Dr Lois Orton

BSc Hons Imperial College, MSc UCL, PhD Manchester

Department of Sociological Studies

Senior Research Fellow


Dr Lois Orton
Profile picture of Dr Lois Orton

Full contact details

Dr Lois Orton
Department of Sociological Studies
The Wave
2 Whitham Road
S10 2AH

Lois joined the Department of Sociological Studies in June 2020, having previously worked at the University of Liverpool (Public Health & Policy). Her PhD at the University of Manchester (2006-2009) was an ethnographic study of the health experiences of people seeking asylum and living with HIV in the north of England. Lois’ research questions the way we understand inequalities in health, particularly as experienced by migrant and ethnic minority groups. Recent work has involved developing critical methodologies that help us think differently about the ‘problem’ of ‘Roma health’ and the types of knowledge that inform how it is understood/addressed.

Research interests

Roma populations and health inequalities: deconstructing a European policy problem
Wellcome Trust University Award 2020 – 2026

Using creative approaches in partnership with Roma populations in England and Hungary to explore how Roma knowledge might challenge currently privileged policy understandings of their health.

Feasibility study and pilot trial of an evidence-based low intensity psychosocial intervention delivered by lay therapists for asylum seekers and refugees (PROSPER)
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme 2018 – 2020

Exploring the process of embedding a community-based mental health support system for people who are seeking asylum in the UK.

What are the health and health inequalities impacts of the Big Local community empowerment initiative in England?
National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Public Health Research Programme 2018 – 2021

Developing innovative ethnographic approaches to map pathways to health inequalities and their social determinants of a natural policy experiment in collective control among excluded communities in England.

Teaching interests

Lois’ research and teaching are closely aligned, focusing on the theory and practical application of a range of complementary methods drawn from sociology, political science and history to explore the avoidable differences in health between different groups in society (health inequalities). Methodologically, there is a focus on complexity theory, ethnography and critical policy studies. Substantive topics include the intersection of three main axes of inequality: race/ethnicity, gender and poverty and, within this, on the role of power/control as an underlying social determinant of health. 

Lois has particular experience in teaching on the experiences of migrants (refugees, and people seeking asylum) and ethnic minorities (European Roma communities) as a lens to understand the complex processes that generate (and mitigate) health inequalities.

Teaching activities

Postgraduate supervision

Lois has supervised Masters and PhD students in a range of social science projects exploring pathways to and from health inequalities among various disadvantaged groups (ethnic minorities, those living in excluded communities, older people).

She is particularly interested to hear from prospective students whose research explores the intersection of health and social science with a focus on inequality and critical methodologies.


