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GSSWGraduate School of Social Work

Karen Albright

Affiliated Faculty 

PhD, New York University 

Academic and Research Interests

  • Social inequalities and health disparities
  • Healthcare workplace culture and systems dynamics
  • Psychosocial effects of community trauma
  • Intergenerational transmission of socioeconomic status
  • Dissemination and implementation of social and clinical science


Karen Albright is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology & Criminology and Affiliated Faculty in the Graduate School of Social Work. Her research explores the intersection of social inequality and health. After earning a PhD in Sociology from New York University, Albright received postdoctoral training in social scientific health research as a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Scholar in Health Policy Research at the University of California, Berkeley, and as a National Institute of Mental Health Fellow at the Center for Culture and Health at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior.

Prior to joining the DU faculty, Albright spent several years at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus where she was an Assistant Professor in the Colorado School of Public Health’s Department of Community and Behavioral Health. She also directed the Qualitative Research Core in the Adult and Child Center for Health Outcomes Research and Delivery Science, a Center within the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Albright’s primary research interests focus on health behaviors among socioeconomically disadvantaged populations and on the barriers to their care. She is particularly interested in how disadvantaged populations interact with the U.S. health care system in both the private and public health domains.

Much of her work has been concerned with exploring not only individuals’ experiences with the health care system, but also potential solutions for improving care. Albright’s work also includes research on the transmission of socioeconomic status, which she has investigated through several studies of intergenerational family dynamics and education policies, and on the psychosocial and cultural consequences of community trauma, particularly the aftermath of September 11, 2001 in New York City and, more recently, hydraulic fracturing in Western Colorado.

Albright believes strongly in, and is actively engaged with, the dissemination and implementation of social scientific methods, theory and practice. She is the Vice President of the Association for Applied and Clinical Sociology, an international organization dedicated to advancing sociological application and practice both within and beyond academia. She also directs the Qualitative Research Methods Forum, an inter-institutional forum for health researchers in Colorado and beyond. She has extensive experience with a variety of qualitative research methods as well as expertise in mixed methodological research design, and has directed qualitative data collection and analysis on multiple implementation studies. Her favorite method of dissemination, however, is teaching. Albright’s courses at DU include Sociology of Health, Qualitative Research Methods, Understanding Social Life, and Class, Culture and the Media.