Research Topics

Social determinants of health, Population health, Social capital, Social networks, Neighborhoods and place-based communities, Measurement of community social contexts

Research Interests

Here is a brief UBC video about some of my research: YouTube Preview Image

I am a medical sociologist with related training and interests in public and population health, community sociology and research methods (including measurement and research design). My primary interests center on how social conditions contribute to the physical and mental health of adults, children, and the communities in which they live.  I have related interests in social capital, social networks, theory-building in population health, social constructions of illness and risk, the measurement of community social environments, research design and methods, and the application of mixed methods to health research.

I pursue these interests through a research program of solo and collaborative projects focused on an extensive range of health outcomes and populations, spanning the life course and domestic and international contexts (primarily Canada and the US, but other international locations as well).  Some examples from past and current projects include early child development, child undernutrition in India, childhood asthma, adolescent HPV vaccination, smoking and alcohol use among adults, BMI among adult Danish women, substance use and sexual risk among urban gay men, suicide ideation among Canadian immigrants, fruit and vegetable intake among older adults, and life expectancy/mortality risk among high status individuals (Emmy-nominated actors, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame-nominated players, and US Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates).  Most recently, I have developed a related arm of my research program that includes several studies investigating social and behavioral factors underlying child vaccination uptake and coverage (and refusal or delay) in the US and Canada.

My research activities are often interdisciplinary in orientation, involving collaborations with Canadian and international researchers from fields such as psychology, geography, epidemiology, anthropology, public health, dentistry, and medicine.  I was a Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin from 2004-2006.  Currently, I am a Faculty Affiliate of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at UBC, Faculty Associate of the Human Early Learning Partnership (HELP), Associate Member of the UBC School of Population and Public Health, and an Affiliate Investigator at the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute.  Given my background and research foci, I have a keen interest in building interdisciplinary dialogue.  In 2010, with the support of colleagues throughout campus, I received funding from Green College at UBC for the Population Health Lecture Series.  This forum, which ran until 2014, featured domestic and international scholars presenting research on a broad selection of substantive, theoretical, and methodological issues.

Research Awards

Killam Research Fellowship for “faculty to pursue full-time research during a recognized study leave,” University of British Columbia, 2015

Killam Research Prize for “outstanding research and scholarly contributions,” University of British Columbia, 2014

Early Career Scholar and Faculty Associate, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia, 2008

New Investigator Award, Canadian Institutes for Health Research, 2010-2015

Career Scholar Award, Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, 2007-2013

Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentoring and Supervision

(NOTE: Primary supervisor unless noted otherwise)

Current Mentoring

Ryan Stillwagon (PhD student, Department of Sociology).

Arwa Gazzaz (PhD student, Faculty of Dentistry; Supervisor: Mario Brondani).

Nicole Malette (PhD candidate, Department of Sociology; Supervisor: Neil Guppy).

Andrea N. Polonijo (PhD Candidate, Department of Sociology). Dissertation: Socioeconomic and Racial-Ethnic Inequalities in Human Papillomavirus Vaccination: Empirically Testing Fundamental Cause, Health Lifestyle, and Altruism Mechanisms of Health Disparities.

Basia Pakula (PhD Candidate, School of Population and Public Health; Supervisor: Jean Shoveller). Dissertation: Sexual Orientation, Mood Disorders, and Mental Health Service Utilization in Canada.

Emily J. Rugel (PhD Candidate, School of Population and Public Health; Supervisor: Michael Brauer). Dissertation: Defining Equitable Access to Natural Space as a Mental Health-Promoting Urban Resource.

Recent Graduate and Postdoctoral Mentoring


Stephen W. Pan (PhD in Population and Public Health; Supervisor: Patricia Spittal). Dissertation: Sociocultural HIV Vulnerabilities among Ethnic and Religious Minority Men who have Sex with Men in North China.


Alyn Turner-McCarty (PhD in Sociology, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Supervisor: Adam Gamoran). Dissertation: Parent Social Networks, Mental Health, and Educational Disadvantage of Children in Poverty. Current Position: Health Disparities Research Scholar, Center for Women’s Health and Health Disparities Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Eamonn Rogers (Family Practice Resident, UBC Faculty of Medicine). Residency Research Project: “Getting By with a Little Help from My Friends (and Colleagues): Testing the Roles of Social Support and Loneliness for Burnout among Medical Residents.” Winner of the 2014 Providence Health Care Department of Family and Community Medicine Resident Research Award.


