Karen Maxwell


  • 70 Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow Caledonian University

    G4 0BA Glasgow

    United Kingdom

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Personal profile

Research interests

Dr Karen Maxwell is a post-doctoral researcher in the Substance Use Research Group at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU). She currently works on an NIHR-funded project investigating the societal impact of extended bar / nightclub opening hours on alcohol-related public health harms (the ‘ELEPHANT’ study). On this study, Karen led deliberative focus groups with the public, examining public views on alcohol harms in society and the future of Scotland’s night time economy post-COVID. 

Karen has worked extensively in public health research, investigating social attitudes towards a wide range of public health topics. Karen’s research interests centre around gender and social inequalities in health, with previous research having focused on alcohol policy, sexual health, parenting, poverty, and women’s reproductive health. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of York, a MSc in Occupational Psychology from the University of Manchester and a PhD in Social and Public Health Sciences from the University of Glasgow.

Prior to joining GCU, Karen worked for the MRC Social and Public Health Sciences Unit (SPHSU) for ten years, most recently working as part of the team conducting the 4th National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) in the UK. During her time as part of the Natsal team, Karen worked on the development and validation of a new measure of Sexual Wellbeing (the Natsal-SW) to be used in population surveys. During COVID, she worked on Natsal-COVID, investigating the impact of COVID-19 on people’s sexual health and wellbeing. Whilst at SPHSU, Karen also conducted research into abortion experiences and stigma (the SASS project: https://www.sassproject.org.uk/), leading the day-to-day management of this project.

Karen completed her PhD in 2017 on disadvantaged men’s fatherhood and attitudes towards parenting interventions. This work formed part of the THRIVE trial (Trial of Healthy Relationship Initiatives for the Very Early-years) which investigated the impact of antenatal parenting interventions for women with additional health and social care needs in pregnancy.

Karen has worked in research roles in both academic and commercial settings, working as a Research Psychologist for a psychology consultancy in London before moving on to work in public health research in academia.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being


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