Dr. Karla Wagner

Karla Wagner 

Karla Wagner, Ph.D., conducts mixed methods behavioral research that focuses on the prevention of negative health outcomes associated with injection drug use, especially HIV, viral hepatitis, and fatal overdose. She has worked with syringe exchange programs in New York and Los Angeles, and has been involved in the development and ongoing evaluation of an overdose prevention training program for injection drug users in Los Angeles. Her current project will investigate the social network factors associated with HIV risk behavior among drug-using male clients of female sex workers in Tijuana, Mexico. Dr. Wagner earned a Master’s degree in Anthropology from Northern Arizona University, and a Ph.D. in Preventive Medicine (Health Behavior Research) from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.


"Wider Availability of Naloxone Could Help Curb Drug Overdose Epidemic," KPBS features Karla Wagner, PhD

Los Angeles' Skid Row Study on Naloxone by Karla Wagner, PhD

Selected Peer-reviewed Publications:

  1. Khan, A.J., Simard, E.P., Bower, W.A., Wurtzel, H.L., Khristova, M., Wagner, K.D., Arnold, K.E., Nainan, O.V., LaMarre, M., Bell, B.P. (2005). Ongoing transmission of hepatitis B virus infection among inmates at a state correctional facility. American Journal of Public Health. 95(10): 1793-1799. PMCID: 1449438
  2. Wagner, K.D., Ritt-Olson, A., Soto, D., Unger, J.B. (2008). Variation in family structure among urban adolescents and its effects on drug use. Substance Use & Misuse. 43(7): 936-951.
  3. Wagner, K.D., Ritt-Olson, A., Soto, D.W., Rodriguez, Y.L., Baezconde-Garbanati, L., Unger, J.B. (2008). The role of acculturation, parenting, and family in Hispanic/Latino adolescent substance use: Findings from a qualitative analysis. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse. 7(3): 304-327. PMCID: 2577589
  4. Wagner, K.D., Valente, T.W., Casanova, M., Partovi, S.M., Mendenhall, B.M., Hundley, J.H., Gonzalez, M., Unger, J.B. (2009) Evaluation of an overdose prevention and response training programme for injection drug users in the Skid Row Area of Los Angeles, California. International Journal of Drug Policy. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2009.01.003
  5.  Wagner, K.D., Hudson, S.H., Latka, M.H., Strathdee, S., Thiede, H., Mackesey-Amiti, M.E., Garfein, R.S. (2009). The effect of intimate partner violence on receptive syringe sharing among young female injection drug users: an analysis of mediation effects. AIDS and Behavior. 13 (2): 217- 24. Epub 2007 Sep18. doi:10.1007/s10461-007-9309-5.
  6. Wagner, K.D., Brief, D., Vielhauer, M., Sussman, S., Keane, T., & Malow, R. (2009) The potential for PTSD, substance use and HIV risk behavior among adolescents exposed to Hurricane Katrina. Substance Use and Misuse. 44(12): 1749-1767. doi: 10.3109/10826080902963472. PMID: 19895305
  7. Wagner, K.D., Ritt-Olson, A., Chou, C-P., Pokhrel, P., Duan, L., Baezconde-Garbanati, L., Soto, D.W., Unger, J.B. (2010) Associations between parental family structure, family functioning, and substance use among Hispanic/Latino Adolescents. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. 24(1): 98-108. doi:10.1037/a0018497 PMCID: 2849874
  8. Wagner, K.D., Unger, J.B., Bluthenthal, R., Andreeva, V.A., Pentz, M.A. (2010) Cognitive behavioral theories used to explain injection risk behavior among injection drug users: A review and suggestions for the integration of cognitive and environmental models. Health Education and Behavior. 37(4): 504-532. doi:10.1177/1090198109357319. PMCID: 3084153
  9. Lankenau S.L., Wagner K.D., Jackson Bloom, J, Sanders B, Hathazi D., Shin, C. (2010) The First Injection Event: Differences among Heroin, Methamphetamine, Cocaine, and Ketamine Initiates. Journal of Drug Issues. 40(2): 241-262. PMCID:3059319