Lorinda Moore (MA in Sociology). Thesis: Adolescent sexual behaviors and neighborhood context: What are the roles of intergenerational closure and social capital? First position after graduation: Site Services Coordinator, Communities in Schools, Concord, North Carolina.

Adam Easterbrook (PhD in Sociology; Supervisor: Rima Wilkes). Dissertation: Masculinity, Sexual Identity, and the Life Experiences of American Adolescent Men. First position post-PhD: Research Coordinator, Inclusive Campus Project, Department of Occupation Science and Occupational Therapy, UBC.

Perry Hystad (PhD in Population and Public Health; Supervisors: Michael Brauer and Paul Demers). Dissertation: Spatial Assessment of Environmental Risks Factors for Lung Cancer in Canada: The Role of Air Pollution, Radon and Neighborhood Socioeconomic Deprivation. First position post-PhD: Assistant Professor, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University.


Lisa M. Fitterer (MA in Sociology). Thesis: Form and its Health Functions: Socioeconomic Status-Based Network Homophily and the Personal Health of Canadians. First position after graduation: Evaluation Specialist, ImpactBC, Vancouver, British Columbia.


NOTE: Underlined names indicate student/trainee co-authors

Carpiano, Richard M. & Fitz, Nicholas S. (2017). Public Attitudes toward Child Undervaccination:  A Randomized Experiment on Evaluations, Stigmatizing Orientations, and Support for Policies. Social Science & Medicine. (Published online ahead of press May 6, 2017).

Story, William T. & Carpiano, Richard M. (2017). Household Social Capital and Socioeconomic Inequalities in Child Undernutrition in Rural India: Exploring Organizational and Institutional Ties. Social Science & Medicine, 181, 112-121.

Carpiano, Richard M. & Bettinger, Julie A. (2016). Vaccine Coverage for Kindergarteners: Factors Associated with School and Area Variation in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vaccine Reports, 6, 50-55.

Saegert, Susan & Carpiano, Richard M. (2017). Social Support and Social Capital: A Theoretical Synthesis using Community Psychology and Community Sociology Approaches. In Meg A. Bond, Christopher Keys, & Irma Serrano-García (Eds.), American Psychological Association Handbook of Community Psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Rogers, Eamonn, Polonijo, Andrea, & Carpiano, Richard M. (2016). Getting By with a Little Help from My Friends (and Colleagues): Testing the Roles of Social Support and Loneliness for Burnout among Medical Residents. Canadian Family Physician, 62(11), e677-e683.

Pan, Stephen W., Li, Dongliang, Carpiano, Richard M., Spittal, Patricia M., & Ruan, Yuhua. (2016). Ethnicity and HIV Epidemiology Research in China (Research Letter). The Lancet, 388(10049), 1052-1053.

Polonijo, Andrea N., Carpiano, Richard M., Reiter, Paul, & Brewer, Noel T. (2016). Socioeconomic and Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Altruistic Attitudes toward Health Interventions: The Case of Human Papillomavirus Vaccination for Adolescent Boys. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 57(3), 390-406.

Pan, Stephen W., Zhang, Zheng, Li, Dongliang, Carpiano, Richard M., Schechter, Martin T., Ruan, Yuhua, & Spittal, Patricia M. (2016). Religion and HIV Sexual Risk among Men who have Sex with Men in China. The Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes (published online ahead of press July 6, 2016).

Pakula, Basia, Carpiano, Richard M., Ratner, Pamela, & Shoveller, Jeannie. (2016). Life Stress as a Mediator and Community Belonging as a Moderator of Mood and Anxiety Disorders of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Canadians. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 51(8), 1181-1192.

Pakula, Basia, Shoveller, Jeannie, Carpiano, Richard M., & Ratner, Pamela. (2016). Disaggregated Rates of Mood Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Heavy Drinking of Self-Identified Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Canadians. American Journal of Public Health 106(6), 1042-1048.

