both qualitative and quantitative methods to developing new health measures such as use of non-cigarette and emerging tobacco products, patients’ knowledge of multigene panel testing for cancer risk, and perceived discrimination among disadvantages populations, The goal of this line of research is to create reliable measures that can easily be implemented in research and clinical settings. The long-term goal of my research in this area is to use tools from item response theory to identify brief measures that are reliable for sub-populations of interest. My goal is to integrate this approach to latent variable modeling in mobile data collection, so each patient is provided a subset of items based in part on prior information about participants. This will allow researchers to get reliable data about complicated constructs without overburdening respondents.

Daniel Gundersen
Contact Information
CampusHartford Campus