Steven Gortmaker Ph.D.

Director, Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center (HPRC)
Harvard School of Public Health
Email: Discipline: Sociology Expertise: Child Health

Investigator Award
Changes in Health Status for Children With Chronic Health Conditions: Perspective on the Dynamics of Changing Scientific Knowledge, Services and Policy
Award Year: 1997 The number of children in the U.S. suffering chronic health conditions more than tripled in the past three decades. However, public policies and programs have lagged behind the growth of new knowledge, limiting access to needed services. Focusing on SSI, Medicaid, Maternal and Child Health, and special education, Drs. Perrin and Gortmaker examine the prevalence and program participation of children with chronic health conditions, paying close attention to children living in poverty. Their model uses a society and health approach that recognizes the importance of both socioeconomic environments in the lives of children and scientific advances. The investigators apply a case-based approach to selected chronic conditions in each of five states, studying how health and welfare policies and programs connect with scientific knowledge. Recommendations will be developed to help align policies more closely with knowledge about effective interventions in children with chronic conditions.


Steven Gortmaker a professor in the department of society, human development, and health. He also directs the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center (HPRC). His research is focused on the health of children and adolescents, particularly households living in poverty and minority populations. The major goal of his research has been to identify modifiable risks for morbidity and mortality in the young, and to both initiate and evaluate interventions to improve these outcomes. He has focused on a broad variety of risks, ranging from sociological concepts such as income poverty, social stress and social networks, to behaviors such as smoking, inactivity (exemplified by television viewing) and diet. Interventions have included work at both the level of national and state policy, programs at the regional, county, school, hospital, clinic and individual level. Research includes collaborative work with research groups at Harvard, in the Boston area, nationally, and internationally. Other collaborations include the new Donald and Sue Pritzker Nutrition and Fitness Initiative, which he co-directs with Frank Hu.