Peer reviewed journal articles

  • Orton L, Anderson de Cuevas R, Donert C, Frost D, Gamella J, Greenfields M, Marcu O, Matras Y, Robinson J, Rosenhaft E, Salway S, Sheard S, Stojanovski K, Such E, TaylorRobinson D, Whitehead M (2019). Roma populations and health inequalities – a new perspective. International Journal of Human Rights in Healthcare. Doi: 10.1108/IJHRH-01- 2019-0004 Impact factor: 0.53.
  • Rawlinson R, Aslam RW, Burnside, G, Chiumento A, Eriksson-Lee M, Humphreys A, Khan N, Lawrence D, McCluskey R, Mackinnon A, Orton L, Rahman A, Roberts E, Rosaala-Hallas A, Tudor Edwards R, Uwamaliya P, White RG, Winrow E, Dowrick C. Lay-therapist-delivered, low-intensity, psychosocial intervention for refugees and asylum seekers (PROSPER): protocol for a pilot randomised controlled trial. Trials 21, 367 (2020). Doi: https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-020-04310-5. Impact factor: 2.258.
  • Orton L, Ponsford R, Egan M, Halliday E, Whitehead M, Popay J (2019). Capturing complexity in the evaluation of a major area-based initiative in community empowerment: What can a multi-site, multi team, ethnographic approach offer? Doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/13648470.2018.1508639. Impact factor: 1.33.
  • MacIntyre K, Bolton F, Chrisrley R, Cleary P, Deja B, Durie A, Diggle P, Hughes D, de Lusignan S, Orton L, Radford A, Elliot A, Smith G, Snape D, Stanistreet D, Vivancos R, Winstanley C, O’Brien S (2019). Fully-integrated, real-time detection, diagnosis and control of community diarrhoeal disease clusters and outbreaks – the Integrate Project. JMIR. Doi: 10.2196/preprints.13941. Impact factor: 4.945.
  • Orton L, Nayak S, Pennington A, Petticrew M, White M, Sowden A, Whitehead M. Does “control over destiny” explain socio-economic differences in health? A theory-led systematic review of observational studies on pathways in the living environment. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/jech-2019-212565. Impact factor: 3.872.
  • Pennington A, Orton L, Ring A, Nayak S, Petticrew M, White M, Sowden A, Whitehead M (2018). The health impacts of women’s low status and low control in society: A theory-based systematic review of empirical studies. Health and Place. Doi: 10.17863/CAM.24408. Impact factor: 3.279.
  • Lewis S, Bambra C, Barnes A, Collins M, Ponsford R, Halliday E, Orton L, Powell K, Salway S, Townsend A, Whitehead M, Popay J (2018). Reframing “participation” and “inclusion” in public health policy and practice to address health inequalities: Evidence from a major resident-led neighbourhood improvement initiative. Health & Social Care in the Community. Impact factor: 2.039.
  • Ronzi S, Orton L, Pope D, Bruce N (2018). What is the impact on health and wellbeing of interventions that foster respect and social inclusion in community-residing older adults? A systematic review of quantitative and qualitative studies. Systematic Reviews. Doi: 10.1186/s13643-018-0680-2. Impact factor: 3.52.
  • Hyseni L, Elliot Green A, Lloyd-Williams F, Kypridemos C, O’Flaherty M, McGill R, Orton L, Bromley H, Cappuccio FP, Capewell S (2017). Systematic review of dietary salt reduction policies: evidence for an effectiveness hierarchy? PLoS ONE. Doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0177535. Impact factor:  3.234.
  • Hyseni L, Atkinson M, Bromley H, Orton L, Lloyd-Williams F, McGill R, Capewell S (2017). The effects of policy actions to improve population dietary patterns and prevent diet related non-communicable diseases: scoping review. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition advance online publication 30 November 2016. Doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.234. Impact factor: 2.935.
  • Orton L, Halliday E, Egan M, Lewis S, Powell K, Salway S, Townsend A, Whitehead M, Popay J. Putting context centre stage: evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative. Critical Public Health. Doi: 10.1080/09581596.2016.1250868. Impact factor: 2.530.
  • Ronzi S, Pope D, Orton L, Bruce N (2016). Using photo-voice methods to explore older people’s perceptions of respect and social inclusion in cities: opportunities, challenges and solutions. Social Science and Medicine – Population Health. Doi: org/10.1016/j.ssmph.2016.09.004. Impact factor not yet calculated (new journal). 
  • Orton L, Pennington A, Nayak S, Sowden A, White M, Whitehead M. What is the impact of group-based microfinance on health and wellbeing? Systematic review. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 94: 694 704. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.2471/BLT.15.168252. Impact factor: 5.089.
  • Whitehead M, Pennington A, Orton L, Nayak S, Petticrew M, Sowden A, White M (2016). How could differences in “control over destiny” lead to socio-ecpnomic inequalities in health? A synthesis of theories and pathways in the living environment. Health & Place 39: 51-61. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.healthplace.2016.02.002. Impact factor:  3.279.
  • Halliday E, Orton L, Egan M, Lewis S, Powell K, Townsend A (2015). Understanding area-based community empowerment initiatives as events in systems and the implications for evaluating their potential to affect health inequalities. The Lancet 386, S41. . Impact factor: 45.217. 
