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Faculty & Staff Directory

Karen Lutfey, Ph.D.


​​​Associate Professor & Director of the Undergraduate Major in Public Health

Email: Karen Lutfey​
Office Location: Administration Building 280H
Phone: (303) 556-4301
Fax: ​​(303) 556-8501 
Office hours: By appointment
Areas of Expertise: medical sociology, health policy, medical decision making, health disparities, qualitative and mixed methods

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

Prior to joining UCD in 2012, I was a Senior Research Scientist at New England Research Institutes (NERI) in Watertown, Massachusetts, where I directed the Center on Patient-Provider Relationships and the Center for Qualitative Research. My research is in the areas of medicine, health, and illness; health policy; clinical decision making; variations in medical practice; health disparities; and comorbid physical and mental illness. AT NERI I was PI on a NIMH-funded R01 study of sources of stigma in primary care decision making in co-occurring mental and physical illness. I was also Co-PI (with Dr. John McKinlay) on a recently completed NIH-funded study of cognitive bias in physician decision making in coronary heart disease (CHD) and a collaborator on related decision making studies of diabetes, CHD, and depression. Prior to joining NERI in 2005, I was faculty in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota. My work has appeared in, among other outlets, American Journal of Sociology, Social Psychology Quarterly, Social Science and Medicine, Sociology of Health and Illness, Medical Decision Making, Health Policy, and Health Services Research. I have taught courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels in medical sociology, social theory, social psychology, sociology of gender, and introduction to sociology. Currently, I am Director of the Undergraduate Major in Public Health and teaching courses in Capstone and Social Determinants of Health. 

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 and Freese. 2014. “The Fundamentals of Fundamental Causality.” Pp. 1050-56 In David B. Grusky (Ed.), Social Stratification: Class, Race, and Gender in Sociological Perspective, 4th Edition. Westview Press.

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

Chiu, Gretchen, Karen E. Lutfey, Heather J. Litman, Carol L. Link, Susan A. Hall, and John B. McKinlay. 2013.“Prevalence and Overlap of Childhood and Adult Physical, Sexual, and Emotional Abuse: A Descriptive Analysis of Results from the Boston Area Community Health (BACH) Survey.” Victims and Violence 28(3): 381-402.

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.

Lutfey, Karen E., Stephen C. Campbell, Lisa D. Marceau, Martin Roland, and John B. McKinlay. 2012. “Influences of organizational features of healthcare settings on clinical decision making: Qualitative results from a cross-national factorial experiment.” Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal for the Social Study of Health, Illness, and Medicine 16(1):40-56.

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.

Lutfey, Karen E., Carol L. Link, Richard W. Grant, Lisa D. Marceau, Ann Adams, Sara Arber, Johannes Siegrist, Markus Bönte, Olaf von dem Knesebeck, and John B. McKinlay, Ph.D. 2009. “Diagnostic certainty as a source of medical practice variation in coronary heart disease: Results from a cross-national experiment of clinical decision making.” Medical Decision Making 29(5): 606-18.

Lutfey, Karen E., Carol L. Link, Richard W. Grant, Lisa D. Marceau, and John B. McKinlay, Ph.D. 2009. “Is certainty more important than diagnosis for understanding race and gender disparities?:  An experiment using coronary heart disease and depression case vignettes.” Health Policy 89(3): 279-287.

Lutfey, Karen E., Stephen M. Campbell, Megan R. Renfrew, Lisa D. Marceau, Martin Roland, and John B. McKinlay. 2008. “How are patient characteristics relevant for physicians’ clinical decision making in diabetes?: An analysis of qualitative results from a cross-national factorial experiment.” Social Science and Medicine 67(9): 1391-1399.

Lutfey, Karen and Jeremy Freese.  2007. “Ambiguities of Chronic Illness Management and Challenges to the Medical Error Paradigm.” Social Science and Medicine 64: 314-25.

Lutfey, Karen and Jeremy Freese.  2005. “Toward Some Fundamentals of Fundamental Causality: Socioeconomic Status and Health in the Routine Clinic Visit for Diabetes.” American Journal of Sociology 110(5): 1326-72.​

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