There is strong evidence that the social and economic conditions in which we grow, live, work and age determine our health to a much larger degree than lifestyle choices. These social determinants of health, such as income, good quality homes, education or work, are not distributed equally in society, which leads to health inequalities. Many of these social determinants of health are the responsibility of policy sectors other than "health", which means policy organisations need to promote health across all their policies if they are to have a big impact on health. SIPHER will provide new scientific evidence and methods to support such a shift from "health policy" to "healthy public policy". 


We will work with policy partners at local, regional and national level to tackle their above-average chronic disease burden and persistent health inequalities: Sheffield City Council, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Scottish Government. We will focus on four jointly agreed policy priorities for good health:

- Creating a fairer economy

- Promoting mental wellbeing

- Providing affordable, good quality housing

- Preventing long-term effects of difficult childhoods


Each of the above policy areas is a complex political system with many competing priorities, where policy choices in one sector (e.g. housing) can have large unintended effects in others (e.g. poverty). There is often no "correct" solution because compromises between different outcomes require value judgements. This means that to assess the true benefits and costs of a policy in relation to health, policy effects and their interdependencies need to be assessed across a wide range of possible outcomes. However, no policymaker has knowledge of the whole system and future economic and political developments are uncertain. Ongoing monitoring of expected and unexpected effects of policies and other system changes is crucial so failing policies can be revised or dropped.  We propose to use complex systems modelling, which has been developed to understand and make projections of what might happen in complex systems given different plausible assumptions about future developments. Our models will be underpinned by the best available data and prior research in each policy area. Our new evidence about likely policy effects across a wide range of outcomes will help policy partners decide between alternative policies, depending on how important different outcomes are to them (e.g. improving health or economic growth). We will develop support tools that can visualise the forecasts, identify policies that achieve the desired balance between competing outcomes and update recommendations when new information emerges. Whilst new to public health policy, these methods are well-established in engineering and climate science. We will

  1. Work with policy partners to understand the policy systems and evidence needs
  2. Bring together existing data and evidence on each policy system (e.g. links between policies and outcomes, interdependencies between outcomes)
  3. Explore citizens' preferences for prioritising when not all outcomes can be achieved
  4. Link policies and their health and non-health effects in computer models to analyse benefits and costs over time
  5. Build an interactive tool to help policy decision-making, inform advocacy action and support political debate. 

