Dr Steve Bell

Honorary Associate Professor

School of Public Health
Faculty of Medicine


Steve Bell is an Honorary Associate Professor at the School of Public Health. With interdisciplinary training in human geography, anthropology, development studies and public health, he has over 21 years’ experience of community-based qualitative, participatory and ethnographic research, with a focus on the health and wellbeing of marginalised peoples, health inequity and injustice, and the socio-structural determinants of health. Based in academic, research consultancy and non-governmental organisations, he has undertaken research, evaluation and strategy work in countries in South-East Asia (India, Nepal), Western Pacific (Australia, Indonesia, PNG, Fiji), Africa (Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe) and Europe (UK, France).

Steve works in partnership with communities, community organisations and government institutions to build understandings of people’s everyday experiences of health and wellbeing, societal structures that produce health inequalities, and community action that effects change. He specialises in the use of community-based methods and interpretive approaches to access and amplify excluded voices, knowledges and experiences, and is committed to prioritising community expertise and leadership to strengthen health programs, services, polices and outcomes. He has published two edited collections in these areas: ‘Peer research in health and social development: international perspectives on participatory research’ (2021), and ‘Monitoring and evaluation in health and social development: interpretive and ethnographic perspectives’ (2016). He is Joint Editor, Sexual Health journal and Member of the International Editorial Advisory Board for Culture, Health & Sexuality. He is not currently taking on new PhD students.

Research Interests

  • Socio-structural determinants of health and wellbeing
    Critical qualitative enquiry; lived experiences research; operation of determinants of health; production of health inequities
  • Community action, activism and resistance for social justice and health equity
    Community-based participatory research; working with community researchers; understanding operations of power; social change; role of community organisations and collectives; theorising agency
  • Sexual, reproductive and maternal health of young people
    Youth-led co-design of services, programs and policies; qualitative research design; health and social risks; agency and action; sex-positive and rights-based approaches
  • Community-based HIV research with key populations
    Individual and collective agency; forms of solidarity and action; concepts of agency, vulnerability and social practice; community-led innovation in HIV testing, treatment and care
  • Innovation in qualitative, participatory and ethnographic research
    Community-led research; working with community researchers; longitudinal research design; photovoice; peer research; participatory video


  • Bachelor of Arts, University of London
  • Master of Arts, University of London
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of London


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