Helena Hansen, MD PhD

Areas of Expertise: Addiction Psychiatry, Community-Academic-Public Partnerships, Healthcare and Public Policy, Medical Education, Social Medicine

Professor of Psychiatry and Anthropology

Chair, Research Theme in Translational Social Science and Health Equity, UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine

Associate Director, Center for Social Medicine and Humanities

Helena Hansen, MD, Ph.D., is Professor in the Departments of Anthropology and Psychiatry. She has published widely in clinical and social science journals ranging from JAMA and NEJM to Social Science and Medicine and Medical Anthropology, on faith healing of addiction in Puerto Rico, psychiatric disability under welfare reform, opioids and race, and ethnic marketing of pharmaceuticals. Together with Jonathan Metzl, she co-developed the concept of structural competency.

Her first book, Addicted to Christ: Remaking Men in Puerto Rican Pentecostal Drug Ministries was published by University of California Press in 2018, and her second book, Structural Competency in Medicine and Mental Health: A Case-Based Approach to Treating the Social Determinants of Health, with co-editor Jonathan Metzl, was published by Springer Press in 2019. She has received major funding from NIDA, the Mellon Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.


  • Hansen H. Substance‐Induced Psychosis: Clinical‐Racial Subjectivities and Capital in Diagnostic Apartheid. Ethos. 2019 Mar;47(1):73-88.

  • Hansen H, Braslow J, Rohrbaugh RM. From cultural to structural competency—training psychiatry residents to act on social determinants of health and institutional racism. JAMA psychiatry. 2018 Feb 1;75(2):117-8.

  • Hansen H, Bourgois P, Drucker E. Pathologizing poverty: New forms of diagnosis, disability, and structural stigma under welfare reform. Social Science & Medicine. 2014 Feb 1;103:76-83.

  • Metzl JM, Hansen H. Structural competency: Theorizing a new medical engagement with stigma and inequality. Social science & medicine. 2014 Feb 1;103:126-33.


  • Hansen H, Metzl JM, editors. Structural competency in mental health and medicine: A case-based approach to treating the social determinants of health. Springer; 2019 Mar 28.

  • Hansen, H. (2018). Addicted to Christ: Remaking Men in Puerto Rican Pentecostal Drug Ministries. Univ of California Press.