Rugel, Emily & Carpiano, Richard M. (2015). Gender Differences in the Roles for Social Support in Ensuring Adequate Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Older Adult Canadians. Appetite, 92(1), 102-109.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2014). The Community and Mental Life: Past, Present, and Future Directions. In Robert J. Johnson, R. Jay Turner, & Bruce G. Link (Eds.), Sociology of Mental Health: Selected Topics from Forty Years 1970s-2010s (pp. 101-123). New York: Springer-Verlag.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2014). When Should One (Dis)Trust Trust Measures? Response to Lindström and Sawada. Social Science & Medicine, 116, 239-240.

Carpiano, Richard M. & Fitterer, Lisa M. (2014). Questions of Trust in Health Research on Social Capital: What Aspects of Personal Network Social Capital Do They Measure? Social Science & Medicine, 116, 225-234.

Christensen, Vibeke T. & Carpiano, Richard M. (2014). Social Class Differences in BMI among Danish Women: Applying Cockerham’s Health Lifestyles Approach and Bourdieu’s Theory of Lifestyle. Social Science & Medicine, 112, 12-21.

Kelly, Brian C., Carpiano, Richard M., Easterbrook, Adam, & Parsons, Jeffrey T. (2014). Exploring the Gay Community Question: Neighborhood and Personal Network Influences on the Experience of Community among Urban Gay Men. The Sociological Quarterly, 55(1), 23-48.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2014). Neighborhood Disadvantage and Well-Being. In William C. Cockerham, Robert Dingwall, & Stella Quah (Eds.), The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society. (pp. 1673-1678). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell.

Easterbrook, Adam, Carpiano, Richard M., Kelly, Brian C., & Parsons, Jeffrey T. (2014). The Personal Experience of Community among Urban Gay Men, Lesbians, and Bisexuals: Melting Pot or Mosaic? Social Science Quarterly, 95(3), 682-700.

Hystad, Perry, Demers, Paul A., Johnson, Kenneth C., Carpiano, Richard M., & Brauer, Michael. (2014). Residential Air Pollution and Lung Cancer. Authors’ Response to Sax and Goodman regarding Hystad et al. “Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Lung Cancer Risk:  A Population-based Case-Control Study in Canada.” Epidemiology, 25(1), 159-160.

Hystad, Perry, Carpiano, Richard M., Demers, Paul A., Johnson, Kenneth C., & Brauer, Michael. (2013). Neighbourhood Socioeconomic Status and Individual Lung Cancer Risk: Evaluating Long-term Exposure Measures and Mediating Mechanisms. Social Science & Medicine, 97, 95-103.

Lloyd, Jennifer E.V., Obradović, Jelena, Carpiano, Richard M., & Motti-Stefanidi, Frosso. (2013). Multiple Imputation of Missing Multilevel, Longitudinal Data: A Case when Practical Considerations Trump “Best Practises”? Journal of Modern Applied Statistical Methods, 12(1), 261-275.

Hystad, Perry, Demers, Paul A., Johnson, Kenneth C., Carpiano, Richard M., & Brauer, Michael. (2013). Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Lung Cancer Risk:  A Population-based Case-Control Study in Canada. Epidemiology, 24(5), 762-772.

Link, Bruce G., Carpiano, Richard M., & Weden, Margaret M. (2013). Can Honorific Awards Give Us Clues about the Connection between Socioeconomic Status and Mortality? American Sociological Review, 78, 192-212.

Chi, Donald T. & Carpiano, Richard M. (2013). Neighborhood Social Capital, Neighborhood Attachment, and Dental Care Use for L.A.FANS Adults: A Multilevel Analysis. American Journal of Public Health, 103(4), e88-e95.

Polonijo, Andrea & Carpiano, Richard M. (2013). Social Inequalities in HPV Vaccination: A Test of Fundamental Cause Theory. Social Science & Medicine, 82, 115-125.

Pan, Stephen & Carpiano, Richard M. (2013). Immigrant Density, Sense of Community Belonging, and Suicidal Ideation among White and Racial Minority Immigrants in Canada. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, 15(1), 34-42.

Carpiano, Richard M. & Kimbro, Rachel T. (2012). Neighborhood Social Capital, Parenting Strain, and Personal Mastery among Female Primary Caregivers of Children. Journal of Health & Social Behavior, 53(2), 232-247.

Kelly, Brian C., Carpiano, Richard M., Easterbrook, Adam, & Parsons, Jeffrey T. (2012). Sex and the Community: Examining the Implications of Neighborhood and Social Networks for Sexual Risk Behaviors among Urban Gay Men. Sociology of Health & Illness, 34(7), 1085-1102.

