Professor Paul Bissell


School of Health and Related Research

Honorary Professor of Public Health

Full contact details

Professor Paul Bissell
School of Health and Related Research
Regent Court (ScHARR)
30 Regent Street
S1 4DA

I am now Dean of the School of Human and Health Sciences at the University of Huddersfield and an Honorary Professor of Public Health at the School of Health & Related Research (ScHARR). 

I studied politics and sociology as an undergraduate (BA Econ), then completed an MA (Econ) in Applied Social Research and subsequently, a PhD in medical sociology, all at the University of Manchester.  I worked as a contract researcher on various public health (University of Salford) and public policy projects (Universities of Manchester and Cardiff) from 1988 to 2001 before getting a lectureship in social pharmacy at the University of Nottingham (2001 - 2006). 

O then returned to Public Health in ScHARR at The University of Sheffield in 2006.  At the risk of sounding disingenuous, ScHARR (and The University of Sheffield) is far and away the most pleasurable academic institution I've worked in simply because there remains a strong commitment to interdisciplinary, high-quality research and teaching as ways of shaping the outside world. 

Whilst at Sheffield, I had a number of roles. I was the Director of the Master of Public Health course as I came into post (2008-2010) and was also the Director of the Erasmus Mundus EuroPubHealth programme.

Research interests

As a researcher, I work at the intersections between health services research, public health and medical sociology.  In relation to the former, I have been involved in numerous studies of pharmacy practice and medicines management.  These include one of the largest evaluations of medicines management services provided by community pharmacies (with colleagues in Aberdeen and Keele Universities), the supply of emergency contraception (with colleagues in Nottingham University) and supplementary prescribing by pharmacists and nurses (again with colleagues from Nottingham and Flinders University).  I have an enduring curiosity with what people do with their medicines and am interested in using narrative approaches to shine a more psycho-socially informed light on medication practices.  My interest in narrative dovetails with a longstanding concern which focuses on understanding lay accounts of health and illness, as well as more embodied and biographically informed dimensions of health, illness and its treatment.

I now work in public health.  Health inequalities, the broader determinants of health as they connect with issues around distributional justice have long interested me and were a major reason for getting interested in medical sociology.  In recent years, I have sought to research how lay people account for the ways in which social inequality gets under the skin.  This also connects with an interest in explaining why we see a clear social gradient in various public health orientated topics (like obesity, exercise, physical inactivity etc) and connecting this to issues around social class, socio-economic position and prevailing discourses of neo-liberalism.

Current projects:

I am the Principal Investigator for the Healthy Weight Theme for the NIHR funded CLAHRC (Collaborations for Leadership and Applied Research in Health Care) for Yorkshire and Humber.

I am PI for a Work Package for Innovage (EU, FP7 funded), exploring inter-generational interventions to support healthy ageing and impact on physical inactivity in the EU.

I am PI for a qualitative project funded by North Derbyshire PCT exploring food practices and cooking skills amongst older bereaved men.

I am PI for a psycho-socially informed qualitative study looking at exploring the social gradient in food practices amongst disadvantaged families living in South Yorkshire, funded by the NIHR CLAHRC for South Yorkshire.

I am also the PI (The University of Sheffield) on a qualitative project looking at the feasibility of using the free association narrative interview method for exploring the onset and experience on non-epileptic attack disorder.

Professional activities

I am currently a member of the British Sociological Association and a member of the Deans and Directors group for ASPHER (Association of School's of Public Health European Region).