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Karen Dunleavy

Ms, Dr


Research activity per year

Personal profile

Area of academic expertise - outline

My research interests include infections among people who inject drugs (PWIDs) particularly skin and soft tissue infections and spore forming bacterial infections; harm reduction for PWIDs; healthcare seeking behaviours of PWIDs; legal high injecting and injecting in prisons.


Current research activities

I am currently Principal Investigator on a Chief Scientist Office funded project 'Using foil for drug administration: exploring the views and experience of people who use drugs'. 

This study will explore the views of people attending injecting equipment services about their experience of accessing foil; their use or non-use of foil; and its use among their drug using networks. We will conduct qualitative interviews with service users in NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde to understand how and for what drugs foil is used, what benefits and harms they experience with its use, whether injecting practices have changed as a result and reasons for not smoking drugs with foil. We are interested in hearing their views on the potential of foil as a harm reduction intervention for reducing drug-related infections, overdoses and deaths in order to inform policy and practice. 

Past projects have examined: 

  • the uptake of foil from services and its role in harm reduction among people who inject drugs. This was a collaboration with NHS Public Health Scotland.
  • PWIDs views of their skin and soft tissue infections, their healthcare seeking and harm reduction behaviours. This was a collaboration with NHS Health Protection Scotland and Liverpool John Moores University.
  • the impact of a postcard alerting PWIDs to a botulism outbreak In Glasgow. This was a collaboration with NHS Health Protection Scotland.
  • injecting new psychoactive substances. This was a collaboration with Dundee University.

Desired research direction

To be involved in and develop further research examining: interventions to help PWIDs avoid or deal with skin and soft tissue infections; harm reduction and injecting behaviours for PWIDs.

Target collaborative organisations


Colleagues based at other HE institutions e.g. Liverpool John Moores University, Dundee University, Glasgow Caledonian University

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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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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