Karen Lutfey Spencer, PhD
Health and Behavioral Sciences

Office Location:
North Classroom 3025B

Office Hours:
by Appointment via Zoom

My research is on medical decision making, health disparities, patient-provider relationships, and patient adherence, studied from both qualitative and quantitative perspectives. I have examined these issues across various medical and psychiatric conditions such as diabetes, coronary heart disease, schizophrenia, and depression. My current work is focused on the social context of end-of-life decision making, including the ways in which healthcare systems, payers, providers, and social networks influence individuals’ engagement with healthcare systems.

For a recent overview, see: https://researchoutreach.org/tag/professor-karen-lutfey-spencer/

Postdoctoral, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholars in Health Policy Research, University of California Berkeley & San Francisco, 2002-2004
Ph.D., Sociology, Indiana University, 2000
M.A., Sociology, Indiana University, 1995
B.A., Sociology/Anthropology, Gustavus Adolphus College, 1993

Spencer, Karen Lutfey, Emily Hammad Mrig, and Ariana Kobra Talaie. 2020. “Does Palliative Care Utilization Facilitate Conversion to Hospice Care?  A Qualitative Study of the ‘Soft No.’” American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicine.1-6.

Spencer, Karen Lutfey. 2018. “Transforming Patient Compliance Research in an Era of Biomedicalization.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior. 59(2): 170-84.

Spencer, Karen Lutfey. 2018. “Policy Brief.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 59(2): 169.

Mrig, Emily Hammad and Karen Lutfey Spencer. 2018. “Political Economy of Hope as a Cultural Facet of Biomedicalization: A Qualitative Examination of Constraints to Hospice Utilization Among U.S. End-Stage Cancer Patients.” Social Science & Medicine 200: 107-113.

Spencer, Karen Lutfey, Emily Hammad Mrig, Elizabeth Kessler and Daniel Matlock. 2017. “A Qualitative Investigation of Cross-Domain Influences on Medical Decision Making and the Importance of Social Context for Understanding Barriers to Hospice Use.” Journal of Applied Social Science 11(1):48-59.

Spencer, Karen Lutfey. 2016. “What is the future of research on medical decision making? (And is it bright?): A response to Drewniak and colleagues" Social Science and Medicine 168:175-77.

Spencer, Karen Lutfey and Matthew Grace. 2016. "Social Foundations of Healthcare Inequality and Treatment Bias." Annual Review of Sociology 42: 101-120.

HBSC 7011: Theoretical Perspectives in Health and Behavioral Sciences I
HBSC 7111: Applications of the Health and Behavioral Sciences
PBHL 3051: Mental Illness & Society
PBHL 4040: Social Determinants of Health PBHL
PBHl 4099: Capstone Experience in Public Health​