Robert S. Broadhead

Professor Emeritus of Sociology

Post. Doc., 1979,University of California, Los Angeles
Ph.D., 1978, Sociology, University of California, San Francisco

Biographical Statement:

Beginning in the mid-1980s, I worked in applying sociological theory and methods to preventing drug-related diseases.  Along with Dr. Douglas D. Heckathorn of Cornell University, I developed an innovative recruitment model – called a “peer-driven intervention for accessing injection drug users (IDUs) and other hidden populations. The model has been demonstrated in many different cultural and political contexts to be remarkably powerful in enlisting the efforts of IDUs to work among their peers to prevent HIV and related diseases.  The model also became the basis upon which Douglas Heckathorn developed “Respondent-Driven Sampling,” a groundbreaking methodology in social science, public health and epidemiology.

I also conducted research into other innovative methods for combating diseases among drug users, including needle/syringe exchange intervention services, peer- or medically-supervised safer injection rooms, and a peer-based model for improving drug users’ adherence to HIV therapeutics.

All of my research has explored alternatives to the traditional “provider-client” model that dominates human-service institutions and industries.

Funded for over twenty-five years by the Open Society Institute, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Ford Foundation, Family Health International, the International HIV/AIDS Alliance, and, most especially, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), I developed and directed community demonstration projects in the U.S., Russia, Vietnam, China and Ukraine, and I received a five-year Independent Scientist (KO2) Award from NIDA (2005-2009).

I hold a special sense of gratitude to the University of Connecticut, Storrs for supporting my research and scholarly efforts over 30 years; to department heads, Wayne Villemez and Michael Wallace, who understood the special needs of researchers facing the excruciating scrutiny and criticism of NIH Scientific Review Groups, year after year; and to my true friend and colleague, Douglas Heckathorn, whose creativity, intellectual talent, sense of humor, and unwavering industriousness inspired me enormously.