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David H. Gustafson, Ph.D.

Dr. Gustafson is a Professor of Industrial Engineering and Preventive Medicine at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. He is past chairman of the Industrial Engineering Department and founder of the Center for Health Systems Research and Analysis (CHSRA), a multi-disciplinary research center employing systems analysis, decision science and decision support technologies to address patient care and health policy problems.

In addition to serving as the Principal Investigator of the CHESS project, Dr. Gustafson is Principal Investigator for the Technology Enhancing Cancer Communication (TECC) project, a Center of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research funded by the National Cancer Institute. The five-year $10 million project will strive to improve the quality of life for cancer patients and their families, particularly those from underserved populations.

Dr.Gustafson is also the Director of the National Program Office of the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment (NIATx). The Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment is a collaborative partnership between The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Paths to Recovery program, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Center for Substance Abuse Treatment Strengthening Treatment Access and Retention (STAR) program, and a number of independent addiction treatment organizations. The mission of the Network for the Improvement of Addiction Treatment is to help providers make more efficient use of their treatment capacity and to encourage ongoing improvements in treatment access and retention throughout the substance abuse field.


Dr. Gustafson holds bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan where he was a W.K. Kellogg Fellow in Health Administration. He is listed in Who's Who in America and American Men and Women of Science. He is the 1988 recipient of the Ragnar E. Onstad Service to Society Award from the College of Engineering and his research received the 1989 American Medical Association Award of Excellence for Education and Prevention.


Dr. Gustafson's research interests focus on advancing the ability of decision science, decision support systems and systems science to improve the delivery of health and human services. Specific examples of this work include:

  1. Development and evaluation of CHESS, the Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System a computer system intended to help people in crisis. CHESS integrates expert systems, computer mediated communication, data bases and interface design with the intent of improving quality of life, health related behavior and use of health services.
  2. A computer-based system to detect suicide attemptors and a risk/rescue scale that estimates likelihood of successful suicide attempts.
  3. A computer-based decision support system (the Body Awareness Resource Network – BARN) currently placed in over 2000 sites around the U.S. to help teenagers address issues related to stress, sexuality, alcohol and other drugs, nutrition, and smoking. BARN received the 1989 AMA Award for Excellence in Education and Prevention.
  4. Decision science methodologies for measuring: nursing home quality, quality of psychiatric emergencies care, severity of illness and injuries, and need for medical service. A spin-off of these projects has been the creation of a new group process and supporting technologies for promoting consensus.
  5. Evaluations of health and social service systems including burn care, emergency medical services, nursing home regulatory processes, national health insurance and health education systems.
  6. Methodologies for analyzing options, conflicts and implementations plans. In some cases these methods have been computerized to provide managers with tools to assist on complex problem solving.
  7. Methods for measuring and facilitating the improvement of quality in nursing homes, hospitals and emergency departments.
  8. Data bases on nursing home quality, emergency medical services and adolescent health related behavior, created as a result of studies described above. These data bases have been used to examine the predictors of the quality of long-term care and psychiatric care, trauma and heart disease outcomes and adolescent substance abuse.

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