SIPHER Team Members

SIPHER Directorate

Petra Meier, Consortium Director and WS8 Lead

Corinna Elsenbroich, Consortium Co-Director

Julian Cox, Consortium Co-Director and GMCA Partner

David Innes, Consortium Manager


SIPHER Team Members

Adam Keeley, Workstrand 3 Researcher

Aki Tsuchiya, Workstrand 6 Lead

Alan Brennan, Workstrand 3, 4, 5 and 7 Co-Investigator

Alison Heppenstall, Workstrand 3 and 5 Lead

Alistair Brown, Workstrand 1 Researcher

An Thu Ta (Anna), PhD Student

Anna Brook, Workstrand 2 Researcher

Anna Macintyre, Workstrand 1 Researcher

Anne Cunningham, Workstrand 7 Researcher

Asif Ishaq, Scottish Government Partner

Becky Field, Workstrand 6 Researcher

Ceri Hughes, Inclusive Growth Researcher

Chris Gibbons, Sheffield City Council Partner

Chris Wu, Workstrand 3 and 5 Researcher

Clare Bambra, Workstrand 2 Co-Investigator and Health Inequalities Expert

Clemmie Hill O'Connor, Workstrand 1 Researcher

Colin Angus, Data Visualisation and Inequalities Expert

Craig Watkins, Housing Expert

Dan Chedgzoy, Sheffield City Council Embedded Researcher

Duncan Chambers, Workstrand 2 Researcher

Ellen Stewart, Public Engagement Lead & Workstrand 8 Co-Investigator

Fiona Campbell, Workstrand 2 Co-Lead

Fraser Bell, GMCA Embedded Researcher

Greg Fell, Sheffield City Council Partner

Helen Thompson, Consortium Administrator

Hui Zhang, Workstrand 6 Researcher

Jen Boyd, PhD Student

Jennifer Llewellyn, Workstrand 2 Researcher

Jessica Smith, GMCA Partner

João Duro, Workstrand 7 Researcher

John Brazier, Workstrand 6 Co-Investigator

Kate Hayes, Workstrand 4 Researcher

Katherine Smith, Workstrand 1 Lead and Workstrand 8 Co-Investigator

Katrina Hann, GMCA Partner

Liddy Goyder, Health Inequalities Expert

Liz Such, Workstrand 1, 2 and 8 Co-Investigator

Louise Brewins, Sheffield City Council Partner

Mark Birkin, Workstrand 3 and 5 Co-Investigator

Mark Bryan, Workstrand 4 and 7 Co-Investigator

Mark Clowes, Workstrand 2 Researcher

Mark Strong, Workstrand 4 Co-Investigator

Mary Gogarty, GMCA Embedded Researcher

Mohammad Hassannezhad, Workstrand 7 Researcher

Nik Lomax, Workstrand 3 and 5 Lead

Rachel Anderson, Scottish Government Embedded Researcher

Richard Bentall, Public Mental Health Expert

Rob Clay, Workstrand 5 Researcher

Robin Purshouse, Workstrand 7 Lead

Ruth Lupton, Inclusive Growth Expert

Ruth Wong, Workstrand 2 Researcher

Victoria Johnson, PhD Student

Visakan Kadirkamanathan, Workstrand 4 Lead

SIPHER's Partners

Policy Partners

SIPHER’s policy partners are the Scottish Government, Sheffield City Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authority. Representing local, regional and national governments, they are developing new ways of working to tackle key problems, including reducing persistent inequalities and promoting population health. New strategies and frameworks are explicitly place-based and multi-sectoral in approach.

Academic Partners

SIPHER’s academic partners bring expertise from a wide range of scientific disciplines. As well as the University of Glasgow, SIPHER's academic partners include The University of Sheffield, University of Strathclyde, University of Leeds, The University of Edinburgh, Newcastle University and The University of Manchester.

Practice Partners

SIPHER’s Practice Partners will help us make our work applicable to a wide range of settings and policy questions. Our Practice Partners include senior representatives from the following organisations: Public Health Scotland, Public Health England, Public Health Wales, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Learn Sheffield, Sheffield City Partnership, Northern Health Science Alliance, Local Government Association, The Alan Turing Institute, Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, Behavioural Science and Public Health Network, and Hertfordshire County Council.


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Bambra C, Riordan R, Ford J, Matthews F. (2020) The COVID-19 pandemic and health inequalitiesJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 74:964-968.

Angus C. (2020) Visualising the spread of COVID-19 across England. People, Place and Policy, 14(3): 294-296.

McGill E, Er V, Penney T, Egan M, White M, Meier P, Whitehead M, Lock K, Anderson de Cuevas R, Smith R, Savona N, Rutter H, Marks D, de Vocht F, Cummins S, Popay J, Petticrew M. (2021) Evaluation of public health interventions from a complex systems perspective: a research methods review. Social Science & Medicine, 113697,

Hassannezhad M, Gogarty M, Hill O’Connor C, Cox J, Meier PS, Purshouse R. (2021) A Cybernetic Participatory Approach for Whole-Systems Modelling and Analysis, with Application to Inclusive Economies. Research Report (pre-peer review print).

Brook A, Hearty W, McCartney G, Naik Y, Meier P, Thompson H, Donaghy G. (2021) Systematic review of studies examining the causal relationship between national aggregate economic activity and population health outcomes, including health inequalities. PROSPERO 2021 CRD42021227686.

Aburto JM, Kashyap R, Scholey J, Angus C, Ermisch J, Mills MC, Beam Dowd J. (2021) Estimating the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on mortality, life expectancy and lifespan inequality in England and Wales: a population-level analysisJournal of Epidemiology & Community Health, doi: 10.1136/jech-2020-215505.

Bambra C, Lynch J, Smith KE. (2021) The Unequal Pandemic: COVID-19 and Health Inequalities. Bristol, 2021.120 p.


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