Dr. Karen Lyons

Boston College

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Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA

Dr. Karen Lyons

Boston College


My program of research focuses on the interpersonal context of chronic illness with particular emphasis on how and why members of the care dyad are similar and different in their appraisals of the illness context. I am interested in the impact this similarity/difference has on management of the illness by the couple or family dyad and ultimately how it impacts the health and well-being of both members. I have taken a unique dyadic perspective throughout my career to view the older adult and their family member providing care as a team. I strongly believe this perspective sheds important light on the illness and care experience and will lead to more ecologically-sound and effective interventions. I have published extensively across disciplines. All of my research has involved interdisciplinary teams; something I highly value and believe essential. Nearly 20 years of empirical evidence culminated in the publication of the Theory of Dyadic Illness Management.


Pennsylvania State University
Pennsylvania, United States
PhD, 1999
Human Development & Family Studies
1995 To 1999
Dissertation: Understanding the Interface between Formal and Informal Support: The Role of the Caregiving Dyad
Advisor: Steve Zarit

University College Dublin
Dublin, Ireland
Social Psychology
1993 To 1995
Dissertation: Dependency in the Urban Elderly: An Exploratory Study
Advisor: Joan Tiernan

University College Dublin
Dublin, Ireland
BA (Hons), 1993
1990 To 1993

Job History

Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA, United States
June 2021 - present

Boston College
Associate Professor
Chestnut Hill, MA, United States
July 2018 - present

Department of Psychiatry, Oregon Health & Science University
Associate Professor
June 2013 - June 2018

School of Nursing, Oregon Health & Science Univeristy
Associate Professor
July 2010 - June 2018

Assistant Professor
January 2001 - January 2010

Areas Of Expertise

  • Cancer
  • Caregiving
  • Caregiving: Caregiver Stress and Coping Strategies
  • Caregiving: Spouse Caregivers
  • Dementia
  • Family
  • Gerontology
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Parkinson's Disease


  • Psychology