Nancy E. Adler, PhD

Nancy Adler, PhDPhD, Harvard University
Professor of Medical Psychology
Director, Center for Health and Community
Vice-Chair, Department of Psychiatry
Chair, MacArthur Network on Socioeconomic Status & Health
Director, Postdoctoral Fellowship "Psychology and Medicine:  Translational Research on Stress, Behavior and Disease"

Phone: (415) 476-7759
Fax: (415) 476-7744
E-mail: [email protected]

UCSF Profiles

John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Research Network on Socioeconomic Status & Health
Center for Health and Community
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholars Program

Research Interests:

My research spans two areas. One focuses on health behaviors, investigating why individuals engage in health-damaging behaviors and how their understanding of risk affects their choices. This research has primarily been in reproductive health, examining adolescent decision-making regarding contraception, conscious and preconscious motivation for pregnancy, perceptions of risk of sexually transmitted diseases, and use reproductive technologies for infertility.

My second area of work is on the impact of socioeconomic status (SES) on health and the role of psychosocial mediators. As Chair of the MacArthur Foundation Network on SES and Health, my interests span levels of analysis to examine:  (1) how social, psychological and biological factors associated with SES act together to determine the onset and progression of disease, and (2) how the relationship of SES and health may differ depending on gender and ethnicity. I have been testing a measure of subjective social status (the MacArthur “ladder”), which is designed to capture an individual’s global sense of their status. One version of the “ladder” assesses standing on traditional SES indicators while another assesses standing in one’s community. Both are showing strong associations with health outcomes across a range of populations.

Professional Honors and Awards:

  • APA Newman-Proshansky Award, Division 34
  • APA CSES Distinguished Leadership Award, Committee on Socioeconomic Status
  • David Rall Medal, Institute of Medicine
  • APA Distinguished Scientific Award for the Application of Society
  • UCSF Lifetime Achievement in Mentoring Award
  • Elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences
  • The Lisa and John Pritzker Endowed Chair
  • Lloyd Holly Smith Award for Exceptional Service, UCSF School of Medicine

Selected Publications:

  1. Fernald LCH, Adler NE. (2008). Blood pressure and socio-economic status in low-income women in Mexico: a reverse gradient? Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.
  2. Adler NE, Singh-Manoux A, Schwartz J, Stewart J, Matthews K, Marmot MG. (2008). Social status and health: A comparison of British civil servants in Whitehall II with European- and African-Americans in CARDIA. Social Science & Medicine, 66, 1034-1045.
  3. Adler NE, Rehkopf DH. (2008). U.S. Disparities in health: Descriptions, causes, and mechanisms. Annual Review of Public Health, 29, 235-252.
  4. Goodman E, Huang B, Schafer-Kalkhoff T, Adler NE. (2007). Perceived socioeconomic status: A new type of identity which influences adolescents' self rated health. Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 479-487.
  5. Singh-Manoux A, Marmot MG, Adler NE. (2005). Does subjective social status predict health and change in health status better than objective status? Psychosomatic Medicine, 67, 855-861.
  6. Adler NE. (2004). Rigor and vigor: Spanning basic and applied research.  In AH Eagly, RM Baron, VL Hamilton (Eds.), The social psychology of group identity and conflict: Theory, application, and practice (pp. 83-96). Washington, DC: APA Books.
  7. Park CL, Adler NE. (2003). Coping style as a predictor of health and well-being across the first year of medical school. Health Psychology, 22(6), 627-631.
  8. Adler NE,  Snibbe AC. (2003) The role of psychosocial processes in explaining the gradient between socioeconomic status and health. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 12(4), 119-123.
  9. Goodman E, Adler NE, Daniels SR, Morrison JA, Slap GB, Dolan LM. (2003). Impact of objective and subjective social status on obesity in a biracial cohort of adolescents. Obesity Research, 11, 1018-1026.
  10. Adler NE, Ozer E, Tschann J. (2003). Abortion among adolescents. American Psychologist, 58(3), 211-217.
  11. Milstein A, Adler NE. (2003). Out of sight, out of mind: Why doesn’t widespread clinical quality failure command our urgent attention? Health Affairs, 22(2), 119-127.
  12. Moore PJ, Adler NE, Williams DR, Jackson JS. (2002). Socioeconomic status and health: The role of sleep. Psychosomatic Medicine, 64, 337-344.
  13. Adler NE, Newman K. (2002). Socioeconomic disparities in health: Pathways and policies. Health Affairs, 21(2), 60-76.
  14. Adler NE, Epel E, Castellazzo G, Ickovics J. (2000). Relationship of subjective and objective social status with psychological and physiological functioning: Preliminary data in healthy white women. Health Psychology, 19(6), 586-592.
  15. Adler NE, Boyce T, Chesney M, Cohen S, Folkman S, Kahn R, Syme SL. (1994). Socioeconomic status and health: The challenge of the gradient. American Psychologist, 49, 15-24.
  16. Adler NE, Matthews K. (1994). Health psychology: Why do some people get sick and some stay well? Annual Review of Psychology, 45, 229-59.