Gary W. Donaldson, PhD


  • English

Academic Information

  • Departments: Anesthesiology - Professor, Nursing - Adjunct Professor

Academic Bio

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

Type School Degree
Fellowship University of Denver
Predoctoral Fellow
Doctoral Training University of Denver
Experimental Psychology
Undergraduate University of Arizona
Undergraduate Harvey Mudd College
Math, Physics

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Linder LA, Al-Qaaydeh S, Donaldson G (2018). Symptom Characteristics Among Hospitalized Children and Adolescents With Cancer. Cancer Nurs, 41(1), 23-32.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. Donaldson G (2008). Patient-reported outcomes and the mandate of measurement. Qual Life Res, 17(10), 1303-13.
  17. 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.
  18. Donaldson GW (2005). Structural equation models for quality of life response shifts: promises and pitfalls. Qual Life Res, 14(10), 2345-51.
  19. 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.
  20. Donaldson GW (2003). General linear contrasts on latent variable means: structural equation hypothesis tests for multivariate clinical trials. Stat Med, 22(18), 2893-917.