Dr Karen Shaw PhD, BSc (Hons), PGCert, MBPsS

Birmingham Research Fellow


Contact details

52 Pritchatts Road
School of Health and Population Sciences
College of Medical and Dental Sciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT


Karen Shaw is a Research Psychologist with a track record in children’s health service development and research. Her work generally focuses on service improvement for children with long-term or life-shortening conditions. Areas of particular interest include transitional care, end-of-life care, user involvement, and psychosocial aspects of childhood illness.

Karen has published many research papers in peer-reviewed journals as well as reviews and book chapters. She is involved in many research projects and has significant experience in qualitative methodologies that facilitate the user-voice to be heard. She is also trained in quantitative methodologies (particularly service evaluation) and has developed a number of educational-resources for patients, carers and health professionals and patient-/carer-centred outcome measures.

She also supports the research of colleagues and students, and contributes to teaching in research methods.


  • PhD Psychology 2001
  • PGCert Information Technology and Research Methods 1995
  • BSc (Hons) Psycholgy 1994


Karen Shaw qualified with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology from Teeside University in 1994. She then went to the University of Leicester where she was awarded a Post-Graduate Certificate in Information Technology and Research Methods. She began her research career at Coventry University, where she managed a project to improve disease education for children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) and gained a PhD to examine the psychosocial needs of adolescents with JIA. She moved to the University of Birmingham in 2000 and since then, has managed several research projects in the fields of child and adolescent health. She was originally based in the Institute of Child Health (at Birmingham Children’s Hospital) where she was the National Project Co-ordinator for the first objective evaluation of a transitional care programme in a chronic condition involving 300 adolescents with arthritis. This was awarded the BUPA Clinical Excellence Award in 2005. She then joined the department of Nursing, where she continues her work in transitional care and has makes a significant contribution to the department’s End of Life research programme.

She represents the University of Birmingham on the West Midlands Paediatric Palliative Care Network, and also chairs the Gold Standards Framework Paediatric Group. This is a working group that seeks to support generalists in end-of-live care for children and their families.

She has been a member of several grant awarding panels and a reviewer for many journals.


Postgraduate supervision

Karen is interested in supervising doctoral research students in the following areas:

  • Transitional care (i.e. the movement between paediatric- and adult-orientated healthcare)
  • Paediatric palliative/end of life care:  Psychosocial aspects, Community-based care, Prognostication tools
  • Psychosocial aspects of long-term or life-shortening conditions (children, young people and families)

If you are interesting in studying any of these subject areas please contact Karen on the contact details above, or for any general doctoral research enquiries, please email: dr@contacts.bham.ac.uk or call +44 (0)121 414 5005.

For a full list of available Doctoral Research opportunities, please visit our Doctoral Research programme listings.   



Paediatric End of Life/Palliative Care, Transitional Care, Long-term Paediatric Conditions, Life-shortening conditions Adolescent Health,


End of Life care for children, young people and their families.

Karen is involved in two-strands of work in this area. One is to improve the quality of information about the needs of children and their families, and the other is to improve cross boundary working (particularly between primary and secondary care. Recent projects include a Delphi study to identify the signs and symptoms that may predict end of life in children. This established a panel of experts in paediatric palliative care and examined the extent to which consensus can be gained regarding prognostic indicators in the last 6-12 months of a child’s life, and in the last weeks/days of their life. Karen has also evaluated the Rainbow of Children’s Palliative Care Needs. This is a new classification tool to help clinicians and commissioners define and identify the needs of children with palliative care needs. This work has lead to a revised framework and user-guidelines. Finally, work is ongoing to modify the Gold Standards Framework (www.goldstandardsframework) for use with children and their families. This aims to support GPs and other members of the primary health care team to optimise their end of life care for children and families by providing them with evidence-based guidance and tools. Work to date has involved a survey of GPs to clarify their role in children’s end of life care and development of key resources. Funding is currently being sought to consolidate development of the Children’s GSF and to undertake vital pilot work.

Transitional Care.

Karen was the national co-ordinator of a multi-centre study to develop and evaluate a programme of transitional care Rheumatology. This was the first objective evaluation of a transitional care programme in any chronic condition and involved over 300 adolescents with arthritis. This was awarded the BUPA Clinical Excellence Award in 2005. Other work includes a study to examine the vocational needs of adolescents with arthritis and a multi-speciality study of satisfaction with transitional care across the paediatric/adult interface.

User involvement:

Karen has developed considerable expertise in user involvement and collaborates on a number of studies to enhance public and patient involvement. Current collaborative work involves a study to understand help-seeking behaviour in patients with new onset rheumatoid arthritis and to identify strategies to reduce delay in GP consultation. Other recent studies include study to evaluate treatment pathways for the management of children with complications of obesity and medication beliefs in South Asian patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Other activities

  • Member of the British Psychological Society
  • Member of the British Society of Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology
  • Member of the West Midlands Paediatric Palliative Care Network
  • Chair of the Gold Standards Paediatric Framework Group


Shaw, K.L., Clifford .C.C., Thomas, K., Meehan, H., (2010), A review of the Gold Standards Framework in primary care. Palliative Medicine, 24 :317-329.

Shaw, K.L., Badger, F.J., Brook, L., Brown, Z., Cuddeford, L., Thomas, K., Wallis, M., (2010), General practitioners’ involvement in children’s end of life care. Palliative Medicine, 24:196-7.

Badger, F.J., Shaw, K.L., Hewison, A., Clifford, C., Thomas, K., (2010), Gold Standards Framework in Care Homes and advance care planning, Palliative Medicine, 24 :447-448.

McDonagh, J.E., Shaw, K.L., (2009). Health care transition counseling for youth with arthritis: comment on the article by Scal et al, Arthritis Rheum, 61:1140-1141.

Sheppard, J., Kumar, K., Buckley, C.D., Shaw, K.L., Raza, K.. (2008),  'I just thought it was normal aches and pains': a qualitative study of decision-making processes in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis, Rheumatology, 47:1577-1582.

Coad, J.E., Shaw, K.L., (2008), Is children's choice in health care rhetoric or reality? A scoping review, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 64:318-327.

Higman, W., Shaw, K.L., (2008), Nurses' understanding about the delivery of family centred care in the neonatal unit, Journal of Neonatal Nursing,14:93-98.

Shaw, K.L., Southwood, T.R., McDonagh, J.E.; British Society of Paediatric and Adolescent Rheumatology, (2007), Development and preliminary validation of the 'Mind the Gap' scale to assess satisfaction with transitional health care among adolescents with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Child Care, Health and Development, 33:380-388.

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