Dr Karen James

School: Centre for Health and Social Care Research

Job Title: Researcher



Karen became interested in the design and delivery of mental health services whilst working on a mental health ward and has spent the last nine years doing research in this field. Karen is passionate about the potential of research to transform the delivery of mental health services and believes this vision can only be realised by involving people with a lived experience of mental health challenges in all stages of the research process.

Karen's PhD was a study of self-harm on mental health wards and was completed at the Institute of Psychiatry, Kings College London. During her studies she worked on a programme of research into conflict and containment in inpatient psychiatry, and helped to develop the Safewards intervention ( She managed the Safewards cluster randomised controlled trial, and following this, was a research manager at the McPin Foundation, a user-focussed mental health research charity (

In 2016 Karen joined Kingston St George's as a post-doctoral researcher, where she hopes to develop a portfolio of collaborative research which aims to improve the quality of support available to people who self-harm.

Karen's main interests are self-harm, suicide, acute care, the evaluation of complex interventions, social psychiatry, public and patient involvement and the co-production of research knowledge.

Academic and professional qualifications

  • PhD, Health Services Research, Kings College London
  • MSc, Cognitive Neuropsychology, Birkbeck & University College London (joint MSc)
  • BSc, Neuroscience, University College London

Research interests

Self-harm; suicide; acute care; crisis care; development and evaluation of complex interventions; social psychiatry; public and patient involvement; co-production; mixed methods.

Grants and funding

  • 2017 - 2019
    MRC/Welcome Trust/ESRC/DFID Joint Health Systems Research Initiative (2017). Co-Lead Investigator. (£126, 679) Exploring the potential of civic engagement to strengthen mental health systems in Indonesia.
  • 2017 - 2018
    St George's University Small Grants Award (2016), Lead Investigator (£4, 000): A mixed methods study of cultural influences on nursing staff attitudes towards people who self-harm


Jump to: Article
Number of items: 20.


Renwick, Laoise, Lavelle, Mary, James, Karen, Stewart, Duncan, Richardson, Michelle and Bowers, Len (2019) The physical and mental health of acute psychiatric ward staff, and its relationship to experience of physical violence. International Journal Of Mental Health Nursing, 28(1), pp. 268-277. ISSN (print) 1445-8330

Brooks, Helen, James, Karen, Irmansyah, I, Keliat, Budi-Anna, Utomo, Bagus, Rose, Diana, Colucci, Erminia and Lovell, Karina (2018) Exploring the potential of civic engagement to strengthen mental health systems in Indonesia (IGNITE) : a study protocol. International Journal of Mental Health Systems, 12(49), ISSN (online) 1752-4458

James, Karen (2018) Blurred boundaries : a qualitative study of how acts of 'self-harm' and 'attempted suicide' are defined by mental health practitioners. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention, 39(4), pp. 247-254. ISSN (print) 0227-5910

James, Karen, Quirk, Alan, Patterson, Sue and Brennan, Geoff (2017) Quality of intervention delivery in a cluster randomised controlled trial : a qualitative observational study with lessons for implementation fidelity. Trials, 18(548), ISSN (print) 1468-6708

James, Karen and Quirk, Alan (2017) The rationale for shared decision making in mental health care : a systematic review of academic discourse. Mental Health Review Journal, 22(3), pp. 152-165. ISSN (print) 1361-9322

James, Karen, Samuels, Isaac, Moran, Paul and Stewart, Duncan (2017) Harm reduction as a strategy for supporting people who self-harm on mental health wards : the views and experiences of practitioners. Journal of Affective Disorders, 214, pp. 67-73. ISSN (print) 0165-0327

Renwick, Laoise, Stewart, Duncan, Richardson, Michelle, Lavelle, Mary, James, Karen, Hardy, Claire, Price, Owen and Bowers, Len (2016) Aggression on inpatient units : clinical characteristics and consequences. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 25(4), pp. 308-318. ISSN (print) 1445-8330

