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Karen Lincoln - USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work. Los Angeles, CA, US

Karen Lincoln Karen Lincoln

Associate Professor of Social Work | USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work


Dr. Lincoln's research focuses on stress, aging, and mental health disparities






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Karen D. Lincoln is an associate professor, director of the USC Hartford Center of Excellence in Geriatric Social Work, senior scientist at the USC Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, and founder and chair of Advocates for African American Elders at the University of Southern California.

Lincoln is an honors graduate from UC Berkeley, where she received a B.A. in Sociology with a minor in African American studies, and a graduate from the University of Michigan, where she earned an MSW, an M.A. in Sociology and a Ph.D. in Social Work and Sociology.

She has published more than 50 articles and book chapters in the areas of stress, aging and mental health disparities. Lincoln has been published in The New York Times and has contributed to articles published in The Washington Post, U.S. News & World Report, Los Angeles magazine and Los Angeles Daily News, and is a regular contributor to The Wall Street Journal. She has received more than $2 million in grant funding to support her research, which focuses on improving clinical and community-based treatment of African Americans with mental health disorders and chronic health conditions. She also contributes to a blog where she fuses social commentary with her vast knowledge of health and mental health of African American communities, disseminating information about how the Affordable Care Act will impact African Americans, sharing her inspiration for a “healthy black America,” and posing questions such as “Is being black bad for your health?”

Lincoln is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America and a Hartford faculty scholar. In 2014, she was ranked third among the most influential African American social work scholars in the United States.

To reference the work of Karen Lincoln online, we ask that you directly quote their work where possible and attribute it to "Karen Lincoln, a faculty at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work” (LINK: https://dworakpeck.usc.edu)

Education (4)

University of Michigan: Ph. D. 2002

University of Michigan: M. A. 1998

University of Michigan: M. S. W. 1996

University of California, Berkeley: B. A. 1992

Areas of Expertise (8)

Alzheimer Disease

Minority Health

Social Networks

African American Families

Social Work

Social Support

Stress and Coping


Industry Expertise (5)

Public Policy

Program Development


Elder Care


Accomplishments (4)

Encore Public Voices Fellow (professional)

One of 20 leaders in the inaugural cohort of this Encore.org fellowship, which provides support, skills and mentoring to ensure their ideas shape the greater public conversation, especially through the publication of opinion pieces. 2018-19

Grand Marshal, University of Southern California School of Social Work Commencement (professional)


Principal Investigator, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families and the Mathematica Policy Research Project (professional)

Marriage and Health in the African American Community, “Stress, Marital Satisfaction, and Mental Health Among African Americans.” 5/01/08-12/31/09. $10,000 (2008)

Scholar, National Institute of Mental Health, African American Mental Health Research Scientist Grant Workshop. Bethesda, Maryland (professional)



Media Appearances (5)

USC professors participate in LA homelessness research, census

Daily Trojan  


Professor Benjamin Henwood from the Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work led USC’s consulting role on the initiative after the University’s provost office launched an all-school initiative to end homelessness last summer. Henwood is a co-leader of the Grand Challenge to End Homelessness through the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare. He partnered with professors Robynn Cox and Karen Lincoln from the School of Social Work as well as professor Jennifer Ailshire from the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology, to make up the core team of consultants. Cox said the multifaceted nature of the team, which comprised faculty from four different departments, was key to their success...

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USC partners on countywide homeless count for the first time

USC News  


“The issue of addressing homelessness is incredibly complex,” said Associate Professor Karen Lincoln of the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work, who is leading the survey. “There’s not a simple solution. It will require multiple areas of expertise on how to address mental health needs, substance abuse needs, housing needs, health needs … From a policy perspective, we really need to be multidisciplinary.”...

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USC partners with government agencies on annual homeless count

USC News  


The survey hopes to fill gaps in data, reaching harder to find populations — such as youth, families and women, said Karen Lincoln, an associate professor at the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work...

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Statistics show that HIV/AIDS is not just a young person’s disease

USC News  


Karen Lincoln, associate professor at the USC School of Social Work, organized a Visions and Voices screening and discussion of Even Me at the USC School of Cinematic Arts that hopes to change perceptions...

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The economic argument for more aid to the elderly poor

The Wall Street Journal  


A rising tide lifts all boats. This idiom, typically referring to the economy, suggests that a good outcome will benefit all. There has been much debate about whether economic growth benefits the rich, middle class and poor, equally. But, what if the debate was framed differently? Can policies that benefit the poor also benefit those who are better off?...

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Research Articles & Publications (5)

Church-based social support and suicidality among African Americans and Black Caribbeans

Archives of Suicide Research

Linda M Chatters, Robert Joseph Taylor, Karen D Lincoln, Ann Nguyen, Sean Joe

2011 This study explores the relationship between church-based informal social support and lifetime prevalence of suicide ideation and attempts within a representative national sample of African American and Black Caribbean adults. Characteristics of church-based social support networks, as well as emotional support and negative interaction with church members were examined in relation to lifetime suicide ideation and attempts. This study used data from the National Survey of American Life (2001–2003)...

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Prevalence of lifetime DSM-IV affective disorders among older African Americans, Black Caribbeans, Latinos, Asians and Non-Hispanic White people

International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry

Amanda Toler Woodward, Robert Joseph Taylor, Kai McKeever Bullard, Maria P Aranda, Karen D Lincoln, Linda M Chatters

2011 The purpose of this study is to estimate lifetime prevalence of seven psychiatric affective disorders for older non-Hispanic White people, African Americans, Caribbean Black people, Latinos, and Asian Americans and examine demographic, socioeconomic, and immigration correlates of those disorders.

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Discrimination, attribution, and racial group identification: implications for psychological distress among black americans in the national survey of American life (2001–2003)

American Journal of Orthopsychiatry

David H Chae, Karen D Lincoln, James S Jackson

2011 There is increasing evidence that experiencing discrimination may contribute to poor mental health among Black Americans. However, few studies have distinguished between discrimination attributed to race versus other forms of discrimination or have compared differences in their psychological implications. Using nationally representative data on 5,191 Black Americans in the National Survey of American Life (NSAL; 2001–2003), this study examined serious psychological distress (SPD) in relation to discrimination attributed to racial versus nonracial causes and also investigated whether racial group identification may be a buffer...

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Religious coping among African Americans, Caribbean Blacks and Non‐Hispanic Whites

Journal of Community Psychology

Linda M Chatters, Robert Joseph Taylor, James S Jackson, Karen D Lincoln

2008 This study examined demographic predictors of attitudes regarding religious coping (ie, prayer during stressful times and look to God for support, strength and guidance) within a national sample of African Americans, Caribbean Blacks, and non-Hispanic Whites (National Survey of American Life). The findings demonstrate significant Black-White differences in attitudes regarding religious coping with higher endorsements of religious coping among African Americans and Black Caribbeans (Caribbean Blacks).

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Mental health services in faith communities: The role of clergy in black churches

Social Work

Robert Joseph Taylor, Christopher G Ellison, Linda M Chatters, Jeffrey S Levin, Karen D Lincoln

2000 A small but growing literature recognizes the varied roles that clergy play in identifying and addressing mental health needs in their congregations. Although the role of the clergy in mental health services delivery has not been studied extensively, a few investigations have attempted a systematic examination of this area. This article examines the research, highlighting available information with regard to the process by which mental health needs are identified and addressed by faith communities.

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