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American Association for Public Opinion Research

Jack Fowler Biography

Floyd Jackson (Jack) Fowler, Jr., Ph.D. has been a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Survey Research, UMass Boston, since 1971. He co-founded the Center and served as Director for 14 years.

Jack received his PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan in 1966. While at Michigan, he spent 4 years working with Charles Cannell on a series of studies of error in the National Health Interview Survey. That experience served to focus his research on understanding and controlling survey error for the rest of his career. One example is his work on interviewer-related error. A major study of the role of interviewer training and supervision in error reduction led to a 1989 book, with Tom Mangione, Standardized Survey Interviewing.. Follow-up studies of the role of question design in survey error resulted in Improving Survey Questions in 1995. He is also author of Survey Research Methods, now in its 5th edition, and a co-author, with several great co-authors, of Survey Methodology.
At the Center for Survey Research, he has had the great good fortune to work with many distinguished collaborators, applying survey methodology to a range of important and interesting substantive areas: crime control, gambling law enforcement, race relations, Jewish identity and citizen views of local government, to name a few. However, the most important substantive areas of his research are related to health. He was an early contributor to research on patient-reported outcomes after treatment for various conditions including benign prostate disease, benign uterine conditions and prostate cancer. He also led survey projects to understand the causes and consequences of variation in the way medical care is delivered. That work, in turn, led to the conviction that patients need to be informed so they can be involved in medical decisions about their medical care.

From 2002 to 2009, he served as President of the Foundation for Informed Medical Decision Making, a non-profit organization devoted to informing and amplifying the voice of patients faced with medical decisions. In that role, he developed a program of funded research to learn more about how medical decisions are made, how best to inform and support patients facing decisions, and how to integrate shared decision making into routine medical care.

Jack has been a long-time member and contributor to AAPOR. In 2013, he received the AAPOR Award for Exceptionally Distinguished Achievement.