Dr Karen Maxwell

  • Research Assistant (MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit)


Karen is a Research Assistant in the Relationships and Health programme at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit. She works on a range of projects looking at the impact of social relationships on health. Karen is currently part of the team conducting the 4th National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (NATSAL) in the UK. Most recently she has conducted qualitative work investigating the impact of covid-19 on people’s sexual health and wellbeing (Natsal Covid).

From 2018-19, Karen worked on the Wellcome Trust funded SASS project investigating abortion stigma, leading the day-to-day management of the project, including coordinating data sharing, analysis, and project events. Karen has co-authored two peer-reviewed publications based on findings from the SASS project, including a first-authored paper on how health professionals contribute to normalising abortion.

Karen completed her PhD in 2017 investigating constructions of fatherhood and attitudes of disadvantaged men in Scotland towards parenting interventions. This work formed part of the THRIVE trial and involved in-depth interviews with the male partners of women taking part in the trial. Karen’s research interests include: gender, poverty, social exclusion, social inequalities, sexual health, women's health rights, abortion, and concepts of good motherhood and fatherhood.

Prior to joining MRC/CSO SPHSU, Karen worked in research roles in both academic and commercial settings, working as a Research Psychologist for an Occupational Psychology consultancy in London before moving on to work as a Research Assistant at the University of Glasgow. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from the University of York (2005) and a MSc in Occupational Psychology from the University of Manchester (2006).

Research interests

Research interests: gender, women's health rights, abortion, concepts of good motherhood and fatherhood, parenting, parenting interventions, masculinities and femininities, poverty, social exclusion, and social inequalities.

Expertise: qualitative methods, fatherhood, masculinities, gender, men’s engagement with parenting interventions.


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