Hystad, Perry & Carpiano, Richard M. (2012). Sense of Community Belonging and Health Behavior Change in Canada. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 66, 277-283. NOTE: Published on-line ahead of press in 2010.

Black, Jennifer, Carpiano, Richard M., Fleming, Stuart, & Lauster, Nathanael. (2011). Exploring the Distribution of Food Stores in British Columbia: Associations with Neighbourhood Socio-Demographic Factors and Urban Form. Health & Place, 17(4), 961-970.

Carpiano, Richard M., Kelly, Brian C., Easterbrook, Adam, & Parsons, Jeffrey T. (2011). Community and Drug Use among Gay Men: The Role of Neighborhoods and Networks. Journal of Health & Social Behavior, 52(1), 74-90.

Carpiano, Richard M. & Hystad, Perry. (2011). “Sense of Community Belonging” in Health Surveys: What Social Capital is it Measuring? Health & Place, 17(2), 606-617.

Carpiano, Richard M., Lloyd, Jennifer E.V., & Hertzman, Clyde. (2009). Concentrated Affluence, Concentrated Disadvantage, and Children’s Readiness for School: A Population-Based, Multi-Level Investigation. Social Science & Medicine, 69(3), 420-432.

Dennis, Jr., Samuel, Gaulocher, Suzanne, Carpiano, Richard M., & Brown, David. (2009). Using Participatory Photo Mapping (PPM) with Young People in Health Promotion Research. Health & Place, 15(2), 466-473.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2009). Come Take a Walk with Me: The “Go-Along” Interview as a Novel Method for Studying the Implications of Place for Health and Well-Being. Health & Place, 15(1), 263-272.

Polonijo, Andrea & Carpiano, Richard M. (2008). Representations of Cosmetic Surgery and Emotion Health in Women’s Magazines in Canada. Women’s Health Issues, 18(6), 463-470. Erratum published in Women’s Health Issues, 19(2), 157-158.

Carpiano, Richard M., Link, Bruce G., & Phelan, Jo C. (2008). Social Inequality and Health: Future Directions for the Fundamental Cause Explanation for Class Differences in Health. In Annette Lareau and Dalton Conley (Eds.), Social Class: How Does It Work? (pp. 232-263). New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2008). Actual or Potential Neighborhood Resources and Access to Them: Testing Hypotheses of Social Capital for the Health of Female Caregivers. Social Science & Medicine, 67(4), 568-582.

Weden, Margaret M., Carpiano, Richard M., & Robert, Stephanie A. (2008). Subjective and Objective Neighborhood Characteristics and Adult Health. Social Science & Medicine, 66(6), 1256-1270.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2007). Actual or Potential Neighborhood Resources for Health: What Can Bourdieu Offer for Improving Understandings of Social Capital Mechanisms for Health? In Ichiro Kawachi, S.V., Subramanian, & Daniel Kim (Eds.), Social Capital and Health (pp. 83-93). New York: Springer.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2007). Neighborhood Social Capital and Adult Health: An Empirical Test of a Bourdieu-based Model. Health & Place, 13(3), 639-655.

Kuppin, Sara A. & Carpiano, Richard M. (2006). Public Conceptions of Serious Mental Illness and Substance Abuse, Their Causes and Treatments: Findings from the 1996 General Social Survey. American Journal of Public Health, 96(10), 1766-1771.

*Reprinted in American Journal of Public Health, 98(Supplement 9), S120-S125.

Carpiano, Richard M. & Daley, Dorothy M. (2006). Theory-Building on the High Seas of Population Health: Love Boat, Mutiny on the Bounty, or Poseidon Adventure? (Response to commentaries by Popay, Vågero, and Dunn). Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 60(7), 571-577.

Carpiano, Richard M. & Daley, Dorothy M. (2006). A Guide and Glossary on Post-Positivist Theory-Building for Population Health. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 60(7), 564-570.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2006). Towards a Neighborhood Resource-based Theory of Social Capital for Health: Can Bourdieu and Sociology Help? Social Science & Medicine, 62(1), 165-175.

