End of project recap (and request!)

Now that the project has formally ended, it is a good time to recap on the progress made and ways forward for intersectional health research and intersectionality more widely.

During the year the project launched in 2018, one hundred papers were published mentioning both intersectionality and health in the title, abstract or keywords (according to SCOPUS). In 2021, that figure had ballooned to 450. These papers are increasingly diverse, applied to many different aspects of health. As work on intersectionality advances, we expect to see progress in how it is applied and ultimately how it can influence policy. Many of our project activities have tried to push in that direction.

Early on in the project in May 2019, we held a workshop in Sheffield which brought together around 25 health inequalities researchers and policy practitioners. The aim was to discuss the potential of and challenges with intersectionality as applied to health research. Presentations from both academics and wider stakeholders showcased some of the existing and emerging work in this area, providing much food for thought. During discussions, there were many great suggestions for how to advance policy action through intersectional approaches which can be read in the workshop summary here.

We also ran an academic conference panel in November 2020 in conjunction with the Understanding Inequalities project. This was an open online event and proved very popular, with the 250 available tickets being quickly allocated. Perhaps part of the appeal was its wide-ranging scope, covering smoking amongst African-Caribbean women, statistical approaches to intersectionality, biomarkers of healthy ageing and Roma health. The recording for this event is available online as are the presentations here.

Our final event focussed specifically on healthy ageing, and was aimed at both academic and policy/practice audiences. The intention was to have a strong policy focus to question and explore how intersectionality can actually be applied and explore the potential for the approach, similar to the initial workshop but this time opened up to a much wider audience. We were honoured to have Jabeer Butt (Race Equality Foundation), Nuzhat Ali (Public Health England) and Permjeet Dhoot (NHS England and NHS improvement) join for a panel discussion element. What was particularly insightful here was the diverse understandings of intersectionality that panel members had depending on the contexts in which they worked, ranging from applied healthcare, community involvement, or the wider national policy context. Further, the view was expressed that different organisations bring their own implicit understandings and ways of working to the table, complicating how intersectionality might be implemented by different actors. The presentations from this event are available here.

Alongside events, we used a variety of means to communicate the research. We produced an explainer animation (available here), now at over 20,000 views. A number of blogs have provided summaries of the project and its outputs. These outputs have so far covered advanced statistical approaches (paper here) empirical analysis of biomarkers (paper here), theoretical work (paper here and blog here) and co-produced policy work (paper here and blog here). Finally, the project website and newsletter have attracted a global audience.

So, the project has covered a lot of ground, but there is still lots to do, and many questions to answer! In relation to the substantive focus on chronic diseases, we have only begun to scratch the surface. There is now a need to more thoroughly integrate a life course perspective to understand how intersectional health inequalities emerge in different life stages and in different historical contexts. There is also great potential for mixed methods intersectional health research, which remains largely unexplored. Many potentially valuable suggestions on how intersectionality can influence policy and practice have arisen that could be taken up and explored (for example, see initial workshop report and the policy paper, linked above).

In reflecting on the project and its legacy, one of the challenges is that we are unaware of how those who have engaged with the project have used the resources generated. For example, we discovered by chance that the explainer animation is being used by two global companies in their Equality and Diversity training. We do not know the other ways which the project and its outputs and activities might have influenced the plans or action of other individuals or organisations, including those in academia, the community, the third sector, and policy and practice professionals.

To learn more about whether and how the project has been helpful, we have designed a very brief 5 minute survey. We would be very grateful if you could fill it in if you have engaged with the project in any way, regardless of your role. We will use responses to inform where we go to next.

Please fill in the 5 min engagement survey here!

National Centre for Research Methods Research Methods e-Festival event presentations

In October 2021 we organised a session at the National Centre for Research Methods Research Methods e-Festival event which focussed on the use of multilevel models to study intersectionality. (‘Quantitative methods for the study of intersectionality and health’). Clare Evans (Assistant Professor at the Department of Sociology, University of Oregon) was an invited speaker. The session explored current methods in this area, and how they might be further extended, e.g. for instance to incorporate geographical differences and temporal change.

