Mobilising knowledge from lived experiences to tackle inequalities

About this research and why it is a public health priority

Public health has long recognised that communities – groups of people sharing common interests – are the social and cultural settings for, and essential partners in, action to promote health and reduce inequalities.  In this context, Public Health England has advocated for “community centred public health” approaches that involve local people in designing and delivering system wide actions to ‘create healthier places’.   We have established a body of world-leading research mobilising knowledge from lived experiences to reduce social and health inequalities.  

Research Highlights and selected impacts

  • The Communities in Control study is a longitudinal evaluation of the largest community empowerment initiative in the UK, involving 150 English communities. Initially funded by the NIHR School for Public Health Research and now by the NIHR Public Health Research Programme it is led by LiLaC researchers and involves collaboration between five universities.  
  • Co-produced research funded by the North West Coast ARC with residents and local organisations resulted in action on a range of issues affecting quality of life and health (e.g. debt, air pollution) in ten neighbourhoods in north west England. 
  • Research in the ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science has influenced professional understandings and practices and improved communication practices with patients and the public about vaccines, cancer and patient NHS feedback. 
  • Our coproduced evaluations have strengthened the evidence base and public health research capacity at the local level, showing how design interventions and digital technology producing “smarter” urban environments can promote health.  
  • The global ‘COVID-19: The Other Front Line’ Alliance, collating narratives from people hardest hit by COVID-19, is informing the World Health Organisation (WHO) Europe’s Nobody Left Outside initiative.  

Selected publications

Popay J. Whitehead M. Ponsford R, Egan, M. Mead, R; (2020) Power, Control, Communities and Health Inequalities Part I: Theories, Concepts and Frameworks Resubmission under review Health Promotion International, 2020 daaa133, 

Ponsford, R, Collins M, Egan M, Halliday E, et al, Power, control, communities and health inequalities. Part II: measuring shifts in power, Health Promotion International, 2020, daaa019 [e-pub ahead of print],  

Powell K, Barnes A, Anderson de Cuevas R, Bambra C, Halliday E, Lewis S, McGill R, Orton L, Ponsford R, Salway S, Townsend A. Power, control, communities and health inequalities III: participatory spaces—an English case. Health Promotion International, 2020, daaa059 [e-pub ahead of print], 

Halliday E, Collins M, Egan M, Ponsford R, Scott C, Popay J. A ‘strategy of resistance’? How can a place-based empowerment programme influence local media portrayals of neighbourhoods and what are the implications for tackling health inequalities? Health and Place. 2020 May 31;63. 102353. 

Townsend A, Abraham C, Barnes A, Collins M, Halliday E, Lewis S et al. “I realised it weren’t about spending the money. It’s about doing something together”: the role of money in a community empowerment initiative and the implications for health and wellbeing. Social Science & Medicine. 2020;1;260. 113176. 

Popay J and A Porroche Escudero, ‘United Kingdom (England). Supporting local systems to tackle the social determinants of health inequalities’ in World Health Organisation, Health 2020 priority area four: creating supportive environments and resilient communities. A compendium of inspirational examples (2018)  

Semino E, Demjen Z, Demmen J, Koller V, Payne S, Hardie A et al. The online use of Violence and Journey metaphors by patients with cancer, as compared with health professionals: a mixed methods study. BMJ Supportive and Palliative Care. 2017 Mar 1;7(1):60-66.