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Karen E. Steinhauser, PhD




Karen E. Steinhauser, PhD, is a Health Scientist with the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, VA Medical Center, in Durham, and is an Associate Research Professor, Department of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center and Senior Fellow with the Duke University Center for Aging.  She is a former VA Career Development Awardee.  Dr. Steinhauser received her doctoral training in sociology at Duke where she specialized in the study of medical sociology and aging.  Following her graduate training, she completed post-doctoral research in Health Services Research and Development at the Durham VA Medical Center.  Her research interests focus on identifying what patients, families and health care providers value at the end of life, measuring quality for patients and families at end of life and developing interventions to improve quality of life among patients and their caregivers during times of serious illness. 

She is Principal Investigator of a randomized controlled trial examining the impact of discussions of life completion on symptoms and quality of life in patients with advanced life limiting illness among veterans.  She is conducting similar research among veterans receiving care outside the VA and non veterans as part of a NINR sponsored center grant (NINR P01 – RFA – NR-08-001) Center for the Study of Self-Management in Life-Limiting Illness.  Finally, she participates in several ongoing studies using qualitative methods including those investigating physician patient communication, emergency department visits, low vision intervention, telehealth intervention, and caregiver bedside training.


  • 1987 BA Sociology/Anthropology Denison University, Granville, OH
  • 1992 MA Sociology Duke University, Durham, NC
  • 1996 PhD Sociology Duke University, Durham, NC
  • 1997 Post-Doc Health Services Research VA HSR&D, Durham, NC    


  • 1996-1997 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham VAMC,  Durham, NC
  • 1997-present Health Scientist, Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham VAMC, Durham, NC
  • 2000-2008 Assistant Research Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC
  • 2003-2006 VA HSR&D Career Development Awardee
  • 2008-present Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine, Duke University Medical Center

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View Dr. Steinhauser's Scholars at Duke page

View Dr. Steinhauser's PubMed Link to see her publications