Dr Katie Powell BA, MA, PhD           

Research Fellow


Section of Public Health
School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR)
University of Sheffield
Regent Court
30 Regent Street
S1 4DA

Office:  Room G045, Ground Floor, Regent Court

Tel:  +44 (0) 114 222 6120
Fax: +44 (0) 114 222 0749

email: k.powell@sheffield.ac.uk

ORCiD: 0000-0001-8936-9661


My commitment to the interdisciplinary study of health inequality emerges from a background in regional studies and a developed specialism in Sociology.  I originally developed an interest in social inequality through the study of race and ethnicity in the context of North America (completing an interdisciplinary BA in American and Canadian Studies at the Universities of Birmingham and California, 2003).  In 2007 I trained as a Sociologist at the University of Manchester, developing the skills to apply broader theoretical frameworks to the examination of social inequality.  I joined the Centre for Public Health Research at the University of Chester as a Researcher in February 2007 where I developed a broad range of evaluation skills in the context of community-based, policy-based and population-based interventions.  I completed a PhD in 2013 applying process sociology to understand the implementation of place-based inequality interventions.  I joined ScHARR in December 2011 as a Research Fellow in Public Health. 

Research Interests

I have three major interlinked research interests.

  1. Exploring processes of inequity as they relate to health with reference to the role of place and social spaces.
  2. The implementation and evaluation of community-based health improvement interventions.
  3. Networks of social interdependency and their influence on health.

I have an interest in the ways in which reproduction of disadvantage and deprivation can be influenced by social interventions.  I am particularly interested in the ways in which health inequalities are shaped by social networks of interdependency and how this influences conceptualisations of 'place' and its relation to health.  I have a broader interest in experiences of inequality influenced by socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender and disability.  I am interested in participatory action research as a means for influencing social change.

I am currently involved in a range of projects relating to health inequality across the national School for Public Health Research funded by the National Institute for Health Research, examining children and young people's health and place-based inequalities.  I also lead the evaluation of TimeBuilders, a time-credits system in Sheffield and am contributing to the development of community evaluation methods across the city.

Teaching Interests

I currently teach on the Masters of Public Health within the School of Health and Related Research.

PhD Supervision

Viola Casseti:  Asset-based approaches to promote health and reduce inequalities between neighbourhoods: A qualitative theory-based investigation of two case studies.  Funded by the University of Sheffield doctoral Academy Scholarship.

Hibbah Saeed:  An exploration of dietary practices and associated factors amongst Ghanaians living in Europe.

I am interested in supporting research students in the areas of community interventions, place-based inequalities, participatory evaluation, and the work of the community and voluntary sector organisations in the field of health.

 Professional Activities

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2016
  • Sheffield Senate Award winner (2014) for Collaborative Activities for the production of the University of Sheffield's first set of Massive Open Online Courses
  • Member of the British Sociological Association
  • Member of the Health Equity and Inclusion Research Group
  • Member of the Politics of Health Group Steering Group
  • Visiting Lecturer in Public Health at Hedmark University College, Norway


Bissell P, Peacock M, Holdsworth M, Powell K, Wilcox J. and Clonan, A. (2018). Introducing the idea of 'assumed shared food narratives' in the context of social networks: reflections from a qualitative study conducted in Nottingham, England.   Sociology of Health and Illness, 40: 1142-1155. doi:10.1111/1467-9566.12746

Lewis S, Bambra C, Barnes A, Collins M, Egan M, Halliday E, Orton L, Ponsford R, Powell K, Salway S, Townsend A, Whitehead M, Popay J.  (2018) Reframing "participation" and "inclusion" in pulic health policy and practice to address health inequalities: Evidence from a major resident-led neighbourhood improvement initiative.  Health and Social Care in the Community.  DOI:10.1111/hsc.12640

Powell K, Thurston M & Bloyce D. (2017)  Theorising lifestyle drift in health promotion: explaining community and voluntary sector engagement practices in disadvantaged areas.  Critical Public Health, published online July 24, 2017.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09581596.2017.1356909

Green J, Buckner S, Millton, Powell K, Salway S, Moffatt S.  (2017) A model of how targeted and universal welfare entitlements impact on material, psycho-social and structural determinants of health in older adults.  Social Science and Medicine published online June 15.

Holdsworth M, Nicolaou M, Langøien LJ, Osei-Kwasi HA, Chastin SFM, Stok M, Capranica L, Lien N,
Terragni, L, Monsivais P, Mazzocchi M, Maes L, Roos G, Mejean C, Powell K and Stronks, K.
(2017). Developing a systems-based framework of the factors influencing dietary and physical activity behaviours in ethnic minority populations living in Europe - a DEDIPAC study

Araba Osei-Kwasi H, Powell K, Nicolaou M, Holdsworth M. (2017) The influence of migration on dietary practices of Ghanaians living in the United Kingdom: a qualitative study.  Annals of Human biology, 44, 5.

Orton L, Halliday E, Collins M, Egan M, Lewis S, Ponsford R, Powell K, Salway S, Townsend A, Whitehead M & Popay J. 2016. Putting context centre stage: evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England. Critical Public Health.

