Research Topics

Sociology of health and illness; substance use; HIV/AIDS; urban health; sociology of work and economic life; health disparities; research participation; research methods, especially longitudinal and mixed-methods research

Research Interests

My current research focuses on three areas in medical sociology, all related to exploring socio-economic and structural relationships around vulnerability, risk behaviour and health outcomes among marginalized populations. My research is predominantly conducted in partnership with the Urban Health Research Initiative of the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, which specializes in research on HIV/AIDS, addictions, and urban health.

The first area of research involves observational work emphasizing how socio-economic well being – including income, income generation and material security – influences the prevalence and experience of drug- and HIV-related harm, access to social and health services and burden of disease.

The second area involves translating findings from my observational research into applied studies focusing on social and structural interventions and their impacts on HIV- and drug use-related health risks. I’m currently the principal investigator of a project exploring the impacts of alternative social assistance disbursement on drug-related harm. This Canadian Institutes of Health Research-funded project is a mixed-methods study examining how staggering the disbursement of social assistance mitigates or potentiates escalations in drug use and drug-related harm (e.g., overdoses, emergency room admissions, public disorder) that coincide with the timing of synchronized monthly social assistance payments. It also seeks to document the experiences and financial management strategies of individuals’ whose social assistance is desynchronized as a part of this project.

The third focus is on the determinants and experiences of medical research participation among marginalized populations. My research in this area investigates the individual, social and structural factors that affect randomized controlled trial recruitment, retention, and protocol adherence as well as experiences of research participation in an emerging program of randomized controlled trials in addiction research in Vancouver. This work is funded with a grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.


*indicates student supervised co-author

Richardson, L., Kerr, T., Guillemi, S., Hogg, R., Harrigan, R., Montaner, J., Wood, E., Milloy, M-J. “Socio-economic marginalization and plasma HIV-1 RNA non-detectability among individuals who use illicit drugs in a Canadian setting.” AIDS (in press).

Richardson, L., Small, W. and Kerr, T. “Pathways linking drug use and labour market trajectories: the role of catastrophic events.” Sociology of Health and Illness (in press.)

Richardson, L. and Epp, S. Addiction, employment and the return to work. In: Schultz, I. and Gatchel, R. (Eds) Handbook of Return to Work. New York: Springer (in press).

*Phillips, M., Richardson, L., Wood, E., Nguyen, P., Kerr, T., DeBeck, K. “High intensity drug use and health service access among street-involved youth in a Canadian setting.” Substance Use and Misuse (in press).

Lyons, T., Shannon, K., Richardson, L., Simo, A., Wood, E., Kerr, T. “Women who use drugs and have sex with women in a Canadian Setting: Barriers to treatment enrolment and exposure to violence and homelessness.” Archives of Sexual Behavior (in press).

Richardson, L., *Long, C., DeBeck, K., Milloy, M-J., Wood, E., Kerr, T. (2015) “Economic marginalization in the structural production of vulnerability to violence among people who use illicit drugs.” Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 69(7): 686-692.

*Uhlmann, S., Milloy, M-J., Ahamad, K., Nguyen, P., Kerr, T., Wood, E., Richardson, L. (2015) “Factors associated with willingness to participate in an addiction treatment clinical trial among illicit drug users.” American Journal on Addictions 24(4): 268-373.

Milloy, M.J., Marshall, B., Kerr, T., Richardson, L., Hogg, R., Guillemi, S., Montaner, J.S.G., Wood, E. (2015) Cannabis use associated with lower plasma HIV-1 RNA viral load among recently infected intravenous drug users. Drug and Alcohol Review, 34(2): 135-140.

Nachega, J., Uthman, O., Peltzer, K., Richardson, L., Mills, E., Amekudzi, K., Ouédraogo, A. (2015) “The association of antiretroviral therapy adherence and employment status in men and women from low-, middle- and high-income countries: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 93(1): 29-41.

Richardson, L., DeBeck, K., Feng, C., Kerr, T. and Wood, E. (2014) Employment and risk of injection drug use initiation among street involved youth in Canadian setting. Preventive Medicine, 66: 56-59.

