Karen Lutfey Spencer, PhD
Health and Behavioral Sciences

Office Location:
North Classroom 3025B

Office Hours:
Monday and Wednesdays 2p to 3p or by Appointment

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

My research is on clinical decision making, patient-provider relationships, patient adherence, and health disparities, 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 hospice decision making trajectories and the ways in which healthcare systems, providers, and families influence utilization patterns; HBS graduate student Emily Hammad Mrig has collaborated with me on the latter.

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

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

Tritter, Jonathan Q., Karen Lutfey, and John B. McKinlay. 2014. "What are tests for? The Implications of Stuttering Steps along the US Patient Pathway." Social Science and Medicine 107:37-43.​ 

Lutfey, Karen E. 2013. "Evaluating sources and implications of doctor bias." Medical Education 47: 752-9.

Lutfey, Karen E., Eric Gerstenberger, and John B. McKinlay. 2013. "Physician Styles of Patient Management as a Source of Disparities: Cluster Analyses from a Factorial Experiment." Health Services Research 48(3): 1116-34.

Welch, Lisa C., Karen E. Lutfey, Eric Gerstenberger, and Matthew Grace. 2012. "Gendered Uncertainty and Variation in Physicians' Decisions for Coronary Heart Disease: The Double-Edged Sword of 'Atypical Symptoms'." Journal of Health and Social Behavior 53(3): 313-28.​

Karen E. Lutfey. 2011. "Fundamental Causality: Challenges of an Animating Concept for Medical Sociology." Pp.67-81 in B. Pescosolido, J. Martin, J. McLeod, and A. Rogers (Eds.), Handbook of Medical Sociology. New York: Springer.

Boyer, Carol A. and Karen E. Lutfey. 2010. "Examining Critical Health Policy Issues Within and Beyond the Clinical Encounter: Patient/Provider Relationships and Help-Seeking Behaviors." Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51: Suppl S80-93.

Lutfey, Karen E., Kevin W. Eva, Eric Gerstenberger, Carol L. Link, and John B. McKinlay. 2010. "Physician Cognitive Processing as a Source of Diagnostic and Treatment Disparities in Coronary Heart Disease: Results of a Factorial Priming Experiment." Journal of Health and Social Behavior 51(1):16-29.

Lutfey, Karen E. and John B. McKinlay. 2009. "What Happens Along the Diagnostic Pathway to CHD Treatment? Qualitative Results Concerning Cognitive Processes." Sociology of Health and Illness 31(7): 1077-92.

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​