Bruce P. Dohrenwend

Dr. Bruce Dohrenwend is Professor Emeritus of Social Science (in Psychiatry) and Epidemiology in the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University. He did his graduate work in social psychology at Cornell and his field is psychiatric epidemiology. His research has grown out of issues raised by epidemiological findings of relations between important types of psychiatric disorder and social positions defined by gender, ethnic/racial background, and socioeconomic status. His particular interest is in how adversity and stress are related to these demographic variables on the one hand, and to psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, major depression, antisocial personality disorder, substance use disorders (including alcoholism), and post-traumatic stress disorder on the other.

Dr. Dohrenwend’s most significant research contributions include investigations of the following: the causation-selection issue raised by findings of inverse relations between socioeconomic status and psychiatric disorders; the psychological effects of the Vietnam War on U.S. veterans; and stress experienced by workers and residents present at the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor meltdown in the 1970s.

Dr. Dohrenwend founded the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program (PET) at Columbia in 1975 and continued to head PET for 20 years. After that, he served as Co-Program Director until 2020.

Honors and Awards:
  • 1971    Research Scientist Award from NIMH (This 5-year award providing salary support was renewed for 1976, 1981, 1986, and 1991).
  • 1980    Distinguished Contributions Award, Division of Community Psychology, American Psychological Association.
  • 1981    Rema Lapouse Mental Health Epidemiology Award, American Public Health Association.
  • 1991    American Association for Advancement of Science (AAAS) 1990 Prize for Behavioral Science Research.
  • 1992    Emily Mumford Award, Department of Psychiatry, Columbia University.
  • 1994    Hamilton Award from the American Psychopathological Association.
  • 1994    Award for Distinguished Contributions to Psychiatric Sociology, Society for the Study of Social Problems.
  • 1999    Leo G. Reeder Award for a Distinguished Career from the Medical Sociology Section of the American Sociological Association.
  • 2004    Harvard Award for Outstanding Contributions and Lifetime Commitment to Psychiatric Epidemiology, Harvard University School of Public Health.
  • 2007    Mental Health Section of the American Sociological Association award for best publication.
  • 2008    Zubin Award received at the March 6–8, 2008 annual meeting of the American Psychopathological Association on “Causality and Psychopathology.”  “The Joe Zubin award is given to an individual who has been a seminal figure in psychopathology research, generally in a field related to the meeting topic.”

Selected from over 150 publications, including five monographs and three edited books:
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend, Itzhak Levav, Patrick E. Shrout, Sharon Schwartz, Guedalia Naveh, Bruce G. Link, Andrew E. Skodol, and Ann Stueve, “Socioeconomic Status and Psychiatric Disorders: The Causation-Selection Issue,” Science, 1992, 255, pp. 946–952.
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend, “Inventorying Stressful Life Events as Risk Factors for Psychopathology,” Psychological Bulletin, 2006, 132, pp. 477–493.
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend, J. Blake Turner, Nicholas A. Turse, Ben G. Adams, Karestan C. Koenen, and Randall Marshall. “The Psychological Risks of Vietnam for U.S. Veterans: A Revisit with New Data and Methods.” Science, 2006, 313, pp. 979–982.
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend, J. Blake Turner, Nicholas A. Turse, Roberto Lewis-Fernandez, and Thomas J. Yager, “War-Related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Black, Hispanic, and Majority White Veterans: The Roles of Exposure and Vulnerability,” Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2008, 21, pp. 133–141.
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend, Thomas J. Yager, Melanie M. Wall, and Ben G. Adams, “The Roles of Combat Exposure, Personal Vulnerability, and Involvement in Harm to Civilians or Prisoners in Vietnam War-related Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” Clinical Psychological Science, 2013, 1, pp. 223–238.
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend, Nick Turse, Thomas J. Yager, and Melanie M. Wall, Surviving Vietnam: The Psychological Consequences of the War for U.S. Veterans, New York: Oxford University Press (2019).
  • Bruce P. Dohrenwend and Thomas J. Yager, “Personal Involvement of U.S. Vietnam Veterans in Harming Civilians and Prisoners: The Roles of Antisocial Predispositions and Combat Situations,” Clinical Psychological Science, 2021, 9(5) pp. 932–943.

Grants – Principal Investigator on the following:
  • Two studies supported by small grants program of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Grant MH 07328, “Psychological Disorder: The Midtown Hypotheses” and Grant MH 07327, “Trends In Lay Appraisal.” 1962–1964
  • Program of methodological research: “Measures of Untreated Psychiatric Disorder,” Grant MH 10328 from the NIMH. 1964–1985
  • “Social and Psychological Factors in Major Depression,” Grant MH 26208 from the NIMH. 1981–1987
  • “Myofascial Pain Dysfunction Syndrome and Life Stress,” Grant DE 05989 from the National Institute of Dental Research. 1982–1996
  • “Social Stress-Social Selection and Psychiatric Disorders,” Grant MH 30710 from the NIMH. 1982–1995
  • “Israeli Reactions to Scud Attacks during the Gulf War,” Grant MH50218 from the NIMH. 1993–1996
  • “Social Status and PTSD in U.S. Veterans of the Vietnam War,” Grant MH 59309 from the NIMH. 1999–2002
  • Grants from anonymous private foundation to expand above NIMH-supported study. 1999–2004
  • “Measurement of Major Stressful Events over the Life Course,” Grant MH 59627 from the NIMH. 2001–2007
  • Grants from anonymous private foundation to expand above NIMH-supported study. 2007–2011
  • Two grants from anonymous private foundation to support development of a monograph on the above Vietnam research. 2011–2016

Last updated December 5, 2022