Prof. Karen M Wright

Professor of Nursing & Head of School of Nursing

School of Nursing

Brook Building, BB434

+44 (0) 1772 89 3637

Subject Areas: Health

Karen leads the School of Nursing at UCLan. She firmly believes that both nurses and educators seek to help the person to be the best they can possibly be, and employs this philosophy throughout her work, both academic and clinical. Karen’s approach is dynamic and innovative as maintaining a contemporary and evidence based approach which is absolutely crucial to ensure that the service user is provided with the best possible approaches to their care.

Social Media

Professional Profile

Karen’s career has spanned over thirty years and has included a diverse range of clinical experience from cardio-thoracic surgery to her last clinical post as Nurse Consultant for Personality Disorder at Ashworth High Security Hospital in Merseycare NHS Trust. In that time, she had lead and developed services which have been transformed both practice and care.  Some examples of such evidence based innovation include an in-service training programme in 1996 to enable professionals working in urgent care and mental health services across Chorley and South Ribble around ‘Self harm’ at a time when resources and insight were scarce and care and treatment was poorly informed;  a specialised Palliative Care Unit for people in late stage dementia in 1998 and one of the first ‘Crisis Intervention Teams’ in the UK, in 2000, which drew on the findings of her research into ‘How mental health professional perceive crisis’ for her MA in  Interprofessional Issues in Health and Welfare.

Since 2003 Karen has worked with colleagues and stakeholders to develop a number of key mental health curricula, including the MSc Personality Disorder, PGCert Investigating Serious Incidents, PGCert Conflict and Violence Minimisation and the major modification of the Pre-registration Nursing Programme in 2016. Nursing is a dynamic and progressive profession and this has motivated Karen to create contemporary and evidence based education and training to enhance the profession and the experience of the service user.

Karen’s PhD thesis ‘An interpretative phenomenological study of the therapeutic relationship occurring between women admitted to eating disorder services and their workers’ established her position that the therapeutic relationship is pivotal to assisting the person with anorexia to commence on their journey to recovery and survival. She continues to work in a consultancy role for an in-patient Eating Disorder Service, ensuring that evidence based practice is delivered and that her work is grounded in the real experience of service users, their families and their care team.

In addition to her educational leadership and clinical consultancy Karen currently voluntarily provides Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to UCLan students experiencing mental health difficulties, referred through the innovative Student Services’ Mental health advisor service.

PhD supervision:
Karen is currently Director of Studies for 4 doctoral students and second supervisor for 4 others. She is a qualitative researcher with specific expertise in phenomenology, ethnography and grounded theory.

  • PhD
  • MA Interprofessional Issues in Health and Welfare
  • PGCert Learning & Teaching in Higher Education
  • PGCert Research Methods
  • PGCert Personality Disorder
  • BSc(Comb) Hons: Nursing/Health
  • Diploma in Eating Disorders (Distinction)
  • Registered Mental Nurse
  • Registered General Nurse


McKeown, M., Wright, KM, Mercer D. (2017) Care planning: a neoliberal three card trick Journal of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing ISSN 1351-0126

McKeown, M., Chandley, M., Jones, F., Wright, K., Duxbury, J. and Foy, P. (2016) Explorations of cooperation and recalcitrance in secure mental health hospitals. European Psychiatry, 33, p.S462.

Mckeown, M. Wright, K.M. et al (2016) It’s the talk: A study of involvement initiatives in secure mental health settings. Health Expectations. 19 (3) 570–579 Available at

Wright, KM & Schroeder, D. (2016) Turning the Tables: The Vulnerability of Nurses Treating Anorexia Nervosa Patients. Cambridge Quarterly. 25 (2) 219-227

McKeown, M., Edgar, F., Foy, P. Wright, KM (2016) Looking back, looking forward: Recovery journeys in a high secure hospital International journal of mental health nursing 25(3)  DOI: 10.1111/inm.12204

Emma Jones & Wright, K.M. (2015) ‘They’re really PD today’: An exploration of mental health nursing students’ perceptions of developing a therapeutic relationship with service users with a diagnosis of antisocial personality disorder. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology first published on July 13, 2015 as doi:10.1177/0306624X15594838

Baverstock S and Wright K.M. (2015) Borderline personality disorder in young people: the perspectives of frontline professionals in child and adolescent mental health. Mental Health Nursing 35(4): 14-19.

More publications

Research Activities

Wright K (2000) How do Professionals Working within Mental Health Services Perceive Crisis Unpublished, Ethnomethological Study for MA: Interprofessional Issues in Health and Welfare

To ascertain what factors influence the police decision to remove a person from a public place to a place of safety under Section 136 (Mental Health Act 1983) Principal  Investigator: Karen Wright Co-investigator: Ivan McGlen 2008

The administration of medication on acute in-patient mental health wards:  Principal Investigator: Joy Duxbury, Co-investigators: Karen Wright, (UCLan) & Catherine Fewster, Chief Pharmacist Lancashire Care Foundation Trust.  Submitted to the British Academy - £80,000 FEC. 2006

An Evaluation of the Implementation, Management and Impact of service user involvement initiatives in secure care, Yorkshire & Humber. PI: Mick Mckeown. Co-investigators: Helen Spandler, Fiona Jones, Graham Browning. 2012

Service user involvement in forensic care. PI: McKeown M. Co-investigators:  Spandler H, Pilgrim D & Duxbury, J. Funded by Yorkshire Secure Services Commissioning Team. 2013

PhD study: A phenomenological study of the therapeutic relationships between women with anorexia and their workers within an eating disorder service. PI: Karen Wright 2013

Gauging the relative impact of night confinement in a High Secure Hospital (GRINCH)
Chu, S., McNeill, K., Wright, K.M. Hague, A. & Wilkins, T.      PI Simon Chu 2014

Qualitative study of extreme coercive measures. PI: McKeown, Co-investigators: M., Chandley, M., Jones, F., & Duxbury, J. Ashworth Hospital/Mersey Care NHS Trust. 2015
Facilitating Change in Mentalization-Based Therapy (MBT) for Personality Disorder: Patients' and Therapists' Perspectives. PI: Kathryn Gardener CI Karen Wright 2015- ongoing

Research Groups
  • Mental Health & Wellbeing

Teaching Activities and Responsibilities

Karen provides doctoral supervision for mental health studies using qualitative methods, and specifically, phenomenology. She also teaches on personality disorder, eating disorder and self-harm.

