Faculty Directory

Karen Bullock

Louise McMahon Ahearn Endowed Professor


Karen Bullock, PhD, LICSW, FGSA, APHSW-C, is the Louise McMahon Ahearn Endowed Professor in the Boston College School of Social Work and in Global Public Health. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Work (LICSW) with mental health practice experience and expertise in health disparities, health equity, serious illness care, aging and gerontology, hospice, palliative and end-of-life care decision making. She has served as Principal Investigator and/or Co-Investigator for over $5 million in federal grant funding focused on equity and inclusion for workforce development, aging, and health network sustainability.

Dr. Bullock is a John A. Hartford Faculty Scholar and has served on several national boards and committees, including the Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) as vice-chair and the American Cancer Society (ACS) Oncology Social Work Research Peer Review Committee, past chair. She is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Roundtable on Quality Care for People with Serious Illness, a board member of the Palliative Care Quality Collaborative (PCQ), Steering Committee member for the Duke University REACH Equity Center, affiliate faculty at the Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC), and has an appointment in the Department of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care at Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI).

Recent Publications

Bullock, K. (2024). Unprecedented challenges: Cancer care amid pandemics, disasters and other traumatic events. In Hedlund, S., Miller, B., Christ, G., & Messner, C. (Eds.), Handbook of oncology and palliative social work: Psychosocial care for people coping with cancer. (pp. 57-68). New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Rhodes, R. L., Barrett, N.J., Bullock, K., & Johnson, K. S. (2023). Response to Anandarajah G et al., Trust as a Central Factor in Hospice Enrollment Disparities Among Ethnic and Racial Minority Patients: A Qualitative Study of Interrelated and Compounding Factors Impacting Trust (DOI: 10.1089/jpm.2023.0090)." Journal of Palliative Medicine, 26(10), pp. 1315–1316. https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2023.0440

Bullock, K., & Bullock-Johnson, R. (2023). Cultural humility: Necessary but insufficient for equitable access to care. In Doka, K.J., Jennings, B., Kirk, T.W., & Tucci, A.S. (Eds.), End-of-Life Ethics in a Changing World (pp. 73-85). Washington, DC: Hospice Foundation of America Press.

Selected Publications

Wallace, C.L., Coccia, K., Khoo, Y.M., & Bullock. K. (2023). Meaning of Hospice Care: Perceptions of Patients and Families. American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Medicinedoi:10.1177/10499091221149702

Zehm, A., Smith, S., Schaefer, K. G., Jonas, D., Bullock, K., Edwards, R. L., Reville, B., Jaramillo, C., Webb, A. C., Rydberg, J., & Merel, S. E. (2023). Development of Objectives to Inform a National Standardized Primary Palliative Care Curriculum for Health Professions Students. Journal of Palliative Medicinehttps://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2022.0396

Silvers, A., Sinclair, S., Curseen, K., Chambers, B., Bullock, K., & Bowman, B. (2022). How Medicare advantage could address pain inequities for Black patients living with serious illness. Health Affairs Forefront10.1377/forefront.20221206.976112

Rhodes, R. L., Barrett, N. J., Ejem, D. B., Sloan, D. H., Bullock, K., Bethea, K., Durant, R. W., Anderson, G. T., Hasan, M., Travitz, G., Thompson, A., & Johnson, K. S. (2022). A Review of Race and Ethnicity in Hospice and Palliative Medicine Research: Representation Matters. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 64(5), e289–e299. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2022.07.009

Barrett, N.J., Bullock, K., & Johnson, K.S. (2022). Unmet Needs in Health Disparities Research—It’s Not Just About Patients. JAMA Internal Medicine, 182(9), 995–996. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.2877

Rhodes, R., Ejem, D., Barrett, N., Smith, C., Bullock, K., Bethea, K., Hasan, M., & Johnson, K. (2022). Association and causation without adequate representation: An evaluation of the reporting of race and ethnicity of study participants in hospice and palliative medicine research (GP751). Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 63(6), 1140https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2022.04.142

Bullock, K., Gray, T. F., Tucker, R., & Quest, T. E. (2022). Race Roundtable Series: Structural Racism in Palliative Care. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, S0885-3924(22)00038-0https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2022.01.015

Curseen, K., & Bullock, K. (2022). Response to Fitzgerald Jones et al., Top ten tips palliative care clinicians should know about delivering antiracist care to Black Americans. Journal of Palliative Medicinehttps://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/jpm.2021.0622

Bullock, K. & Makaroun, L.K. (2022). Drivers of racial/ethnic differences in perceived end‐of‐life care quality: More questions than answers. Journal of the American Geriatrics SocietyDOI: 10.1111/jgs.17663

Bullock-Johnson, R., & Bullock, K. (2022). Advance directives and the influence of cultural dynamics. In Altilio, T. & Otis-Green, S. (Eds.), Oxford textbook of palliative social work (pp. 580-587). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Jones, T., Nedjat-Haiem, F., & Bullock, K. (2022). Health equity in palliative care. In Altilio, T. & Otis-Green, S. (Eds.), Oxford textbook of palliative social work (pp. 14-25). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Maschi, T., Morgen, K., Bullock, K., Kaye, A., & Hintenach, A.M. (2021). Aging in prison and the social mirror: Reflections and insights on care and justice. Justice and Human Rights in Social Work, 1(2), 137-154. DOI: 10.18278/jep.1.2.6 

