About Ellen O'Donnell, PhD

Ellen O'Donnell, PhD is a pediatric psychologist at the MassGeneral for Children Pediatric Diabetes Center and Director of Clinical Psychology Services at Shriners Hospital for Children, Boston. She is also an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. O'Donnell specializes in supporting pediatric patients and their families in coping with chronic illness and acute burn injuries. As part of the MassGeneral for Children Pediatric Behavioral Medicine Program, Dr. O'Donnell helped to develop an innovative multidisciplinary diabetes clinic where patients with Type 1 diabetes meet with multiple providers, including a psychologist, in one comprehensive visit. She also consults to diabetes organizations JDRF New England, ADA, The College Diabetes Network, and diabetes camps Clara Barton and Camp Joslin.

Dr. O'Donnell also specializes in neuropsychological assessment and in working with children and adolescents affected by both medical illness and developmental or learning disabilities. Her research interests include better understanding the impact of learning disabilities such as ADHD on the management of pediatric chronic illness. Dr. O'Donnell's work has been published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence and Multiple Sclerosis Journal. She has co-authored chapters on learning disabilities in pediatric populations and on a parent guidance model for parenting with chronic illness. She is also co-author of the parenting book Bless This Mess


Mass General Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
55 Fruit St.
Yawkey Center for Outpatient Care
Suite 6A
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: 617-724-5600

Medical Education

  • PhD, Clark University
  • Fellowship, Massachusetts General Hospital*****

Accepted Insurance Plans

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Dr. O'Donnell's research focuses on the intersection of psychology and medical illness. She has piloted studies of the impact of executive function weaknesses on adolescents’ adherence to diabetes care and a study of screening for depression in routine diabetes care. In her role with the Mass General Brigham Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Center, she was a co-investigator on local and national multi-site studies of the cognitive effects of pediatric onset multiple sclerosis. She is currently a co-investigator on a study of patient and family views in pediatric MS research needs, outcomes and methods. Much of Dr. O'Donnell's research has focused on the impact of parenting styles on children's motivation, cognitive style, and emotional well-being. She is particularly interested in the well-being and adjustment of children with executive function deficits like those associated with ADHD who are affected by pediatric or family illness. She is currently conducting research on the impact of problems with executive function on adolescents' adherence to diabetes self-care.


  • Braaten EB, O’Donnell E. (2010)  Neuropsychology and pediatrics, in A Practical Guide to Neuropsychological Testing for Patients, Practitioners, and Other Professionals edited by E Arzubi & E Mambrino.  NY, NY: Springer Publishing.

    O'Donnell, EH, Eddy, K., & Rauch, P. (2013) Parenting with chronic and life threatening illness: a parent guidance model, in Working with Families in Medical Settings: A Multidisciplinary Guide for Psychiatrists and Other Health Professionals edited by E Arzubi & E Mambrino. NY, NY: Springer Publishing.

    Baruch NF, O’Donnell EH, Glanz BI, Benedict RH, Musallam AJ, Healy BC, Rintel D, Chitnis, T. Cognitive and patient-reported outcomes in adults with pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Journal, 2016; 22(3), 354-361.

    Brady KJS, Grant GG, Stoddard FJ, Meyer WJ, Romanowski KS, Chang PH, Painting LE, Fowler LA, Nelson JK, Rivas P, Epperson K, Sheridan RL, Murphy M, O’Donnell EH, Ceranoglu TA, Sheldrick RC, Ni P, Slavin MD, Warner P, Palmieri TL, Schneider JC, Kazis LE, Ryan CM. Measuring the impact of burn injury on the parent-reported health outcomes of children 1 to 5 years: A conceptual framework for development of the preschool life impact burn recovery evaluation profile CAT. Journal of Burn Care Research January 2020; 41(1); 84-94.

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