External Activities

External Professional Activity

  • Trustee for the International Institute for Special Needs Offenders 2003- 2015
  • Member of Member of Mental Health Academics UK 2006- present
  • Member of the MH Qualitative Research Network. 2008- present
  • Local Research Ethics Committee (LREC) expert member 2015 to present
  • RCN appointed reviewer of NICE Guidance for Eating Disorders 2017
  • Nurse Consultant for Eating Disorder Services, Priory Group 2006- present

Journal Reviewer for:

  • The International Journal for Mental Health
  • The Journal of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing
  • The British Journal of Nursing
  • International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.
  • The Journal of Child Health Care

External examining:

  • University of Galway: Sept 2011 –May 2015
  • Edge Hill University: Sept 2012- July 2015
  • Kings College , London: 2014-2017
  • Trinity College , Dublin: 2017-

Distinguished visitor to :

  • Toronto General Hospital Eating Disorder Service June 2014
  • University of South Florida Oct 2016


Conference presentations: (Last 5 years)


British and Irish Group of the Study of Personality Disorders

17th Annual Conference. British and Irish Group of the Study of Personality Disorders. Douglas, Isle of Man. 15th to 17th march 2016

Three oral presentations:

  • Borderline Personality Disorder in Young People: The Perspectives of Frontline Professionals in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Baverstock, S. & Wright, K.
  • An evaluation of “case based” teaching on personal and professional development (theoretical and practical aspects) of students working in the Personality Disorder field. da Silveira Ramos & Wright, K
  • Adult, child and mental health nursing students and qualified professionals all learning about personality disorder together. Jones, E & Wright, K.

22nd International Network for Psychiatric Nursing (NPNR) Research Conference. Nottingham.
15th and 16th September 2016:

Oral presentation: 'Once upon a time I would have knocked his lights out'. Wright, K., Gardner, K., Elliott, A.


9th European Congress on Violence in Clinical Psychiatry “Advancing knowledge – Transforming Practice” Oct 2015:
Poster: Co-productivity- a cross agency partnership for education and skills acquisition: the TEAM course (‘Teaching Effective Aggression Management’)

Wright, K., Sinclair, T. & Harbison, I.

International Association of Forensic Mental Health Services


Workshop: ‘Safety in MIND’ Cross-organisational training to improve patient safety in crisis and restraint. Wright, K., Hammond, N.

21st International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research Conference
“Building new relationships in mental health nursing: opportunities and challenges”
September 2015


Oral presentation: I was perfect just the way I was.  The therapeutic relationship between women with anorexia and their workers. Toronto General Hospital, CA. Wright, KM. June 2014

Oral presentation: Recovery stories in high secure settings. International Association of Forensic Mental Health conference. Toronto  June 2014. Mckeown M, Jones F, Wright K.M  et al

Oral presentation: A study into attitudes towards violence and aggression in a high security hospital International Association of Forensic Mental Health conference. Toronto, CA  June 2014. Wright, K.M. et al


Oral presentation: A qualitative study into the attitudes of patients and staff towards violence in a high security hospital
8th European Congress on Violence in Clinical Psychiatry. Ghent, Belgium.  October 2013. Wright, K.M.,  Duxbury, J., Baker, A. & Crumpton, A.

Oral presentation: Phenomenology, the toast story and the experience of interviewing  women with anorexia and their workers. Mental Health Qualitative Research Network 23rd September Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Centre for Quality Improvement. London Wright, K.M.

Oral presentation: Aspiration: If I can do it, so can you! Student Research Conference, School of Health. May 2013  Wright, K.M.

Oral presentation: ‘Tears and tantrums, angels and  demons’ The lived experience of the therapeutic relationship between women with anorexia and their workers. RCN 2013 international nursing research conference. Belfast, Ireland.  Wednesday 20 – Friday 22 March 2013 Wright, K. M.


Oral presentation: Liberation from Secure Services. Self harm and recovery: minimising harm and maximising hope.  Westleigh Conference Centre , Sept 2012 Wright, K.M. &  Jones, F.

Oral presentation: You might not tell them, but there’s always a reason.  18th International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research Mental Health Nursing and Research Through the ages . Wednesday 26 – Thursday 27 September 2012. Keble College, Oxford University . A study into the constructions of self harm by women in a forensic service. Baker, A, Wright, K.M.  & Hansen, E.

Oral presentation: A phenomenological study of the therapeutic relationship between women admitted to eating disorder services and their care-workers 18th International Network for Psychiatric Nursing Research Mental Health Nursing and Research...Through the ages . Wednesday 26 – Thursday 27 September 2012. Keble College, Oxford University. Wright, K.M.

Oral presentation: Phenomenology: entering the lifeworld of the anorexic and their workers Midwifery Postgraduate Seminar - 12th September 2012. UCLan. Wright, K. M.

Oral presentation: Scratching the surface: Developing Healthy Working relationships with People with Borderline Personality Disorder who Self Harm: re-adjusting perceptions. Comensus Conference, Wright, K.M. &  Jones, F.