Cadet, T., Burke, S., Naseh, M., Grudzien, A., Kozak, R., Lupardus, J., Bullock, K, & Davis, C. (2021). Examining the family support role of older Hispanics, African Americans, and Non-Hispanic Whites and their breast cancer screening behaviors. Journal of Social Work in Public Health, 1(1), 1-16. DOI: 10.1080/19371918.2020.1852993

Starr, L.T., Bullock, K., Washington, K.T., Aryal,S., Parker-Oliver, D., & Demiris, G. (2021). Anxiety, depression, quality-of-life, caregiver burden, and perception of caregiver-centered community among Black and White hospice family caregivers. Journal of Palliative Medicine. https://doi.org/10.1089/jpm.2021.0302

Bullock-Johnson, R., & Bullock, K. (2020). Exploring mental health treatment and prevention among homeless older adults. London, England (UK): IntechOpen Access DOI: 10.5772/intechopen.89731

Selected Grants

Bullock, K. (Principal Investigator) & Stansbury, K.L. (Co-Investigator). Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training, funded by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Paraprofessional Track. Grant number M01HP312740100 – funded $1,191,882

Hall, J.K. (Principal Investigator) & Bullock, K. (Co-Investigator, Mentor). Behavioral Health Education Scholars Education and Training Initiative. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Grant number M01HP31322 – funded $1,914,957

Hall, J.K. (Principal Investigator) & Bullock, K. (Co-Investigator, Mentor). Behavioral Health Education Scholars Education and Training Initiative, funded by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration Grant number GO2HP27948 – funded $1,086,448

Pennell, J. (Principal Investigator) & Bullock, K. (Co-Investigator). Fostering Youth Educational Success, a grant under Child Welfare—Education System Collaborations. To increase educational suitability. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau – funded $248,988

Bullock, K. (Principal Investigator) & Hickey, E. (Co-PI). Healthy Aging: Mind & Body - To recruit & train racially diverse social work interns to work with older adults using an interdisciplinary, social work and psychiatry, community outreach model. North Central Area Agency on Aging – funded $375,000

Fried, T., MD (Principal Investigator) & Bullock, K. (Co-Investigator). Treatment Goals at End of Life. To investigate race as a factor in explaining end-of-life care decisions across racial groups. National Institutes of Health (NIH)/ Yale University – Diversity Supplement – funded $151,065

Bullock, K. (Principal Investigator). Preference for Utilization of Medical Treatment among African Americans. To examine factors influencing use of end-of-life treatment. John A. Hartford Foundation/ Gerontological Society of America – funded $100,000

Bullock, K. (Principal Investigator). Family Support and Mentoring Enrichment (FAME) Programs. To reduce and prevent juvenile delinquency among adjudicated youth in rural areas using family support, education and community programming, focused on grandparents raising grandchildren. Community Partnership with Truth in Youth Family Services of Leland, NC. Funded by the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice, Delinquency Prevention – funded $355,000

Selected Awards

2021: Gerontology Society of America (GSA) Fellow Award (FGSA).

2021: New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) Fellow Award. New York, NY.

2020: Alumni Distinguished Outstanding Graduate Faculty – Nominee, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, NC State University.

2020: Social Work Hospice & Palliative Care Network (SWHPN) Career Achievement Award for a national or international impact at least 15 years of advancing the development or improvement of psychosocial palliative care.

2012: Best Article Award, Routledge Journals, article published in the Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Caredoi: 10.1080/15524256.2011.548048.

Selected Appointments

2021-present: Center for Practical Bioethics Board of Directors, Member 

2019-present: NASW National Committee on Racial & Ethnic Diversity (NCORED), Chair 

2021-present: Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). Affiliate Faculty and Advisory Council Member. Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Website: CAPC Faculty Consultants

2020-present: National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM) Taskforce on Serious Illness Care.

2022-2023: North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) Taskforce on Healthy Aging.

2020-2022: North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) Serious Illness Care Taskforce.

2018-2022: National Association of Social Work Deans and Directors (NADD), Board of Directors, Treasurer

2007-2022: Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy. University of Connecticut, Affiliate Faculty. Website: University of Connecticut InCHIP

2020-2021: Social Work in Hospice & Palliative Care Network Board Member –Chair Elect

2019-2021: Fellow, University Global Partnership Network – Research curricular development on aging and social determinants of health with the University of Wollongong, Australia

2014-2020: American Cancer Society (ACS): Appointed to serve on the Peer Review Committee for Oncology Social Work Training Grants, Chair 2018-2020

2012-2013: Council on Social Work Education, Delegate. University of Havana, Cuba

2012-2013: Fellow, Leadership for a Diverse Campus – NSF ADVANCE Leadership Program


2018-present: Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare – Editorial Board

2007-present: Health & Social Work - Consulting Editor

2006-present: International Aging and Human Development – Editorial Board

2006-present: Journal of Aging & Health – Consulting Editor

2003-present: Journal of Social Work in End-of-Life & Palliative Care – Editorial Board, Practice Innovations – Section Editor, 2018- present