Hibbah A O, Nicolaou M, Powell K, Terragni L, Maes L, Stronks K, Lien N, Holdsworth M. 2016. Systematic mapping review of the factors influencing dietary behaviour in ethnic minority groups living in Europe: a DEDIPAC study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 13:85

Powell K, Wilcox J, Clonan A, Bissell P, Preston L, Peacock M, Holdsworth M.  (2015)
The role of social networks in the development of overweight and obesity among adults: a scoping review.  BMC Public Health, 15, 996

Milton A, Buckner S, Salway S, Powell K, Moffatt S, Green J. (2015) Understanding welfare conditionality in the context of a generational habitus: A qualitative study of older citizens in England.   Journal of Ageing Studies, 34, 113-122.

Powell K, Thurston M & Bloyce D. (2014) Local status and power in area-based health improvement partnerships.
Health, 18(3)

Practitioner Publications

Salway S, Carter L, Powell K, Turner D, Mir G, Ellison GTH. (2014). Race equality and health inequalities: Towards more integrated policy and practice.  Better Health briefing paper 32.  Race Equality Foundation.

Ward F, Powell K & Thurston M.  RESPECT:  A personal development programme for young people at risk of social exclusion.  (2008) On the Streets Impact Report.  Chester: University of Chester, Centre for Public Health Research.

Powell K & Thurston M.  Commissioning training for behaviour change interventions: evidence and best practice in delivery.  (2008) Chester: University of Chester, Centre for Public Health Research.

Ward F, Powell K, Thurston M & Cleary P. Use and experiences of front-line health services amongst Black and Minority Ethnic residents of Western Cheshire. (2008) Chester: University of Chester, Centre for Public Health Research.

Powell K, Perry C & Thurston M.  The National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme in Cheshire and Merseyside: perspectives of people with a sensory impairment.  (2008) Chester: University of Chester, Centre for Public Health Research.

Ward F, Powell K & Thurston M.  Understanding the impact of the Cheshire Children's Fund: findings from 11 family case studies.  (2007) Chester: University of Chester, Centre for Public Health Research.

Powell K, Perry C & Alford S.  Sure Start Widnes Children's Centres: an evaluation of a new programme.  (2007) Chester: University of Chester, Centre for Public Health Research.

Conference Presentations

Powell K. Conditional and Universal Welfare Benefits in the UK: Social Framings of Entitlement and the Implications for Wellbeing and Inequalities in Health. 3rd ISA Forum of Sociology, July 15, 2016, Vienna.

Powell K, Buckley-Woods H, Rimmer M.  Developing a methods-based peer support network for supervisors.  Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Teaching Circle, Sheffield, 6 June 2016.

Powell K.  Empowering spaces for participation in area-based initiatives.  Presentation as part of Theorising processes of change in a community control area-based initiative:  exploring the potential for reducing health inequalities a special symposium at the British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Conference, 9 September, 2015, York.

Powell K.  Older people's understandings of universal and conditional entitlement to welfare benefits: a qualitative study in England.  Presentation to the European Public Health Association conference, 24 November 2014, Glasgow.

Powell K.  Rethinking Social Exclusion:  Using Figurational Sociology to better understand why people living in More Socio-economically Deprived Areas Experience Worse Health.  Presentation to the British Sociological Associaion Annual Medical Sociology Conference, 12 September 2014, Birmingham.

Powell K & Miller L.  (2014)  distance Learning, MOOCs and other products:   What can your organisation offer abroad?  Presentation to the International Student Recruitment Conference, 12 February, London.

Blackmore C, Miller M & Powell K.  (2014)  The University of Sheffield's first MOOCs.  How did they go?  Presentation to the University of Sheffield Learning and Teaching Conference, 7 February, Sheffield.

Powell K & Miller L.  (2013)  To MOOC or not to MOOC?  Presentation to the Online EDUCA International Conference on Technology and Supported Learning Training, 3 December, Berlin.

Powell K.  Theorising processes of social change in an area-based health initiative: a developmental and relational approach.  (2013)  Presentation to the British Sociological Association Annual Medical Sociology Conference, University of York.

Powell K, Wilcox J, Holdsworth M, Clonan A, Bissell P & Preston L.
Do your friends make you fat?  The role of social networks in the development of obesity - a scoping review.  (2013) International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 22-25 May, Ghent (Belgium).

Clonan A, Powell K, Peacock M, Wilcox J, Bissell P & Holdsworth M.  Exploring how social networks influence weight behaviours in socially deprived communities. (2013) International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 22-25 May, Ghent (Belgium).

Powell K, Wilcox J, Holdsworth M, Clonan A, Bissell P, Preston L.  Do your friends make you fat? The role of social networks in the development of obesity - a scoping review.  (2013)  European Congress of Obesity, 12-15th May, Liverpool.      

Powell K.  A figurational analysis of an area-based health initiative:  A vehicle for social change?  (2011, 8 April) Presentation delivered to the British Sociological Association Annual Conference, London School of Economics.

Powell K.  Area-based initiatives as a vehicle for social change:  Assessing the scope for health improvement.
(2010, 24 March) Paper presented at the 18th UKPHA Annual Public Health Forum Conference, Bournemouth.

Thurston M, Powell K.
Delivering evidence-based behaviour change interventions: A model that works?  (2009, 25 March) Paper presented at the 17th UKPHA Annual Public Health Forum Conference, Brighton.

Ward F, Powell K & Thurston M.  The impact evaluation of the RESPECT Programme.  (2008, 4 November) Paper presented at the RESPECT Conference, Chester.

Thurston M, Powell K & Perry C.  Recruiting the 'hard to reach': Involving sensory impaired people in research.
(2007, 29 November) Paper presented at the 10th Annual Conference of the UK Federation of Primary Care Research Networks, Cambridge.