Zlotorzynska, M., Milloy, M.J., Richardson, L., Montaner, J, Wood, E., Kerr, T. (2014) Timing of social assistance payment and overdose patterns at a Canadian supervised injection facility. International Journal of Drug Policy, 25 (4): 736-839.

Ti L., Richardson L., DeBeck K., Nguyen P., Montaner J., Wood E., Kerr T. (2014) The Impact of Engagement in Street-based Income Generation Activities on Stimulant Drug Use Cessation among People who Inject Drugs. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 141 (1): 58-64.

Richardson, L., Milloy, M-J., Kerr, T., Parashar, S., Montaner, J.S.G. & Wood, E. (2014) Employment independently predicts decreased mortality among HIV-seropositive illicit drug users in a setting of universal HIV care. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 68: 93-96.

Richardson, L., Wood, E. and Kerr, T. (2013) The impact of social, structural and physical environmental factors on transitions into employment among people who inject drugs. Social Science & Medicine, 76: 126-133.

Richardson, L., Wood, E., Montaner, J. and Kerr, T. (2012) Addiction treatment-related employment barriers: The impact of methadone maintenance. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 43(3): 276-284.

Richardson, L. and Grund, T. (2012) Modeling the impact of supra-structural network nodes: The case of anonymous syringe sharing and HIV among people who inject drugs. Social Science Research, 41(3): 624-636.

Richardson, L., Sherman, S., and Kerr, T. (2012) Employment among people who use drugs: A new arena for research and intervention? International Journal of Drug Policy, 23: 3-5.

Richardson, L., Wood, E., Li, K., Kerr, T. (2010) Factors associated with employment among a cohort of injection drug users. Drug and Alcohol Review, 29(3): 293–300.

Richardson, L., Wood, E., Zhang, R., Montaner, J., Tyndall, M., Kerr, T. (2008) Employment among users of a medically supervised safer injection facility. American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 34(5):519-25.

MacPherson, D., Mulla, Z. and Richardson, L. (2006) The evolution of drug policy in Vancouver, Canada:  Strategies for preventing harm from psychoactive substance use. International Journal of Drug Policy, 17(2): 127-132.


Selected Research Summaries

Looking at alternative ways of distributing social assistance payments to reduce drug-related harms

Overdose deaths and income assistance: An analysis of the ‘cheque effect’

Timing of income assistance payment and overdose patterns at a Canadian supervised injection facility

Employment among people who use drugs: A new arena for research and intervention?


Community Research Postcards

The TASA Cheque Day Study

Overdose deaths and income assistance 

Income assistance and overdoses at Insite


Winter 2016

SOCI484A Sociology of Health and Illness - HEALTH & ILLNESS Sections

Sociological perspectives on health, illness, and health care as represented in classic and contemporary sociological studies of selected topics such as illness experience, social aspects of the practice of health professionals, training of health professionals, and the social organization of health delivery systems.

Sociology of Health and Illness (SOCI 484)


D.Phil., Sociology, University of Oxford, 2012

M.Phil., Sociology, University of Oxford, 2008

B.A., English (Honours) and International Relations, University of British Columbia, 2001

Other Affiliations

Research Scientist, Urban Health Research Initiative at the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Affiliate Investigator, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute

Lindsey Richardson is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at UBC. Prior to commencing her appointment in 2014, she was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow in UBC’s Division of AIDS in the Faculty of Medicine and with the British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.

Lindsey is a medical sociologist specializing in socio-economic determinants of health among people living with or at risk of HIV infection who also use illicit drugs. Her mixed-methods research links observational, intervention and research participation studies in efforts to critically increase understandings of the determinants and consequences of socio-economic security for health among vulnerable populations in urban settings. Her research has been published in journals such as AIDSSocial Science and Medicine, the Journal of Epidemiology and Community HealthSociology of Health and Illnessthe International Journal of Drug Policy, Social Science ResearchPreventive Medicine , and the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment.

Lindsey worked on social development as well as health and drug policy for the Government of Canada and the City of  Vancouver prior to returning to academia in 2006.

Lindsey is currently supported by a five-year Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research Career Scholar Award (2014-2019) and a Canadian Institutes of Health Research New Investigator Award (2015-2020). Previous, her research was supported by a Post-doctoral Fellowship from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and doctoral awards from the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and Nuffield College as well as a University of Oxford Clarendon Scholarship.