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Gary W. Donaldson

Gary W. Donaldson, PhD

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments , Primary - Anesthesiology

Academic Office Information

Professor and Director, Pain Research Center

Department of Anesthesiology

Member, Huntsman Cancer Institute

Cancer Control & Population Sciences

Adjunct Professor, College of Nursing

My background is as an applied multivariate statistician and psychologist working to understand how pain interacts with biobehavioral and psychosocial factors to limit functioning both in cancer patients and those with chronic disabling conditions such as fibromyalgia. I have served as the director of the biostatistics cores of two large NCI-funded program projects at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Utah, and have served as PI of two projects at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center investigating longitudinal quality of life outcomes in patients receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplants for rescue from hematological malignancies, and have also led two projects that developed innovative quality of life measurement in chronic pain and cancer populations. These studies of innovative measurement approaches led to the development of CAPA, the Clinically Aligned Pain Assessment, now widely used in the University of Utah Hospital. At the Pain Research Center, we investigate the perception, causes, and consequences of pain. This requires a broad view, recognizing that pain is a complex multidimensional experience that cannot be reduced to pain “signals” traveling this way and that through the nervous system. Rather, pain is an active, dynamic construction that depends not just on sensory input but also on psychological processes, personal history, one's social and cultural environment, and the unique individual attributes that help form and sustain the perception of this pernicious state. The complex multidimensional construct of pain is difficult to study without an overarching methodological perspective. Consistent, incisive analytical methods can elaborate theoretical understanding of pain and its co-evolving symptoms. My interests in particular concern better ways to measure pain, understand its causes, and faithfully represent the vast variation in individual responses to objectively similar painful situations. New developments in statistical and causal modeling have been critical for these investigations, and many of my publications are either applications of these methods or didactic illustrations of the new methods in both cancer and chronic pain populations. Individual differences in treatment response are the rule, not the exception. Explaining the origin and development of these individual differences has been a central motivating passion of my career. "What works for whom, and why?" is a question at least as important to patients as whether a treatment has an average benefit in the population. When a benefit is seen for a treatment, new causal methods can now let us begin to answer Judea Pearl's trenchant question, "Did the benefit happen because of, despite, or regardless of, the treatment?" Answering these questions provides deep understanding and a revitalized basis for extending the quality and quantity of every individual life.

Education History

Fellowship University of Denver
Predoctoral Fellow
University of Denver
Undergraduate University of Arizona
Undergraduate Harvey Mudd College