  10. Wagner, K.D., Lankenau, S.E., Palinkas, L.A., Richardson, J.L., Chou, C-P., Unger, J.B. (2010) The Perceived Consequences of Safer Injection: An Exploration of Qualitative Findings and Gender Differences. Psychology, Health & Medicine. 15(5): 560-73. PMCID:2939721
  11. Wagner, K.D., Pollini, R.A., Patterson, T.L., Lozada, M.R., Ojeda, V.D., Brouwer, K.C., Vera, A., Volkmann, T.A., Steffanie, S.A., (2011) Cross-border Drug Injection Relationships Among Injection Drug Users in Tijuana, Mexico. Drug and Alcohol Dependence: 112(2-3):236-241 (epub 2010 Oct 1). doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.08.009 PMCID:3025041
  12. Goldenberg, S., Strathdee, S.A., Gallardo, M., Rhodes, T., Wagner, K.D., Patterson, T.L. (2011) “Over here, it’s just drugs, women and all the madness”: The HIV Risk Environment of Clients of Female Sex Workers in Tijuana, Mexico. Social Science & Medicine. 72(7):1185-92. PMCID:3075317
  13. Wagner, K.D., Lankenau, S.E., Palinkas, La., Richardson, J.L., Chou, C-P., Unger, J.B. (2011) The Influence of the Perceived Consequences of Refusing to Share Injection Equipment Among Injection Drug Users: Balancing Competing Risks. Addictive Behaviors. 36: 835-843 (epub: 25 March 2011) doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.03.014 PMCID:3098341
  14. *Volkmann, T., Shin, S.S., Garfein, R.S., Patterson, T.L., Pollini, R.A., Wagner, K.D., Artamanova, I., Strathdee, S.A. (2011) Border Crossing to Inject Drugs in Mexico Among Injection Drug Users in San Diego, California. Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. 113(2-3): 236-241 doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2010.08.009 PMCID:3163238 (epub: 26 March 2011) 
  15. Wagner, K. D., Davidson, P. J., Pollini, R. A., Strathdee, S. A., Washburn, R., & Palinkas, L. A. (2011). Reconciling Incongruous Qualitative and Quantitative Findings in Mixed Methods Research: Exemplars from Research with Drug Using Populations. International Journal of Drug Policy, (epub: 15 June 2011) doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2011.05.009 PMCID: (pending)
  16. Morris, M.D., Lemus, H., Wagner, K.D., Martinez, G., Lozada, R., Gómez, M.G.R., Strathdee, S.A. (2012). Factors Associated with Pathways Toward Concurrent Sex Work and Injection Drug Use Among Female Sex Workers Who Inject Drugs in Northern Mexico. Addiction. (epub: 6 Jul 2012) doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2012.04016.x.
  17. Lankenau, S., Wagner, K., Silva, K., Kecojevic, Al, Iverson, E., McNeeley, M., & Kral, H. (2012). Injection Drug Users Trained by Overdose Prevention Programs: Responses to Witnessed Overdoses. Journal of Community Health. (epub: 31 Jul 2012) doi: 10.1007/s10900-012-9591-7
  18. Wagner, K.D., Iverson, E., Wong, C.F., Jackson-Bloom, J., McNeeley, M., Davidson, P.J., McCarty, C., Kral, A.H., Lankenau, S.E. (in press - 2012) Personal Social Network Factors Associated with Overdose Prevention Training Participation. Substance Use & Misuse. 48.
  19. Wagner, K.D., Moynihan, M.J., Strathdee, S.A., Cuevas-Mota, J., Clark, M., Zuniga, M.L., Volkmann, T.A., Teshale, E., Garfein, R.S. (in press - 2012) The Social and Environmental Context of Cross-border Drug Use in Mexico: Findings from a Mixed Methods Study of Young IDUs Living in San Diego, CA. Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse.

Research Projects:

  1. Sex/Drug Tourism at the US/Mexico Border: Social Network Influences on HIV Risk. Funding source: NIDA K01-DA031031
  2. Personal Networks of FSW-IDUs and their male partners: Broadening the context of HIV prevention: UCSD Center for AIDS RESEARCH (CFAR) Developmental Grant (Feb 2012-Feb 2013)

Courses Taught:

  1. MED231 – An Introduction to Mixed Methods Research (Winter Quarter)