Lavelle, Mary, Stewart, Duncan, James, Karen, Richardson, Michelle, Renwick, Laoise, Brennan, Geoffrey and Bowers, Len (2016) Predictors of effective de-escalation in acute inpatient psychiatric settings. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 25(15-16), pp. 2180-2188. ISSN (print) 0962-1067

Renwick, Laoise, Lavelle, Mary, Brennan, Geoffrey, Stewart, Duncan, James, Karen, Richardson, Michelle, Williams, Hilary, Price, Owen and Bowers, Len (2016) Physical injury and workplace assault in UK mental health trusts: An analysis of formal reports. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 25(4), pp. 355-366. ISSN (print) 1445-8330

Bowers, Len, James, Karen, Quirk, Alan, Simpson, Alan, Stewart, Duncan and Hodsoll, John (2015) Reducing conflict and containment rates on acute psychiatric wards: The Safewards cluster randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 52(9), pp. 1412-1422. ISSN (print) 0020-7489

Richardson, Michelle, Brennan, Geoffrey, James, Karen, Lavelle, Mary, Renwick, Laoise, Stewart, Duncan and Bowers, Len (2015) Describing the precursors to and management of medication nonadherence on acute psychiatric wards. General Hospital Psychiatry, 37(6), pp. 606-612. ISSN (print) 0163-8343

Bowers, L., Alexander, J., Bilgin, H., Botha, M., Dack, C., James, K., Jarrett, M., Jeffery, D., Nijman, H., Owiti, J. A., Papadopoulos, C., Ross, J., Wright, S. and Stewart, D. (2014) Safewards: the empirical basis of the model and a critical appraisal. Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, 21(4), pp. 354-364. ISSN (print) 1351-0126

Bowers, Len, James, Karen, Quirk, Alan, Wright, Steve, Williams, Hilary and Stewart, Duncan (2013) Identification of the “minimal triangle” and other common event-to-event transitions in conflict and containment incidents. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 34(7), pp. 514-523. ISSN (print) 0161-2840

James, Karen, Stewart, Duncan, Wright, Steve and Bowers, Len (2012) Self harm in adult inpatient psychiatric care: A national study of incident reports in the UK. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 49(10), pp. 1212-1219. ISSN (print) 0020-7489

Bowers, Len, Hammond, Natalie, James, Karen, Quirk, Alan, Robson, Debbie and Stewart, Duncan (2012) Characteristics of acute wards associated with the presence of a psychiatric intensive care unit, and transfers of patients to it. Journal of Psychiatric Intensive Care, 8(2), pp. 66-77. ISSN (print) 1742-6464

Papadopoulos, C., Ross, J., Stewart, D., Dack, C., James, K. and Bowers, L. (2012) The antecedents of violence and aggression within psychiatric in-patient settings. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 125(6), pp. 425-439. ISSN (print) 0001-690X

Stewart, Duncan, Ross, Jamie, Watson, Charlotte, James, Karen and Bowers, Len (2012) Patient characteristics and behaviours associated with self-harm and attempted suicide in acute psychiatric wards. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 21(7-8), pp. 1004-1013. ISSN (print) 0962-1067

James, Karen, Stewart, Duncan and Bowers, Len (2012) Self-harm and attempted suicide within inpatient psychiatric services: A review of the literature. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, 21(4), pp. 301-309. ISSN (print) 1445-8330

Bowers, Len, Dack, Charlotte, Gul, Noreen, Thomas, Ben and James, Karen (2011) Learning from prevented suicide in psychiatric inpatient care: An analysis of data from the National Patient Safety Agency. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 48(12), pp. 1459-1465. ISSN (print) 0020-7489

Robotham, Dan, James, Karen and Cyhlarova, Eva (2010) Managing demand and capacity within child and adolescent mental health services: an evaluation of the Choice and Partnership Approach. Mental Health Review Journal, 15(3), pp. 22-30. ISSN (print) 1361-9322

This list was generated on Sat Jan 25 05:09:09 2020 GMT.