  • Ponsford R, Collins M, Egan M, Lewis S, Orton L, Salway S (2015). Development of a framework for identifying and measuring collective control as a social determinant of health: findings from an evaluation of a natural policy experiment in empowerment. The Lancet 386, S64. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(15)00902-2. Impact factor: 45.217.  
  • McGill R, Anwar E, Orton L, Bromley H, Lloyd-Williams F, O’Flaherty M, Taylor-Robinson D, Guzman-Castillo M, Gillespie D, Moreira P, Allen K, Hyseni L, Calder N, Petticrew M, White M, Whitehead M, Capewell S (2015). Are interventions to promote healthy eating equally effective for all? Systematic review of socioeconomic inequalities in impact. BMC Public Health, 15: 457. Doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1781-7. Impact factor: 2.264.
  • Lloyd-Williams F, Bromley H, Orton L, Hawkes C, Taylor-Robinson D, O'Flaherty M, McGill R, Anwar E, Hyseni L, Moonan M, Rayner M and Capewell S (2014) Smorgasbord or symphony? Assessing public health nutrition policies across 30 European countries using a novel framework. BMC  Public Health, 14: 1195, doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1195. Impact factor: 2.264.
  • Critchley JA, Young F, Orton L, Garner P (2014). Adjunctive steroid therapy for managing pulmonary tuberculosis. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 11. Doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD011370. Impact factor: 6.103.
  • Critchley J, Young F, Orton L, Garner P (2013). Corticosteriods for prevention of mortality in people with tuberculosis: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 13:233-7. Doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(12)70321-3. Impact factor: 19.446.
  • Orton L, Griffiths J, Green M, Waterman H (2012). Resilience among asylum seekers living with HIV. BMC Public Health, 12:926. Doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-12-926. Impact factor: 2.264.
  • Taylor-Robinson DC , Lloyd-Williams F , Orton L , Moonan M , O'Flaherty M, Capewell S (2012). Barriers to Partnership Working in Public Health: A Qualitative Study. PLoS ONE, 7(1): e29536. http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029536. Impact factor: 3.234.
  • Orton L, Lloyd-Williams F, Taylor-Robinson DC, Moonan M, O’Flaherty M, Capewell S (2011). Prioritising public health. A qualitative study of decision making to reduce health inequalities. BMC Public Health 11: 821. Doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-821. Impact factor: 2.264.
  • Orton L, Lloyd-Williams F, Taylor-Robinson D, O’Flaherty M, Capewell S (2011). The Use of Research Evidence in Public Health Decision Making Processes: Systematic Review. PLoS ONE, 6(7): e21704.Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021704. Impact factor: 3.234.
  • Gray TA, Orton L, Henson D, Harper R, Waterman H (2009). Interventions for improving adherence to ocular hypotensive therapy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 2. Doi/10.1002/14651858.CD006132.pub2. Impact factor: 6.103.
  • Orton L, Omari AAA (2008). Drugs for treating uncomplicated malaria in pregnant women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 4. Doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD004912.pub3. Impact factor: 6.103.
  • Bukirwa H, Orton L (2005). Artesunate plus mefloquine versus mefloquine for treating uncomplicated malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 4. Doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004531.pub2. Impact factor: 6.103.
  • Orton L, Barnish G (2005). Unit-dose packaged drugs for treating malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 2. Doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004614.pub2. Impact factor: 6.103.
  • Osei-Akoto A, Orton L, Owusu-Ofori SPO (2005). Atovaquone-proguanil for treating uncomplicated malaria. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 4. Doi/10.1002/14651858.CD004529.pub2. Impact factor: 6.103.

Official reports (peer reviewed)

  • Whitehead M, Orton L, Pennington A, Nayak S, Ring A, Petticrew M, Sowden A, White M (2014). Is control in the living environment important for health and wellbeing, and what are the implications for public health interventions? Final report for the Public Health Research Consortium, UK. http://phrc.lshtm.ac.uk/papers/PHRC_004_Final_Report.pdf
  • Orton L, Lloyd-Williams F, Capewell S (2010). Local decision-making for cardiovascular disease treatment and prevention: promoting evidence-based policies. End of project report. Liverpool Health Inequalities Research Institute. https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/media/livacuk/instituteofpsychology/CVD_policy_exec_summary_Systematic_review.pdf
  • Woolacott N, Orton L, Beynon S, Myers L, Forbes C (2006). CRD Report 34. Systematic Review Of The Clinical Effectiveness Of Self Care Support Networks In Health And Social Care: Official Report for the Department of Health. http://www.crd.york.ac.uk/crdweb/PrintPDF.php

Theses and dissertations

  • Orton L. Seeking asylum and living with HIV: an ethnographic study (PhD thesis, 2009, University of Manchester).
  • Orton L. Impregnated bed nets as a means of controlling malaria in The Gambia (MSc dissertation, 2001, UCL).