The slides from the event are now available here

End-of-project event presentations

The presentations from the end-of-project event are now available:

Prof. Sarah Salway: Can intersectionality help with understanding and tackling health inequalities? Video here | Slides here

Dr. Andrew Bell: Geography and intersectionality. Slides here

Dr. Daniel Holman: Intersectionality in a life course perspective. Slides here

Blog post: Intersectionality: buzzword or key to solving health inequalities?

We have published a new blog on Fuse Open Science which summarises a paper we co-produced with stakeholders on the policy potential and challenges of an intersectional health perspective. We explore some of the key policy suggestions in this area and offer suggestions for the way forward. Take a look here!

End-of-project event

Join us for a policy-research crossover event on the topic of intersectionality and health inequalities on the 30th September 3-4:45pm.

This event will report findings from the project and then a policy response from Dr. Bola Owolabi, Director of Health Inequalities at NHS England and NHS Improvement. We will finish with a panel Q&A session, including members of the project team and our policy and practice partners.

Alan Walker, Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology, will chair the event.

Intersectionality has recently witnessed an explosion in interest, with claims about its transformative potential now commonplace. The pandemic has fuelled public health interest in the topic given the intersecting inequalities it has sharply exposed. This raises a number of questions:

• How workable is intersectionality in practice, and what are the barriers and challenges with its uptake?

• What is the relevance of intersectionality to understanding stark healthy ageing inequalities?

• What is the potential for an intersectional life course perspective?

In exploring these questions, we will draw from published papers and work-in-progress which cover empirical research, stakeholder perspectives and conceptual development.

To register, please see the Eventbrite link here

Blog post: Intersectionality and the life course

We have published a new blog on the British Society of Gerontology’s Ageing Issues which argues that we need to consider how intersectionality and the life course perspectives speak to each other in understanding unequal ageing. We especially focus on unequal healthy ageing and quantitative methods. Take a look here!

Webinar: How can intersectionality further understanding on health inequalities?

The recording and slides are now available for the webinar held on 5th November 2020 (see further below for details).

Link to recording (starts at 3:40): Click here

Intersectionality and health explainer video

We commissioned Posh Gecko to produce a 3 minute explainer animation on intersectionality and health, aimed at non-specialist audiences. Take a look! If you are interested in working with us on using intersectionality in your own work, please get in touch.

Webinar: How can intersectionality further understanding on health inequalities?

Chair: Professor Gwilym Pryce (University of Sheffield)

Speakers: Dr Daniel Holman (University of Sheffield), Dr Jenny Douglas (Open University), Dr Andrew Bell (University of Sheffield), Dr Lois Orton (University of Sheffield)

Interest in intersectionality as a way to advance understanding of and action on health inequalities has exploded in recent years, with a series of high-profile papers and projects appearing across international fora. Essentially, intersectionality acknowledges that gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic position, age (and other social attributes) do not exist in isolation, but are mutually constituted, as therefore are the inequalities associated with them. These inequalities must be understood as rooted in systems of social power. Focussing on single axes of inequality does not accord with social reality, and inevitably regurgitates simplistic, ineffective policy solutions.

This panel directly engages with the intersectionality agenda, presenting a range of (quantitative, qualitative and mixed-method) empirical and methodological work on how intersectionality can further understanding of health inequalities and how to tackle them. We consider inequalities across the life course and socio-historical contexts. Talks will cover biomarkers in healthy ageing, multilevel simulation studies, mixed methods research on youth smoking, and European policy perspectives on Roma health.

Stakeholder workshop

A project workshop was held at the University of Sheffield on May 20th 2019 on the topic of intersectionality in health inequalities research. The audience were a mixture of UK and international academics, as well as people working in the NHS, third sector organisations, local city councils and other national and local bodies.

The specific aims of the workshop were:

  • To spread awareness of intersectionality and its potential for understanding/tackling health inequalities.
  • To share examples of how intersectionality can be applied to health inequalities research.
  • To get input from both academic and non-academic audiences on current challenges/issues in intersectionality research.
  • To establish ways forward and next steps in promoting intersectional ways of thinking.
  • To facilitate networking on this topic.

A summary of the workshop is available here:

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