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Alfred H. Katz

Professor of Public Health and Social Welfare, Emeritus

Los Angeles



Alfred H. Katz, D.S.W., professor emeritus at the UCLA School of Public Health and the School of Public Policy and Social Research, died December 2001 in Los Angeles. During his long career at UCLA, Professor Katz provided a bridge between the clinical interests of medicine and social welfare and the population-based interests of public health. His research centered on human behavior within the context of health and illness, with particular interests in the application of research findings drawn from biological evidence, clinical evidence and studies of individuals, families and larger social institutions.


Born in Auckland, New Zealand in 1916, Dr. Katz graduated from the University of New Zealand with a B.A. in 1935. He obtained his master’s degree in psychology at the University of New Zealand in 1936, and the Doctor of Social Welfare (D.S.W.) in 1957 from Columbia University. Dr. Katz worked as a practitioner, administrator, and researcher in family and child welfare, and industrial and health social work for 15 years in New Zealand, New York City, St. Louis, Willow Run, Michigan, and Brooklyn before and while completing his doctoral work. Professor Katz came to UCLA in 1958 as head of the Division of Social Welfare in Medicine in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health at the School of Medicine, with faculty appointments in Public Health, Social Welfare, Nursing, and Preventive Medicine. He was instrumental in forming the Division of Population, Family and International Health in the School of Public Health, which subsequently became part of the Department of Community Health Sciences.


Dr. Katz published more than 50 scientific papers, 30 chapters, and nine books. His early research focused on the psychological well-being, physical health, rehabilitation and community integration of disabled and handicapped populations, with particular emphasis on hemophilia. He was the editor or author of five books in these general areas: Mental Retardation and Social Work Education (1961); Parents of the Handicapped (1961); Health and the Community (1965) with J. S. Felton; Hemophilia: A Study in Hope and Reality (1970), with J. S. Felton; and Handbook of Services for the Handicapped (1982), with K. Martin.


In the mid-1960s Professor Katz became interested in lay group counseling and self-help movements, originally within the context of rehabilitation and disability. He published a number of chapters on self-help and four books, The Strength in Us: Self-Help Groups in the Modern World (1976), with Eugene I. Bender, Self-Care: Lay Initiatives in Health (1976), with Lowell Levin and Erik Holst, Helping One Another: Self-Help Groups in a Changing World (1990), with Eugene I. Bender, and Self-Help in America: A Social Movement Perspective (1993). In 1999, Professor Katz founded and was the first editor of the International Journal of Self Help and Self Care, which was designed to be a source of information on current developments, activities, and innovations in self-help groups and organizations around the world.


Professor Katz was active in the international community, holding visiting professorships at the London School of Economics, Hebrew University (Jerusalem), and the Universities of Aberdeen (Scotland) and Copenhagen (Denmark). He served as the chairman of the Committee on Public Relations and Development at the Post-Graduate Inter-University Centre in Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia, and as co-chairman of the UCLA-University of Copenhagen Joint Center for Studies of Health Programs. Professor Katz served as a consultant to the World Health Organization, presented papers at numerous international meetings, and lectured at numerous universities around the world.


Professor Katz was predeceased by his wife Elsie Katz, who served on the counseling staff at UCLA. His daughter, Susan Watkins, survives him.


                            Linda B. Bourque

                            Carl A. Maida