Paul Bissell BA MA PhD

Honorary Professor of Public Health

Paul Bissell

Section of Public Health, ScHARR
The University of Sheffield
Regent Court, 30 Regent Street
Sheffield     S1 4DA
United Kingdom

email :


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).  I 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.

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).

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.

Key Publications

  • Peacock M, Bissell P, Owen J. (2014) Dependency denied: health inequalities in the neo-liberal era.  Social Science & Medicine 118  173-180
  • Peacock M, Bissell P, Owen J.  Shaming encounters: reflections on contemporary understandings of social inequality and health.  Sociology 48 (2), 387-402        
  • Relton C,, Li J, Strong M, Holdsworth M, Cooper R, Green M, Bissell P.  (2014) Deprivation, clubs and drugs: results of a UK regional population-based cross-sectional study of weight management strategies.  BMC Public Health 14 (10), 444.
  • Thompson J, Bissell P, Cooper C, Armitage CJ, Barber R.  (2014) PPI in cancer research settings: exploring the impact on those involved.  Qualitative Health Research 24 (1) 46-54.
  • Thompson J, Bissell P, Cooper C, Armitage CJ, Barber R. (2012) Credibility and the 'professionalised' lay expert.  Health: 16(6) 602-616.
  • Bacigalupo R, Cudd P, Littlewood C, Bissell P, Hawley MS, Buckley-Woods H. (2013)  Interventions employing mobile technology and obesity: an early systematic review of randomised controlled trials.  Obesity Reviews 14(3) 279-291.
  • Cooper R J, Bissell P, Ward P, Murphy E, on behalf of the Supplementary Prescribing evaluations team. (2011)  Further challenges to medical dominance? The case of nurse and pharmacist supplementary prescribing Health: 16(2) 115-133.
  • Ryan K, Bissell P, & Alexander J. (2010) Moral work in women’s narratives of breastfeeding. Social Science and Medicine 70(6) 951-958.
  • Norreslet M, Bissell P, Morgall-Traulsen J. (2009) From consumerism to active dependence: patterns of medicines use and treatment decisions amongst patients with atopic dermatitis. Health: 14(1) 1-16.
  • Cooper R, Bissell P, Wingfield J. (2009) Islands and doctors’ tools: the ethical significance of isolation and passivity in community pharmacy. Health: 13(3): 297-313.
  • Howard R, Avery A, Bissell P. (2008) The underlying causes of preventable drug related hospital admissions: a qualitative study. Quality and Safety in Health Care 17(2).
  • Clark H, Goyder E, Bissell P (2007) How do parents’ child feeding behaviours influence child weight? Journal of Public Health 29(2): 132-141.
  • Bissell P, Ryan K, Morecroft C. (2006) Narratives about medicines: a neglected area of research for pharmacy practice research (Part 1). Pharmacy World and Science 28(2):54-60.
  • Bissell P & Morgall Traulsen J. (2005) Sociology and Pharmacy Practice, London: Pharmaceutical Press.
  • Bissell P, Anderson C. (2005) Enhanced access to emergency contraception. Lancet 365: 1668-1770.
  • Bissell P, May CR, Noyce PR. (2004) From compliance to concordance: barriers to accomplishing a reframed model of health care interactions. Social Science and Medicine 58: 851-862.
  • Bissell P, Anderson C. (2003) Supplying emergency contraception via community pharmacies in the UK: reflections on the experiences of providers and users. Social Science and Medicine 57(12):2367-2378.