Johnson, Karen, PhD

Assistant Professor
Contact Information Areas of Interest and Expertise
  • Homeless Women and Sexual Risk Behavior
  • Homelessness and Women
  • Mental Health
  • Poverty
  • Substance Abuse
  • Women’s Issues

Download Dr. Johnson's CV (pdf)


  • BA in English and African-American Studies, Syracuse University
  • MSW, Hunter College, New York, NY
  • PhD in Social Work Administration, Columbia University


Dr. Karen Andrene Johnson research interests focus on improving the lives of sheltered and undomiciled homeless women in rural and urban settings. Specifically, she examines how co-morbid risks, such as justice involvement, sexual risk behaviors, mental health and substance abuse, combine synergistically to contribute to homelessness among impoverished women. She also is interested in adapting interventions proven efficacious in “real world” practice settings specifically for this population to reduce initial and recurring homelessness and increase quality of life. Dr. Johnson is currently exploring cumulative risk factors that propel vulnerable and stigmatized women into homelessness. She has served as an associate research scientist and a co-investigator for a RO1 National Institute of Drug Abuse study with the primary aim of reducing sexual risk behavior among justice-involved women, 50 percent of whom had a current or recent history of homelessness during their involvement with the study. She currently serves as a co-investigator for a multi-site study (with Columbia University, Yale University and the University of Rochester) funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The primary aim of this study is to reduce sexual risk behavior among women recently released from jails and prisons. Dr. Johnson is also an New York State Office of Mental Health Policy Scholar, administered through Columbia University, and is in the process of implementing a qualitative study with formerly homeless women and practitioners in criminal justice, clinic and shelter settings.

Selected Publications:

Johnson, K., Gilbert, L., Hunt, T., Hunt, T., Wu, E., Metsch, L., Goddard-Eckrich, D., Richards, S., Tibbets, R., Rowe, J. Wainberg, M., El-Bassel, N. (in press). E-WORTH and Streamlined HIV Testing versus Streamlined HIV Testing alone in decreasing biologically confirmed STIs and increasing condom use among drug-involved Black women in the criminal justice system. Trials.

Hellman, L, Wainberg, ML, Mootz, J, Carlson, C, Johnson, K, Neria, Y. Women’s Mental Health Following Trauma as a Global Public Health Priority: A Review and Call for Action. The Lancet.

Wainberg ML, Scorza P, Shultz JM, Helpman L, Mootz JJ, Johnson KA, Neria Y, Bradford JE, Oquendo MA, Arbuckle MR. Challenges and Opportunities in Global Mental Health: a Research-to-Practice Perspective. Curr Psychiatry Rep. 2017 May;19(5):28. doi: 10.1007/s11920-017-0780-z. Review. PubMed PMID: 28425023.

El-Bassel N, Marotta PL, Shaw SA, Chang M, Ma X, GoddardEckrich D, Hunt T, Johnson K, Goodwin S, Almonte M, et al. Women in community corrections in New York City: HIV infection and risks. Int J STD AIDS. 2017 Feb;28(2):160-169. doi: 10.1177/0956462416633624. Epub 2016 Jul 10. PubMed PMID: 26887890; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5367917.

Nabila El-Bassel, Phillip L. Marotta, Dawn Goddard-Eckrich, Stacey Shaw Mingway, Chang, Xin Ma PhD, MS, Tim Hunt, Karen Johnson, Sharun Goodwin, BS,  Maria Almonte, MSW, and Louisa Gilbert PhD (2016). Women in community corrections in New York City: HIV infection and risks. Int J STD AIDS.

Gilbert, L, Goddard-Eckrich, D., Hunt T, Ma X, Chang M, Rowe J, McCrimmon T, Johnson K, Goodwin S, Almonte M, Shaw SA. Efficacy of a Computerized HIV and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Prevention intervention (WORTH) on reducing IPV among Substance-using Women in Community Corrections. Am J Public Health. 2016 Jul;106(7):1278-86. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2016.303119. Epub 2016 Apr 14.

Vijayaraghavan M, Tochterman A, Hsu E, Johnson K, Marcus S & Caton C (2012). Health, Access to Health Care, and Health Care use Among Homeless Women with a History of Intimate Partner Violence. Journal of Community Health.

Caton C, El Bassel N, Barrow S, Herman D, Hsu E, Zanger A & Johnson K. Rates of HIV and STI Infection Among Homeless Women. AIDS and Behavior: Volume 17, Issue 3 (2013), Page 856-864.


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