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 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.

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​