Karen Weihs, MD

Associate Professor, Family and Community Medicine
Member of the Graduate Faculty
Professor, Psychiatry

2023 Women In Medicine and Science Awardee

Dr. Karen Weihs is Professor of Psychiatry and a Comprehensive Member of the Arizona Cancer Center. She is Medical Director of Psychosocial Support and PsychoOncology Services for the Arizona Cancer Center. Dr. Weihs has developed a model for cancer patients, mental health care including a collaborative team of oncologists, social workers and psychiatrists.

Research Interests: 

Dr. Weihs' research focuses on family processes and emotion regulation as they affect both mental health and disease progression in patients with cancer and end stage renal disease. She has written and lectured widely on family influences on medical illness. Dr. Weihs is also an experienced psychopharmacology researcher, focusing on pharmacologic interventions for anxiety and depressive disorders in children, adolescents and adults. At the Center for Family Research she collaborated on prevention studies of children of depressed parents and children in families stressed by parental unemployment. Her research includes a longitudinal study of marital quality in breast cancer patients, examining oxytocin as a mediator of the salutary effects of close personal relationship on disease progression. This was a five-year study funded by the Army Medical Research Program in Breast Cancer Research. She is also collaborating on animal model studies of oxytocin and social bonding with Denise Frank, PhD, an animal behavior research specialist at the Arizona Cancer Center.

Selected Publications: 

1) Bean HR; Diggens J, Ftanou M; Weihs KL; Stanton AL; Wiley JF Insomnia and Fatigue Symptom Trajectories in Breast Cancer: A Longitudinal Cohort Study Behavioral Sleep Medicine. (2021) In Press.

2) Kim JH; Bright EE; Williamson TJ; Krull JL; Weihs KL; Stanton AL. Transitions in coping profiles after breast cancer diagnosis: implications for depressive and physical symptoms." Journal of Behavioral Medicine: (2021) 44 (1): 1 - 17 https://doi.org/10.1007/s10865-020-00159-w 3) Czamanski-Cohen J; Wiley JF; Weihs KL. Protocol for the REPAT Study: Role of Emotional Processing in Art Therapy for Breast Cancer Palliative Care. BMJ Open (2020) 10 (11) e03752. 4) Smith R; Steklis HD; Steklis NG; Weihs KL; Lane RD. The evolution and development of the uniquely human capacity for emotional awareness: A synthesis of comparative anatomical, cognitive, neurocomputational, and evolutionary psychological perspectives. Biological Psychology (2020) 154 107925.

5) Segrin C; Badger TA; Sikorskii A; Pasvogel A; Weihs K; Lopez AM; Chalasani P. Longitudinal dyadic interdependence in psychological distress among Latinas with breast cancer and their caregivers. Supportive Care in Cancer. (2020) 28(6): 2735-2743.

6) Smith TW, Weihs KL. Emotion, Social Relationship, and Physical Health: Concepts, Methods, and Evidence for an Integrative Perspective. Psychosomatic Medicine (2019) 81(8): 681-693. PMID: 31415000

7) Stinesen Kollberg K, Wiley JF, Ross KM, Jorge-Miller A, Hammen C, Weihs KL, Stanton AL. Chronic Stress in Vocational and Intimate Partner Domains as Predictors of Depressive Symptoms After Breast Cancer Diagnosis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2019) 53(4): 333-344. DOI: 10.1093/abm/kay045

8) Smith R, Weihs KL,Alkozei A,Killgore WDS,Lane RD. An Embodied Neurocomputational Framework for Organically Integrating Biopsychosocial Processes: An Application to the Role of Social Support in Health and Disease." Psychosomatic Medicine (2019) 81(2): 125-145.

9) Weihs KL, McConnell MH, Wiley JF, Crespi CM, Sauer‐Zavala S, Stanton AL. A preventive intervention to modify depression risk targets after breast cancer diagnosis: Design and single‐arm pilot study. Psycho‐Oncology. (2019) 28:880–887. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.5037

10) Stanton AL, Wiley JF, Krull JL, Crespi CM, Weihs, KL Cancer-Related Coping Processes as Predictors of Depressive Symptoms, Trajectories, and Episodes. (2018)Jl of Consulting and Clinical Psychology: Oct;86(10):820-830. doi: 10.1037/ccp0000328. PMC6166440 PMID: 30265041

11) Robbins ML, Lopez AM, Weihs KL Naturalistically Observing Non-Cancer Conversations among Couples Coping with Breast Cancer PsychoOncology. (2018)27 (9); 2206-2213.

12) Marshall CA, Curran MA, Brownmiller G, Solarte A, Hamann HA, Armin J, Niemelä M, Crist JD, Weihs KL

13) Oregon’s Familias en Acción Replicates Benefits for Underserved Cancer Co-Survivors through Un Abrazo Para la Familia. (2018) PsychoOncology.;1–7. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.4841

14) Weihs KL, Murphy W, Abbas R, Chiles D, England RD, Ramaker S, Wajsbrot DB Desvenlafaxine Versus Placebo in a Fluoxetine-Referenced Study of Children and Adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder. (2018) Jl of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology 28(1): 36-46.

