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McDonald, Ph.D.

Principal Associate, Health & Environment

Douglas McDonald specializes in research and evaluation of criminal justice policies and institutions, healthcare, and drug use and control. A veteran of Abt Associates for more than 25 years, McDonald’s research often combines qualitative studies of institutional processes, quantitative analyses of large data sets, and cost analyses.
McDonald’s recent work is focused on understanding prescription drug abuse and efforts to prevent it. This has included epidemiological analyses of the nature and extent of misuse, as well as evaluations of programs aiming to control prescribing and dispensing practices of dangerous prescription drugs such as opioid painkillers, sedatives, and stimulants used for treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He has also conducted studies of criminal sentencing, prison healthcare systems, probation, parole and pretrial organizations, prison privatization, and evaluations of bioterror response plans, among other topics. 


  • Criminal justice institutions, policies and practices
  • Criminal sentencing
  • Prescription and illicit drug use and abuse

Key Projects

  • Development and Evaluation of a Technical Package on Coordinated Care for Chronic Opioid Therapy, CDC
  • Medicare Part D Opioid Policy Impact Evaluation, CMS
  • Field Experiment to Estimate Cost-Effectiveness of Proactive Reporting by Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs, CDC  
  • Examination of Criminal Defendants’ Pretrial Failure in the District of Columbia, Pretrial Services Agency of the District of Columbia

Selected Publications

  • Douglas McDonald & Kenneth Carlson, The ecology of prescription opioid abuse in the USA: geographic variation in patients' use of multiple prescribers (“doctor shopping”)Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. (December 2014.)
  • Douglas McDonald & Sarah Jalbert, “Geographic Variation and Disparity in Stimulant Treatment of Adults and Children in the United States,” Psychiatric Services. 64(11):1079-1086 (November 2013)
  • Douglas McDonald & Kenneth Carlson, “Estimating the Prevalence of Opioid Diversion by ‘Doctor Shoppers’ in the United States. PLOS ONE  (July 17, 2013). 
  • Douglas McDonald, Kenneth Carlson and David Izrael, “Geographic Variation in Opioid Prescribing in the U.S.” Journal of Pain, Vol. 13, No., 1. 988-996 (October 2012)
  • Books and Book Chapters
  • Douglas McDonald, “Growth of the Private Sector,” in Peter M. Carlson, Prison and Jail Administration: Practice and Theory, (3rd edition) Newport News, VA: Jones and Barlett Learning. 2013.
  • Douglas McDonald (ed.), Private Prisons and the Public Interest, Rutgers University Press (1990).
  • Douglas McDonaldPunishment Without Walls: Community Service Sentences in New York City, Rutgers University Press (1986).
  • Douglas McDonaldThe Price of Punishment: Public Spending for Corrections in New York, Westview Press (1980).
Douglas McDonald