Steve Koester

Steve Koester
Ph.D. • Professor Emeritus
Department of Anthropology

Please note that Dr. Koester has retired from the CU Denver Anthropology department and is only available by email if you have any questions.

Steve Koester began his career studying the effects of development projects on communities in the Caribbean, and then as a consultant on participatory resource management projects. He shifted my focus as the HIV/AIDS epidemic became too big to ignore and Federally funded research and intervention projects began to include anthropologists and sociologists as members of their research teams. His research has aimed to identify drug-related harms and uncover their causal pathways. He employs critical medical anthropology as his theoretical lens for examining the contextual dimensions of drug use – the multi-level, interrelated factors that influence drug related risks and their avoidance. This has led to the identification of previously unrecognized modes of disease transmission, and studies demonstrating how structural conditions exacerbate, and in fact produce drug related harms. Currently, he is working with colleagues on opioid overdose and conducting an on-going fieldwork-based project with homeless persons who inject drugs. The theme that ties these various projects together is my interest in extending our understanding of these phenomena by viewing them as processes and in context, an approach that emphasizes the lived experience and relies heavily on the use of qualitative research methods, including ethnography.

He has recently re-engaged with environmental anthropology and political ecology to design a course on climate change. It is fast becoming our most significant challenge and is likely to bring fundamental changes to our lives.

Ph.D.  Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder. May 1986

M.A.   Anthropology, University of Colorado, Boulder. 1976

B.A.    University of Denver / University of Colorado, Boulder. 1971

Mueller, S.R., Koester, S., Glanz, J.M., Gardner, E.M and Binswanger, I.A. Journal of General Internal Medicine. Attitudes toward Naloxone Prescribing in Clinical Settings: A Qualitative Study of Patients Prescribed High Dose Opioids for Chronic Non-Cancer Pain. In Press.

Al Tayibb, A.A., Koester, S and Riggs, P. Prescription opioids prior to injection drug use: Comparisons and public health implications. Addictive Behaviors 2016.

Frank, J.W., Levy, C.,  Matlock, D.D., Calcaterra, S.L., Mueller, S.R., Koester, S., Binswanger, I.A. Patients Perspectives on Tapering of Chronic Opioid Therapy: A Qualitative Study. Pain Medicine 2016; doi: 10.1093/pm/pnw078

Calcaterra, S., Schade-Drabkin, A., Leslie, S., Doyle, R., Koester, S., Frank, J.W., and Binswanger, I.A.  The Hospitalist Perspective on Opioid Prescribing: A Qualitative Analysis. Journal of Hospital Medicine. In Press

Langegger, S. and Koester, S.  Invisible homelessness: Anonymity, exposure and the right to the city. Urban Geography. Published on-line March 21, 2016:

Langegger, S. and Koester, S. “Moving on, finding shelter:” The spatiotemporal camp. Journal of International Sociology. In Press. 

Binswanger, I.A., Koester, S., Mueller, S.R., Gardner, E.M., Goddard, K. and Glanz, J.M.  Overdose Education and Naloxone for Patients Prescribed Opioids in Primary Care: A Qualitative Study.  Journal of General Internal Medicine.  

Al-Tayyib, A. A., Thiede, H., Burt, R. D., & Koester, S. Unmet Health Care Needs and Hepatitis C Infection Among Persons Who Inject Drugs in Denver and Seattle, 2009. Prevention Science. 2015: 1-11.

Keeley, R.D., Burke, B.L., Brody,D., Dimidjian, S, Engel, M., Emsermann, C., deGruy, F. Thomas, M., Moralez, E., Koester, S., and Kaplan. J. Training to Use Motivational Interviewing Techniques for Depression: A Cluster Randomized Trial.  Journal of the
American Board of Family Medicine. September-October 2014: 27 (5).

Benotsch, E.G., Koester, S., Martin, A.M., Cejka, A., and Luckman, Intentional misuse of over-the counter medications, mental health, and polysubstance use in young adults. Journal of Community Health. 2014:39 (4) 1-8.  

Benotsch, E.G., Martin, A.M., Koester, S., Mason, M.J., Jeffers, A.J., & Snipes, D.J. Driving under the influence of prescription drugs used non-medically:  Associations in a young adult sample. Substance Abuse. 2013.