15) Weihs, KL, Wiley JF, Crespi CM, Krull JL, Stanton, AL Predicting Future Major Depression and Persistent Depressive Symptoms: Development of a Prognostic Screener and PHQ4 cutoffs in Breast Cancer Patients PsychoOncology: (2018) 27:420-426 https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.4472 16) Harris LN, Bauer M R, Wiley JF, Hammen C, Krull JL, Crespi CM, Weihs KL, Stanton, AL Chronic and episodic stress predict physical symptom bother following breast cancer diagnosis. J Behav Med. (2017) 40:875–885. DOI 10.1007/s10865-017-9855-x

17) Czamanski-Cohen J, Weihs KL The bodymind model: A platform for studying the mechanisms of change induced by art therapy. The Arts in Psychotherapy (2016) 51: 63-71.

18) Larkey L, Huberty J, Pedersen M, Weihs K Qigong / Tai Chi Easy for fatigue in breast cancer survivors: rationale and design of a randomized clinical trial. Contemporary Clinical Trials. (2016)50: 222 – 228. DOI: 10.1016/j.cct.2016.08.002.

19) Reed RG, Weihs, KL, Sbarra DS, Breen EC, Irwin MR, & Butler EA. Emotional acceptance, inflammation, and sickness symptoms across the first two years following breast cancer diagnosis. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. (2016) 65: 165-74. DOI 10.1016/j.bbi.2016.02.018

20) Stanton AL, Wiley JF, Krull JL, Crespi CM, Hammen C, Allen JJB, Barron ML, Jorge A, Weihs, KL Depressive episodes, symptoms and trajectories in women recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. (2015) 154:105-115 DOI 10.1007/210549-015-3563-4.

21) Dodds SE, Pace TWW, Bell ML, Fiero, M, Negi LT, Raison CL, Weihs KL Feasibility of Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT) on Psychological Well-Being in Breast Cancer Survivors: A Randomized, Wait List Controlled Pilot Study. Supportive Care in Cancer. (2015) 23:3599-3608. DOI 10.1007/s00520-015-2888-1

22) Lane RD, Weihs KL, Herring A, Hishaw A, Smith R. Affective Agnosia: Expansion of the Alexithymia Construct and a New Opportunity to Integrate and Extend Freud’s Legacy. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews. (2015) 55: 594–611. PMID: 26054794

23) Larkey LK, Roe D, Weihs K, Jahnke RA, Lopez AM, Guillen J., Rogers C, Oh B. Randomized Controlled Trial of Qigong/Tai Chi Easy on Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors. Annals of Behavioral Medicine. (2015) 49(2): 165-176.DOI: 10.1007/s12160-014-9645-4

Full Publication List

  • MD: University of Iowa College of Medicine, 1979
  • BA: University of Northern Iowa, 1975
Honors and Awards
  • The Outstanding Clinical Care Award, American Psychosocial Oncology Society, 2008
  • Who's Who Among Executives and Professionals "Honors Edition", 2008-2009
  • Senior Women's Health Scholar, Women's Center of Excellence, University of Arizona, 2009
  • University of Wisconsin- Madison, Child Psychiatry, 1989-1991
  • University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Psychiatry, 1986-1989
  • Hunterdon Medical Center, Family Medicine, 1981-1982
  • York Hospital, Family Medicine, 1979-1981
Board Certifications
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology - Hospice and Palliative Medicine, 2012
  • American Board of Family Practice, 2009
  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology - Psychiatry, 1994



Kim, J. H. J., E. E. Bright, T. J. Williamson, J. L. Krull, K. L. Weihs, and A. L. Stanton, "Transitions in coping profiles after breast cancer diagnosis: implications for depressive and physical symptoms.", J Behav Med, vol. 44, issue 1, pp. 1-17, 2021 Feb. PMCID: PMC7736058  PMID: 32535673


Smith, R., K. L. Weihs, A. Alkozei, W. D. S. Killgore, and R. D. Lane, "An Embodied Neurocomputational Framework for Organically Integrating Biopsychosocial Processes: An Application to the Role of Social Support in Health and Disease.", Psychosom Med, vol. 81, issue 2, pp. 125-145, 2019 Feb/Mar. PMID: 30520766
Czamanski-Cohen, J., J. F. Wiley, N. Sela, O. Caspi, and K. Weihs, "The role of emotional processing in art therapy (REPAT) for breast cancer patients.", J Psychosoc Oncol, pp. 1-13, 2019 Apr 01. PMID: 30929590
Weihs, K. L., D. B. Wajsbrot, D. Chiles, S. Ramaker, and P. Chappell, "Re: "Desvenlafaxine Versus Placebo in a Fluoxetine-Referenced Study of Children and Adolescents with Major Depressive Disorder: Design, Definitions, and Ongoing Challenges for Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology Research"", J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol, 2019 Mar 15. PMID: 30874454
Weihs, K. L., M. H. McConnell, J. F. Wiley, C. M. Crespi, S. Sauer-Zavala, and A. L. Stanton, "A preventive intervention to modify depression risk targets after breast cancer diagnosis: Design and single-arm pilot study.", Psychooncology, 2019 Feb 25. PMID: 30803095