Departmental Research Projects
Professor Sarah Elizabeth Curtis, BA (Hons) (Oxon), DPhil, FBA,FAcSS,FRGS
Professor Sarah Curtis is Professor Emerita at Durham University. She is an internationally recognised specialist in the geography of health and wellbeing. Her scholarship explores how and why places matter for human health. Her work concentrates on socio-geographical conditions and processes that are associated with inequalities in health and wellbeing, and risks for physical and mental health, in different contexts,.
As well as contributing to theoretical development of health geography, her work has strong applied and international aspects. Her research has informed and contributed to health policy development and evaluation of health services in the UK, France, Russia, Poland, Canada and the USA.
Sarah Curtis was appointed in September 2006 as Professor of Health and Risk in the Geography department at the University of Durham. From 2012 to 2015 she was Executive Director of the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience, where she led strategic development of interdisciplinary research at the University, focused on diverse aspects of hazards and risks in the physical and social environment and how to build resilience to these hazards.
Sarah has been fully retired since 2016 and continues to carry out collaborative research with colleagues at Durham University Geography Department (in her role as Professor Emerita) and with the Centre for Research in Environment Society and Health at the University of Edinburgh, where she is Honorary Professor.
In 2014 Sarah Curtis was elected as Fellow of the British Academy, an independent national academy of Fellows elected for their eminence in research and publication. She is also a Fellow and and Chartered Geographer (Founder Member) of the Royal Geographical Society, Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences and Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Sarah Curtis holds a BA Hons in Geography from Oxford University and DPhil in Urban and Regional Studies from the University of Kent. Before joining Durham University she worked as Professor in Geography at Queen Mary, University of London.
Recent Research Includes:
- Sarah has been advising a collaborative project, funded by ESRC 2018-2019, involving Universities of Edinburgh, Durham and Newcastle, working on 'Recession and Mental Health in Scotland: Do Personal or Community Factors promote Resilience to Labour Market Change?'. Professor Jamie Pearce at University of Edinburgh is the Principal Investigator.
- in 2017-18 Sarah was a member of the research team at Durham University which worked on Community Wellbeing as part of the ESRC funded What Works for Wellbeing Programme.
- Sarah was Principal Investigator for the Leverhulme Trust Programme on Tipping Points based in the Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience and employing 9 PDRAs in various Departments across the University, which completed in 2015.
- She was Principal Investigator for the project ‘BIOPICCC - Built Infrastructure for Older People in Conditions of Climate Change.’ 2009 -2012 funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council under their ARCC Programme. This has published a toolkit for development of adaptation to climate change which has been widely cited as a valuable planning resource.
- Research on physical activity and wellbeing in schools (the ‘MOVE’ project) (funded by ESRC), for which Sarah is Co-I directing research by Dr Katie Thomson, PDRA in geography.
- health impact assessment of urban regeneration schemes, (for the Department of Health, and other agencies).
- development of healthy public policy (with agencies in Canada and UK).
- research on how the social and physical environment relates to well-being, resilience and health of adults and children (funded by ESRC and the Nuffield Foundation).
- research on therapeutic design of psychiatric health care settings (funded by British Academy).
- international collaborative work on migration, health and wellbeing (supported by ESRC).
- comparative research on geographical variation in psychiatric service use supported by the Office of Mental Health for New York State, USA. This work has been widely disseminated through her research publications.
Sarah has collaborated through research and consultancy with a number of organisations including local and national agencies in the English National Health Service; the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, England, the Environment Agency, the Cabinet Office Resilient Communities Unit, the Health Protection Agency; The Greater London Authority, the World Health Organisation; the Insitut National de la Santé et Recherche Medicale, France. She has served as: non-executive director of a NHS Community and Mental Health Care Trust; on the Advisory Board for the London Health Observatory; and as board member and advisor for the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy, National Institute of Public Health, Quebec, Canada. She has undertaken review and advisory roles for various national research councils in the UK and internationally.
Sarah Curtis was the Senior Editor, Medical Geography, for the leading international journal Social Science and Medicine (from 2003 - 2012), and she undertakes work for national Research Council committees and evaluation panels in the UK and abroad and was nominated member of the National Scientific Council of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France from 2010-2018. She is a Member of the Society of Social Medicine and a Registered Practitioner of the Academy for Higher Education.
Sarah Curtis is author of several books including: Space, Place and Mental Health (2010) Ashgate.
- Built Infrastructure for Older People’s Care in Conditions of Climate Change (BIOPICCC)
- Geographical Variation in the Provision and Use of Health Services
- Migration, Health and Wellbeing: Comparative Perspectives from Britain and France
- Pathways of Housing Wealth and Well-being: precipitants and consequences of mortgage equity withdrawal in BHPS and HILDA
- Sources of Resilience to Adverse Social Environments
- Winners and losers in contrasting labour markets? Socio-economic and spatial inequalities in the population health effects of economic recession and economic growth, BUPA Foundation, £130,000 (2010-2014)
- Curtis, S. Space, Place and Mental Health. Farnham.: Farnham, Ashgate; 2010.
- Curtis, S. Health and Inequality: Geographical Perspectives. London: Sage; 2004.
- Curtis, S. & Taket, A. Health and Societies: Changing Perspectives. London: HodderArnold; 1996.
- Curtis, S. The Geography of Public Welfare Provision. London: Routledge; 1989.
- Aïach, P., Carr-Hill, R., Curtis, S. & Illsley, R. Les Inégalités Sociales de Santé en France et en Grande Bretagne: Analyse et Etude Comparative. Paris: INSERM; 1988.
Chapter in book
- Curtis, S. & Hoyez, A.C. Public Health and Migration. In: Ness, I., Bellwood, P., Gabaccia, D., Maty Bâ, S., Safitri, S. & Julca, A. The Encyclopedia of Global Human Migration. Wiley Blackwell; 2012.
- Riva, M. & Curtis, S. Policy Responses and the Physical Environment. In: Pearce, J. & Witten, K. Geographies of Obesity: Environmental Understandings of the Obesity Epidemic. Farnham, Ashgate; 2011.
- