Karen's research focuses on understanding the needs and experiences of the 'new' ageing populations; groups of people with rare and complex health conditions who, for the first time in history and due to innovative medical therapies, have been enabled to grow into adulthood. These pioneering groups include adults with cystic fibrosis, autism, and adults who underwent organ transplant as children. Karen has led a number of studies with members of these groups and those who provide care and support for them, including work on how end of life care is experienced by families of adults with cystic fibrosis; problematising the ‘transition’ to adult care services of children with rare and complex conditions; and the experiences of the now-adult survivors of the first paediatric liver transplants in Britain.

Karen’s research naturally lends itself to working through the ethical issues that arise in the conduct of sensitive research with vulnerable people and she continues to teach and write in these areas. She works closely with Médecins Sans Frontières in delivering bespoke research methods and ethics training to clinicians working in humanitarian settings around the world.

Karen is a member of the ESRC's Peer Review College and The Dunhill Medical Trust's Research Grants Committee. She reviews for a number of social science and clinical journals and is Joint Editor-in-Chief of Sociology of Health & Illness