Benotsch, E.G., Jeffers, A.J., Snipes, D.J., Martin, A.M., & Koester, S. (2013). The five factor model of personality and the non-medical use of prescription drugs:  Associations in a young adult sample. Personality and Individual Differences. 2013 55: 852-855

Miech, RA, London, AS, Wilmouth, JM and Koester, S. The Effects of the Military’s Anti-Drug Policies over the life course: The case of past year hallucinogen use. Substance Use and Misuse. 2013:48 (10) 837-853.

Jeffers, A.J., Benotsch, E.G., & Koester, S.  Misuse of prescription stimulants for weight loss, psychosocial variables, and eating disordered behaviors. Appetite 2013:65 8 – 13.

Koester, S.  Commentary on Harris and Rhodes: Discouraging syringe re-use by addressing drug injectors’ everyday suffering.  Addiction. 2012:107(6) 1097–1098.

Benotsch, E.G., Perschbacher Lance, S., Neetles, C.D. and Koester, S. Attitudes towards Methamphetamine Use and HIV risk behavior in men who have sex with men. The American Journal of the Addictions 2012:21 (s1) S35-S42. 

Miech R and Koester S. Trends in U.S., Past-Year Marijuana Use from 1985-2009;
An age-period-cohort Analysis. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2012:124(3) 259-267.

Miech R, Koester S and Dorsey B. The Increasing U.S. Mortality Rate Due to Accidental Poisoning: The Role of the Baby Boom Cohort. Addiction. 2011:106(4) 806-815.

Al-Tayyib, A and Koester, S. Injection drug users' experience with and attitudes towards methadone clinics in Denver, Colorado.  Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment. 2011:41 30-36.

Benotsch EG, Koester S, Luckman D, Martin AM, and Cejka A.  The Nonmedical Use of Prescription Drugs and Sexual Risk Behavior in Young Adults. Addictive Behaviors. 2011:36(1-2)152-155.

Benotsch EG,  Martin AM, 1Koester S,  Cejka A, and Luckman D.  Non-medical use of prescription drugs and HIV risk behavior in gay and bisexual men.  Sexually Transmitted Diseases. 2011:38(2)105-110.

Koester S. The Disconnect between China’s Public Health and Public Security Responses to Injection Drug Use, and the Consequences for Human Rights. PLos Medicine 2008: 5(12):e240.

Koester S, Glanz J and Baron A.  Drug Sharing Among Heroin Networks: Implications for HIV and Hepatitis B and C Prevention. AIDS & Behavior. 2005:9(1)27-39.

Burris S, Donogoe M, Sherman S, Blankenship K, Vernick J, Case P, Lazzarini Z and Koester S.  Addressing the Risk Environment for Injection Drug Users: The Case of the Missing Cop. Milbank Quarterly. 2004:82(1) 125-56.  

Koester S, Heimer R, Baron A, Glanz J and Wei M. Sharing Cookers and Cottons are Surrogates for Drug Sharing. Letter. American Journal of Epidemiology. 2003; 157(4)357.

Koester S, Bush T and Lewis B. Limited Access to Syringes for Injection Drug Users in Pharmacies in Denver, Colorado. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. 2002; 42(6) Suppl.2: S88-91.

Lewis B, Koester S and Bush T. Pharmacists’ Attitudes and Concerns Regarding Syringe sales to Injection Drug Users. Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association. 2002; 42(6) Suppl.2: S46-S51.

Blankenship K and Koester S. Criminal Law, Policing Policy, and HIV Risks in Street Workers and Injection Drug Users. Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics. 2002; 30(4): 548-559.

Sandersen H and Koester S. Co-Management of Tropical Coastal Zones: The Case of the Soufriere Marine Management Area, St. Lucia, WI. Coastal Management 2000; 28 (1):85-95.

Qualitative Research Methods, The Global AIDS Pandemic, Medical Anthropology, Applied Anthropology, Development and Conservation, Political Economy of Drugs, Anthropological Theory, Cultural Diversity, Contemporary World Problems, Cultures of Latin America and the Caribbean, Cultural Ecology and Resource Management, Introductory courses in Cultural Anthropology.