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Garland EL, Nakamura Y, Bryan CJ, Hanley AW, Parisi A, Froeliger B, Marchand WR, Donaldson GW (2024). Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement for Veterans and Military Personnel on Long-Term Opioid Therapy for Chronic Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Am J Psychiatry, appiajp20230272. (Read full article)
  2. Mooney KH, Coombs LA, Whisenant MS, Wilson CM, Moraitis AM, Steinbach MN, Sloss EA, Lloyd JLE, Alekhina N, Berry PH, Kang Y, Iacob E, Donaldson GW (2023). Impact of an automated, remote monitoring and coaching intervention in reducing hospice cancer family caregiving burden: A multisite randomized controlled trial. Cancer. (Read full article)
  3. Ferrari LF, Wilkinson A, Cahoon C, Ramirez A, Rey C, Donaldson GW, Taylor NE (2024). Descending Control of Nociception Poorly Predicts the Development of Persistent Postsurgical Pain-like Behavior in Consomic Dahl S Rat Strains. Anesthesiology, 139(4), 476-491. (Read full article)
  4. Reblin M, Iacob E, Tay DL, Li H, Thomas Hebdon MC, Beck A, Donaldson G, Cloyes KG, Ellington L (2022). Family Caregiver Reports of Their Own and Patient Symptoms in Cancer Home Hospice Approaching End-of-Life. Am J Hosp Palliat Care, 40(5), 508-516. (Read full article)
  5. Yang R, Jensen FB, Edelman LS, Cloyes KG, Donaldson GW, Sanders NA, Pepper GA (2023). "Being careful": How much caution is enough? The relational context of fear of older adult falling in older adult-family caregiver dyads. Geriatr Nurs, 51, 129-135. (Read full article)
  6. Garland EL, Fix ST, Hudak JP, Bernat EM, Nakamura Y, Hanley AW, Donaldson GW, Marchand WR, Froeliger B (2021). Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement remediates anhedonia in chronic opioid use by enhancing neurophysiological responses during savoring of natural rewards. Psychol Med, 53(5), 2085-2094. (Read full article)
  7. Mooney K, Whisenant MS, Wilson CM, Coombs LA, Lloyd J, Alekhina N, Sloss EA, Steinbach M, Moraitis AM, Berry P, Iacob E, Donaldson G (2023). Technology-Assisted mHealth Caregiver Support to Manage Cancer Patient Symptoms: A Randomized Controlled Trial. J Pain Symptom Manage. (Read full article)
  8. Garland EL, Hanley AW, Nakamura Y, Barrett JW, Baker AK, Reese SE, Riquino MR, Froeliger B, Donaldson GW (2022). Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement vs Supportive Group Therapy for Co-occurring Opioid Misuse and Chronic Pain in Primary Care: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med, 182(4), 407-417. (Read full article)
  9. Okifuji A, Mitsunaga R, Kida Y, Donaldson GW (2021). The visual time analog scale: simple, novel measurement approach to assess pain in patients with chronic pain. Pain Manag, 11(4), 357-368. (Read full article)
  10. Yang R, Donaldson GW, Edelman LS, Cloyes KG, Sanders NA, Pepper GA (2020). Fear of older adult falling questionnaire for caregivers (FOAFQ-CG): Evidence from content validity and item-response theory graded-response modelling. J Adv Nurs, 76(10), 2768-2780. (Read full article)
  11. Unger JM, Griffin K, Donaldson GW, Baranowski KM, Good MJ, Reburiano E, Hussain M, Monk PJ, Van Veldhuizen PJ, Carducci MA, Higano CS, Lara PN, Tangen CM, Quinn DI, Wade JL III, Vogelzang NJ, Thompson IM Jr, Moinpour CM (2017). Patient-reported outcomes for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer receiving docetaxel and Atrasentan versus docetaxel and placebo in a randomized phase III clinical trial (SWOG S0421). J Patient Rep Outcomes, 2, 27. (Read full article)
  12. Iacob E, Hagn EE, Sindt J, Brogan S, Tadler SC, Kennington KS, Hare BD, Bokat CE, Donaldson GW, Okifuji A, Junkins SR (2017). Tertiary Care Clinical Experience with Intravenous Lidocaine Infusions for the Treatment of Chronic Pain. Pain Med, 19(6), 1245-1253. (Read full article)
  13. Linder LA, Al-Qaaydeh S, Donaldson G (2018). Symptom Characteristics Among Hospitalized Children and Adolescents With Cancer. Cancer Nurs, 41(1), 23-32. (Read full article)
  14. Neikrug AB, Donaldson G, Iacob E, Williams SL, Hamilton CA, Okifuji A (2017). Activity rhythms and clinical correlates in fibromyalgia. Pain, 158(8), 1417-1429. (Read full article)
  15. Moinpour CM, Donaldson GW, Davis KM, Potosky AL, Jensen RE, Gralow JR, Back AL, Hwang JJ, Yoon J, Bernard DL, Loeffler DR, Rothrock NE, Hays RD, Reeve BB, Smith AW, Hahn EA, Cella D (2017). The challenge of measuring intra-individual change in fatigue during cancer treatment. Qual Life Res, 26(2), 259-271. (Read full article)
  16. Himes DO, Clayton MF, Donaldson GW, Ellington L, Buys SS, Kinney AY (2016). Breast Cancer Risk Perceptions among Relatives of Women with Uninformative Negative BRCA1/2 Test Results: The Moderating Effect of the Amount of Shared Information. J Genet Couns, 25(2), 258-69. (Read full article)
  17. Nakamura Y, Lipschitz DL, Kuhn R, Kinney AY, Donaldson GW (2013). Investigating efficacy of two brief mind-body intervention programs for managing sleep disturbance in cancer survivors: a pilot randomized controlled trial. J Cancer Surviv, 7(2), 165-82. (Read full article)
  18. Moinpour CM, Darke AK, Donaldson GW, Cespedes D, Johnson CR, Ganz PA, Patrick DL, Ware JE Jr, Shumaker SA, Meyskens FL, Thompson IM Jr (2012). Health-related quality-of-life findings for the prostate cancer prevention trial. J Natl Cancer Inst, 104(18), 1373-85. (Read full article)
  19. Moinpour CM, Donaldson GW, Liepa AM, Melemed AS, OShaughnessy J, Albain KS (2012). Evaluating health-related quality-of-life therapeutic effectiveness in a clinical trial with extensive nonignorable missing data and heterogeneous response: results from a phase III randomized trial of gemcitabine plus paclitaxel versus paclitaxel monotherapy in patients with metastatic breast cancer. Qual Life Res, 21(5), 765-75. (Read full article)
  20. Nakamura Y, Donaldson GW, Kuhn R, Bradshaw DH, Jacobson RC, Chapman CR (2011). Investigating dose-dependent effects of placebo analgesia: a psychophysiological approach. Pain, 153(1), 227-37. (Read full article)
  21. Okifuji A, Donaldson GW, Barck L, Fine PG (2010). Relationship between fibromyalgia and obesity in pain, function, mood, and sleep. J Pain, 11(12), 1329-37. (Read full article)
  22. Chapman CR, Lipschitz DL, Angst MS, Chou R, Denisco RC, Donaldson GW, Fine PG, Foley KM, Gallagher RM, Gilson AM, Haddox JD, Horn SD, Inturrisi CE, Jick SS, Lipman AG, Loeser JD, Noble M, Porter L, Rowbotham MC, Schoelles KM, Turk DC, Volinn E, Von Korff MR, Webster LR, Weisner CM (2010). Opioid pharmacotherapy for chronic non-cancer pain in the United States: a research guideline for developing an evidence-base. J Pain, 11(9), 807-29. (Read full article)
  23. Donaldson GW, Nakamura Y, Moinpour C (2009). Mediators, moderators, and modulators of causal effects in clinical trials--Dynamically Modified Outcomes (DYNAMO) in health-related quality of life. Qual Life Res, 18(2), 137-45. (Read full article)
  24. Donaldson G (2008). Patient-reported outcomes and the mandate of measurement. Qual Life Res, 17(10), 1303-13. (Read full article)
  25. Moinpour CM, Darke AK, Donaldson GW, Thompson IM Jr, Langley C, Ankerst DP, Patrick DL, Ware JE Jr, Ganz PA, Shumaker SA, Lippman SM, Coltman CA Jr (2007). Longitudinal analysis of sexual function reported by men in the Prostate Cancer Prevention Trial. J Natl Cancer Inst, 99(13), 1025-35. (Read full article)
  26. Donaldson GW (2005). Structural equation models for quality of life response shifts: promises and pitfalls. Qual Life Res, 14(10), 2345-51. (Read full article)
  27. Donaldson GW, Moinpour CM (2005). Learning to live with missing quality-of-life data in advanced-stage disease trials. J Clin Oncol, 23(30), 7380-4.
  28. Donaldson GW (2003). General linear contrasts on latent variable means: structural equation hypothesis tests for multivariate clinical trials. Stat Med, 22(18), 2893-917. (Read full article)