Sharon B. Schwartz, PhD

  • Professor of Epidemiology at CUMC
Profile Headshot


Sharon Schwartz, PhD, currently focuses her work on the relationship between potential outcomes approaches to causality and systems dynamics. Dr. Schwartz is particularly interested in how methodological tools, the assumptions on which they are based and the language in which they are discussed, frame the interpretation of data. In the course of studying the effect of social factors on psychiatric disorders, Dr. Schwartz became intrigued by the diametrically opposed conclusions that scientists from different disciplines often draw from the same data. This current interest resulted in a research program that encompasses a wide range of specific methodological issues, such as heritability estimates, well controls, diagnostic validity, the definition of "disorder," as well as more general problems of causal inference, including the implications of Rubin's causal model and other counterfactual approaches, and the relationship between the Cook and Campbell tradition in social psychology and epidemiologic traditions. She also does research on the effects of prejudice and discrimination on the mental health of disadvantaged groups. Dr. Schwartz is the training coordinator for the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program and teaches epidemiologic methods. She participates in the Teagle Colleguim on Psychological Science and Student Learning to integrate evidenced based teaching and mentoring practices into epidemiology.

Academic Appointments

  • Professor of Epidemiology at CUMC

Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • PhD, 1985 Columbia University, GSAS
  • MS, 1988 Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University


Sharon Schwartz, a sociologist, is the Training Coordinator for the Psychiatric Epidemiology Training Program at Columbia. Her research focuses on methodological issues, particularly in psychiatric research, and on the integration of methods from sociology, genetics and epidemiology.

Research Interests

  • Aging

Selected Publications

Susser, E., Schwartz, S et al. Psychiatric Epidemiology: Searching for the Causes of Mental Disorders Oxford univeristy press new york 2006

Campbell, U, Gatto N, Schwartz, S Distributional Interaction: Interpretational problems when using incidence odds ratios to assess interaction Epidemiologic Perspectives and Innovations 2 na 2005

Schwartz, S and Diez-Roux A. Causes of Incidence and Causes of Cases: A Durkheimian Perspective on Rose International Journal of Epidemiology 30 435-439 2001

Schwartz, S Outcomes for the Sociology of Mental Health: Are We Meeting Our Goals? Journal of Health and Social Behavior 43 223-235 2002

Schwartz, S and Carpenter K. The Right Answer for the Wrong QUestion: The Consequences of Type III Error for Public Health Research American Journal of Public Health 89 1175-1180 1999

Schwartz, S. The Fallacy of the Ecologic Fallacy: Potential Misuse of a Concept and Its Consequences American Journal of Public Health 84 819-824 1994

Allan Horwitz and Theresa Scheid The Sociology of Mental Health and Illness Cambridge Cambridge 79-103 1999

Schwartz S. Women and Depression: A Durkheimian Perspective Social Science and Medicine 2 127-140 1991

Schwartz S, Levav I and Dohrenwend B. Non-Genetic Familial Transmisson of Psychiatric Disorders? Journal of Health and Social Behavior 35 385-402 1994

Dohrenwend BP, Levav I., Shrout P, Schwartz S, Naveh G, Link B, Skodol A and Stueve A. Socioeconomic Status and Psychiatric Disorders Science 946-952 1992