Professor Robert Blendon Receives the 2008 Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research

October 3, 2008

The Board of Directors of the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research is pleased to announce that Professor Robert Blendon of Harvard University is the recipient of the second Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research. The award recognizes Blendon’s pioneering use of public opinion data to better understand health care problems and craft more effective policy solutions.

A professor of health policy and political analysis at Harvard’s School of Public Health and John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of the Harvard Program on Public Opinion and Health and Social Policy, Blendon has worked for more than twenty years with colleagues in the United States and abroad to study how public opinion relates to policy. Blendon’s studies, reported in more than 200 articles, have been published in venues reaching an enormously wide range of professional, scholarly, and general audiences: the medical profession, through the Journal of the American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine; health care practitioners and lay audiences, through journals like Inquiry and Health Affairs; economists, through the Journal of Economic Perspectives; and political scientists and others through chapters in academic books. He also has enriched the public debate by sharing his insights with a wider audience through many articles published in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and other major news outlets.

Blendon is best known for his analysis of public opinion and voting behavior on health policy and other domestic issues, for his work comparing public satisfaction with national health systems in twelve countries and for his research on public attitudes on Social Security and Medicare reform. In addition, he has served as a senior faculty member for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National Governor's Association, and the U.S. Congress Committee on Ways and Means.

His research in the service of policy has firmly established Blendon as a public scholar who effectively bridges the gap between those who make health policy and those who study it. His longstanding expertise in the health care policy arena has made him an invaluable and sought-after colleague for academics and policymakers in the United States and worldwide. His work paints a finely nuanced picture of public opinion on health care issues as it differs across groups and over time. His scholarship has allowed us to better discern what the public knows about health care and how this knowledge can be used to develop and implement effective policies.

Blendon’s groundbreaking projects have made extensive use of the Roper Center archive, which has helped showcase the archive to national and international audiences. In addition, Blendon and his colleagues and collaborating organizations have conducted their own original surveys that have in turn helped enrich the Roper Center’s holdings. In recognizing Blendon’s contributions through his continually evolving research, the Roper Center affirms the powerful role that public opinion plays in shaping policy and understanding society more broadly.
The Warren J. Mitofsky Award for Excellence in Public Opinion Research was established as a tribute to Warren Mitofsky who was chairman of the Roper Center Board of Directors. The Center established a fund in his name to support the Roper Center and sponsor an annual award for outstanding work utilizing the Center’s archival holdings. The Award Committee members were Michael Hout, Patricia Moy, Richard Morin, Tom W. Smith, and Robert Shapiro (Chair).


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