Dr. Berkman is a social epidemiologist whose work focuses extensively on psychosocial influences on health outcomes. Her research has been oriented towards understanding social inequalities in health related to socioeconomic status, different racial and ethnic groups, and social networks, support and social isolation. The majority of her work is devoted to identifying the role of social networks and support in predicting declines in physical and cognitive functioning, onset of disease and mortality, especially related to cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease and cancer.
Primary studies in which Dr. Berkman is involved are several large prospective cohort studies: The Established Populations for the Epidemiologic Study of the Elderly Studies (EPESE) and the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Aging longitudinal studies in communities. The second set of studies are clinical trials to test the effects of psychosocial interventions in improving prognosis in people with chronic illness.