Avedis Donabedian papers: 1946-2000
Summary Information
Title: Avedis Donabedian papers
Creator: Donabedian, Avedis, 1919-2000
Inclusive dates: 1946-2000
Extent: 2 linear feet
Professor of Public Health at the University of Michigan from 1961 to 1988, noted for research in the field of quality assessment of public health and service. Papers contain biographical material, correspondence, and material related to his research and professional activities, including studies for the Community Health Association of Detroit, Michigan and background on various publications.
Call number: 03136 Aa 2
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid created by Wendy Pflug, August 2003

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The papers were transferred to the Bentley Historical Library (donor no. 9245) in August 2002 and March 2003.

Access Restrictions:

The records are open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.


Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Avedis Donabedian papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Avedis Donabedian was born January 7, 1919, in Beirut, Lebanon. He attended American University of Beirut, where he earned a BA in 1940 and an MD in 1944, both with the title "with distinction." Donabedian began his medical career as physician and acting superintendent of English Mission Hospital in Jerusalem from 1945 to 1947. In April 1947, he began a post-graduate course in pediatrics and child health at the University of London. In 1948, he returned to his alma mater and began his teaching and research career as an instructor in physiology and clinical assistant in the departments of dermatology and venereology, a position he held until 1950. During this time, Donabedian also kept up his medical practice as university physician at the American University of Beirut.

In 1953, Donabedian immigrated to the United States to attend the Harvard School of Public Health. In 1955, he graduated magna cum laude with a Master's degree in Public Health (M.P.H.). Upon his graduation from Harvard University, he began research on what was to become his career specialty of medical care evaluation as a medical associate at the United Community Services of Metropolitan Boston from 1955 to 1957. In 1957 he was asked to return to the Harvard School of Public Health as a visiting lecturer in Medical Care for the 1957-1958 school year.

After Harvard, Donabedian secured a position at New York Medical College, where he was named Assistant Professor of Preventative Medicine, Consultant to the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Research Consultant on a study of rehabilitation in nursing home patients.

In 1961 Donabedian came to the University of Michigan School of Public Health, as an Associate Professor of Public Health Economics. He was promoted to full professor of Public Health Economics in July 1964. In 1966 he was appointed Professor of Medical Care Organization. During his long and distinguished career at the University of Michigan, Donabedian focused on the area of quality assessment and monitoring of health services. This research helped establish the epidemiology of patient needs and the design of program benefits for the public and private sectors. In recognition of his achievements in the field of public health, he was honored as the Nathan Sinai Distinguished Professor of Public Health in 1979. Donabedian published eight books and wrote numerous articles in the field of health service. He was most widely known for developing the "Donabedian paradigm," an idea that was the basis for the concept and design of the statistical model used for hospital rankings. His work has been translated into several languages, and is known internationally.

In 1989, Donabedian retired from the University of Michigan and was awarded emeritus status. In retirement he frequently lectured at international conferences on public health and service. He stayed active in the field by serving on various editorial boards for medical journals. For relaxation he wrote poetry and studied Arabic.

Donabedian's pioneering contributions to the development of systematic frameworks for understanding health service established him as one of the preeminent scholars in the field. In 1999 he was awarded one of public health's highest honors, the Sedgwick Memorial Medal for Distinguished Service in Public Health, awarded by the American Public Health Association.

Donabedian's many other honors have included the George Welch Medal of the American Medical Association (1976) and the Dean Conley Award (1969) by the American College of Hospital Administrators. He was among the original members inaugurated in the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, honorary member of the National Academy of Mexico, and the Royal College of General Practitioners of the United Kingdom. Foundations in his name have been established in Italy, Spain, and Argentina.

Avedis Donabedian died November 9, 2000, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His wife Dorothy died in 2003. He was survived by his sons Haig, Beij, and Armen.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The papers of Avedis Donabedian document his career as professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health and in the medical research field from 1946 to 1997. The papers are divided into three series: Correspondence, Research and Professional Activities, and Biographical.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.

  • Medical care -- Quality control.
  • Health service administration.
  • Medical care -- Evaluation.
  • Donabedian, Avedis.
  • University of Michigan. School of Public Health.
  • University of Michigan. Dept. of Medical Care Organization.
  • Community Health Association (Detroit, Mich.)
  • University of Michigan -- Faculty.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
Correspondence [series]

The Correspondence series, 1946-1997 (1.2 linear feet), contains professional communication concerning Donabedian's work. It is the largest series in the collection, and reflects his long and distinguished career. The correspondence series contains many letters inviting him to lecture at international public health colloquiums, communications with others professionals in his field, and requests for reprints of his work in medical anthologies.

Box   1  
Correspondence 1946-1991 (18 folders)
Box   2  
Correspondence 1992-1997 (3 folders)
Research and Professional Activities [series]

The Research and Professional Activities series, 1957-1993 (0.8 linear feet), documents Donabedian's scholarly work in the field of public health and service. Included are studies conducted early in his career such as prenatal studies, and the monitoring of health service provided by Community Health Associates in Detroit, Michigan. Of particular note is a folder of yearly reports Donabedian submitted to the School of Public Health. The reports give a detailed list of activities and research published from the years 1965 to 1988.

Box   2  
Development of Community Health Associates 1957-1959
Box   2  
Prenatal Care Studies 1958
Box   2  
Avedis Donabedian, MD, Consultants Management 1958-1959
Community Health Associates
Box   2  
Membership Statistics 1960-1964 (2 folders)
Box   2  
Research Projects 1959-1964
Box   2  
Service Statistics 1960-1963
Box   2  
Interviews with Metropolitan Hospital and Clinics Physicians 1962
Box   2  
Windsor Medical Services Research Project 1960-1961
Box   2  
Research Grant Information 1961-1963
Box   2  
Research Papers 1958-1965 (2 folders)
Box   2  
University of Michigan School of Public Health Course Materials 1963-1967 (scattered)
Box   2  
Yearly Reports 1965-1988
Box   2  
Editorial Board Reviews for Journals 1975-1993 (scattered) (2 folders)
Box   2  
Medical Care Chartbook, Eighth and Ninth Edition Revisions 1980-1990
Biographical [series]

The Biographical series, 1953-2000 (0.2 linear feet), is a miscellaneous collection of papers and articles chronicling the personal life of Avedis Donabedian. Included are his United States Citizenship papers, and license to practice medicine. Also included are photos of Donabedian and his wife, Dorothy. Of particular note are selected poems written by Donabedian, which give insight into his personal thoughts.

Box   2  
Biography Miscellaneous 1953-1993 (scattered)
Box   2  
Box   2  
Poetry 1995-1996
Box   2  
Press Articles on Avedis Donabedian 1962-1987, 2000 (scattered)