Carpiano, Richard M., & Kelly, Brian C. (2005). What Would Durkheim Do? A Comment on Kushner and Sterk’s “The Limits of Social Capital: Durkheim, Suicide, and Social Cohesion.” American Journal of Public Health, 95(12), 2120-2121.

Carpiano, Richard M., Flocke, Susan A., Frank, Scott H., & Stange, Kurt C. (2003). Tools, Teamwork, and Tenacity: An Investigation of the Influences of Family Practice Office System Characteristics on the Delivery of Preventive Health Services. Preventive Medicine, 36(2), 131-140.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2002). Long Roads and Tall Mountains: The Impact of Motherhood on the Recovery and Health of Domestic Abuse Survivors. Health Care for Women International, 23(5), 442-449.

Carpiano, Richard M. (2001). Passive Medicalization: The Case of Viagra and Erectile Dysfunction. Sociological Spectrum, 21(3), 441-450.

*Reprinted in Naugler, Diane. (2012). Canadian Perspectives in Sexualities Studies: Identities, Experiences, and the Contexts of Change. New York: Oxford University Press.

Winter 2017

SOCI479A Social Determinants of Health - DETERMNTS HEALTH Sections

Relationships between social phenomena (e.g., personal beliefs, lifestyle practices, social support, socio-economic status, social class, gender, and ethnicity) and the health of human populations.

Winter 2017

SOCI508A Advanced Methods Seminar - ADV METHODS SEM Sections

Sociology of Health and Illness, Social Determinants of Health, Social Statistics, Classical Sociological Theory, Social Capital and Health

Beyond the classroom, I am highly involved in mentoring students and trainees. Click on my Research tab for more information.

*Please Note: I will be on leave from July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018 and thus will be unable to mentor or supervise any incoming students or postdoctoral fellows for 2017 or 2018.


Ph.D., Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, 2004
M.Phil., Sociomedical Sciences, Columbia University, 2003
M.P.H., Case Western Reserve University, 2001
M.A., Sociology, Baylor University, 1998
B.A., Sociology, Baylor University, 1997

Other Affiliations

Associate Member, School of Population and Public Health
Faculty Associate, Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies
Faculty Affiliate, Human Early Learning Partnership
Affiliated Investigator, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute
Co-editor, Journal of Health & Social Behavior
Associate Editor, Society and Mental Health, the journal of the American Sociological Association Section on the Sociology of Mental Health


Richard M. Carpiano is Professor of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. Prior to his arrival at UBC in 2006, he was a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Carpiano is a medical sociologist with related training and interests in public and population health, community sociology and research methods (including measurement and research design). His substantive interests center on examining the ways in which social factors, such as education, income, race/ethnicity, social connections, and local community environments contribute to physical and mental health and health disparities. He has authored or co-authored research published in forums such as the American Journal of Public Health, American Sociological Review, Health & Place, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Journal of Health & Social Behavior, Social Science and Medicine, and Sociology of Health & Illness.

Several of Carpiano’s current projects focus on the positive and negative ways in which neighborhood- and general network-based community ties influence the health of adult and child subpopulations. For this work, he is collaborating with Canadian and international scholars and trainees from a range of disciplines; including sociology, health and community psychology, and population and public health, in analyzing data from Canada, the United States, and other countries.

Most recently, Carpiano has also been engaged in or has led the development of several collaborative projects focused on investigating social and behavioral factors underlying child vaccination uptake and coverage (and refusal or delay) in the US and Canada. Two of these projects focus on public attitudes towards child undervaccination and vaccination policies; while the remainder examine community and parental factors that may influence vaccination coverage and related disparities.

In addition to his academic work, Carpiano believes strongly in the importance of sharing his findings and expertise beyond the university campus. He engages frequently with the press and public about his research and other topics related to population health, community issues, and the importance of research for informing policy (e.g., data access, evaluating evidence). His solo and co-authored research has been featured in national and international news forums. In addition, he is regularly providing commentary for stories featured in local, national, and international news outlets and has appeared on live radio programs to discuss a range of topics.

Carpiano is the recipient of two investigator awards that have supported his program of research: a six year Career Investigator Award from the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research (2007-2013) and a five year New Investigator Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2010-2105). In 2014, he was awarded UBC’s Killam Research Prize for his contributions to scholarship and in 2015, was selected for a UBC Killam Research Fellowship.