Professor of Behavioural Epidemiology
areas of expertise
Professor Karen Hughes is a Professor of Behavioural Epidemiology at the Centre for Public Health. Her research focuses on violence prevention and health and behaviour in nightlife environments. Karen leads the Centre’s work programme as a World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Violence Prevention, developing intelligence on the extent and impacts of violence; reviewing the evidence base for what works to prevent violence; and increasing access to the knowledge and skills required to implement effective prevention. Karen collaborates in a series of European research networks and projects examining nightlife behaviours, evaluating interventions and synthesising evidence of effective prevention. She has published a wide range of peer reviewed journal articles and reports and has acted as an expert advisor to the World Health Organization and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.
Professor Karen Hughes's Publications
Alcohol’s harms to others: the harms from other people’s alcohol consumption in Wales
Internationally, there is growing recognition of the harms that an individual’s alcohol consumption can cause to those around them (referred to as alcohol’s harms to others). Consequently, research into this issue has started to emerge highlighting the nature, extent and costs of alcohol’s harms to others across various populations. This report looks at the harms from other people’s alcohol consumption in Wales.
Niwed Alcohol I Eraill: y niwed oherwydd defnydd pobl eraill o alcohol yng Nghymru
Yn rhyngwladol, mae cydnabyddiaeth gynyddol o’r niwed y gall defnydd unigolyn o alcohol ei achosi i’r rheiny o’u hamgylch (cyfeirir at hyn fel niwed alcohol i eraill). O ganlyniad, mae ymchwil i’r mater hwn wedi dechrau dod i’r amlwg gan amlygu natur, graddau a chostau niwed alcohol i eraill ar draws poblogaethau amrywiol.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in Hertfordshire, Luton and Northamptonshire
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) include a range of stressful events that children may be exposed to growing up, including: physical, sexual or emotional childhood abuse; family breakdown; exposure to domestic violence; or living in a household affected by substance misuse, mental illness or where someone is incarcerated. A growing body of research has identified that individuals’ childhood experiences are fundamental in determining their future health and social prospects, with ACEs being one of the strongest predictors of poor health and social outcomes in adults.
A cross-sectional survey of 5,454 adults, aged 18-69 years resident in Hertfordshire, Luton and Northamptonshire identified that a substantial proportion of the adult population suffered abuse, neglect or other household dysfunction during their childhood. At least four in ten (44.4%) adults have experienced one or more ACEs and almost one in ten (9.1%) have suffered four or more. The prevalence of individual ACEs ranges from 3.1% of residents reporting living with someone who was incarcerated, to 22.9% experiencing verbal abuse by a parent or adult in their home during their childhood.
The findings of this research support existing international evidence on ACEs, which reveal a cumulative impact of ACEs; an increasing risk of poor health and social outcomes with increasing number of ACEs suffered. Exposure to ACEs has had a major impact on the development of health-harming behaviours (e.g. smoking and binge drinking), health service use (e.g. staying a night in hospital), health outcomes (such as being diagnosed with a sexually transmitted infection [STI] or chronic disease), as well as low mental wellbeing and life satisfaction. The findings of this report indicate that ACEs had a clear impact on low mental wellbeing and life satisfaction in the study population. Low mental wellbeing and life satisfaction are linked to increased uptake in health-harming behaviour which are in turn, associated with the development of disease and contribute towards increased risk of premature morbidity, combating ACEs should therefore form a significant investment for the study areas.
The availability of local data on ACEs and their impacts on multi-agency priorities allows partnerships to work together to obtain the greatest benefits from shared resources. The findings from this study can make a substantial contribution to supporting practice in Hertfordshire, Luton and Northamptonshire, helping partners break cycles of adversity and improve public health.
Individual infographics relating to this report can be accessed below:
Broxbourne, Corby, Dacorum, Daventry, East Hertfordshire, East Northamptonshire, Herstmere, Hertfordshire, Kettering, Luton, North Hertfordshire, Northampton, Northamptonshire, South Northamptonshire, St Albans, Stevenage, Three Rivers, Watford, Wellingborough, Welwyn Hatfield
Professor Karen Hughes's Papers
The impact of adverse childhood experiences on health service use across the life course using a retrospective cohort study.
Mark Bellis, Professor Karen Hughes, Katie Hardcastle, Kat Ford, Dr Zara Quigg, Alisha Davies
JOURNAL OF HEALTH SERVICES RESEARCH & POLICY, 22(3), 168-177. doi:10.1177/1355819617706720, 2017.
Abstract: The lifelong health impacts of adverse childhood experiences are increasingly being identified, including earlier and more frequent development of non-communicable disease. Our aim was to examine whether adverse childhood experiences are related to increased use of primary, emergency and in-patient care and at what ages such impact is apparent.
Does continuous trusted adult support in childhood impart life-course resilience against adverse childhood experiences – a retrospective study on adult health-harming behaviours and mental well-being.
BMC PSYCHIATRY, 17, 12 pages. doi:10.1186/s12888-017-1260-z, 2017.
Abstract: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) including child abuse and household problems (e.g. domestic violence) increase risks of poor health and mental well-being in adulthood. Factors such as having access to a trusted adult as a child may impart resilience against developing such negative outcomes. How much childhood adversity is mitigated by such resilience is poorly quantified. Here we test if access to a trusted adult in childhood is associated with reduced impacts of ACEs on adoption of health-harming behaviours and lower mental well-being in adults.
Violence-related ambulance call-outs in the North West of England: a cross-sectional analysis of nature, extent and relationships to temporal, celebratory and sporting events.
Dr Zara Quigg, Dr Ciara McGee, Professor Karen Hughes, Simon Russell, Mark Bellis
EMERGENCY MEDICINE JOURNAL, 34(6), 364-369. doi:10.1136/emermed-206081, 2017.
Abstract: To explore the potential of ambulance call-out data in understanding violence to inform prevention activity.
- Published 6 February 2015
- Tagged Violence and unintentional injury