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Durham University

Email and Telephone Directory

Staff Profile

Professor Brett Smith, PhD

Professor of Disability and Physical Activity in the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences

(email at


Brett Smith is the Department Director of Research. Before joining Durham in 2019, he was a Professor first at Loughborough University and then at the University of Birmingham. His extensively funded research on disability and physical activity is underpinned by work from psychology, sociology, public health, and critical disability studies. Working with organisations like Disability Rights UK, it is also often co-produced and community-based. Brett was the Chair of the Disability and Physical Activity Expert Working Group for the 2019 UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Physical Activity Guidelines, and an author of the report. He is also an appointed core member of the new CMO Physical Activity Expert Committee for Communications.

Along with expertise on disability, physical activity and sport, Brett is a methodologist in qualitative research. He has a particular interest in narrative inquiry, rigor, and arts-based research for knowledge translation and public engagement purposes. He is the founder and former editor of the international journal Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health (QRSEH). Currently he is a QRSEH Advisory Board Member, Editorial Board Member of 10 journals, and Associate Editor of 2 journals: Psychology of Sport & Exercise, and Sport, Exercise & Performance Psychology. Brett is also the President of the International Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise.

Twitter: @BrettSmithProf

Google Scholar:

PhD supervision

Brett welcomes applications from potential PhD students interested in the psycho-social aspects of disability, sport, physical activity, and/or social justice.

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  • Smith, Brett & Monforte, Javier (2020). Stories, New Materialism and Pluralism: Understanding, Practising and Pushing the Boundaries of Narrative Analysis. Methods in Psychology 2: 100016.
  • Smith, Brett & Wightman, Leanne (2019). Promoting physical activity to disabled people: messengers, messages, guidelines and communication formats. Disability and Rehabilitation 1.
  • Smith, B. & McGannon, K.R. (2018). Developing rigor in qualitative research: problems and opportunities within sport and exercise psychology. International Review of Sport and Exercise Psychology 11(1): 101-121.
  • Smith, B., Bundon, A. & Best, M. (2016). Disability sport and activist identities: A qualitative study of narratives of activism among elite athletes’ with impairment. Psychology of Sport and Exercise 26: 139-148.
  • Caddick, N., Smith, B. & Phoenix, C. (2015). Male combat veterans' narratives of PTSD, masculinity, and health. Sociology of Health and Illness 37(1): 97-111.
  • Smith, B., Tomasone, J.R., Latimer-Cheung, A.E. & Martin Ginis, K.A. (2015). Narrative as a knowledge translation tool for facilitating impact: Translating physical activity knowledge to disabled people and health professionals. Health Psychology 34(4): 303-313.
  • Papathomas, A., Williams, T.L. & Smith, B. (2015). Understanding physical activity participation in spinal cord injured populations: Three narrative types for consideration. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being 10(1): 27295.
  • Smith, B. (2013). Sporting spinal cord injuries, social relations, and rehabilitation narratives: An ethnographic creative non-fiction of becoming disabled through sport. Sociology of Sport Journal 30(2): 132-152.

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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Disability issues:
  • Sport: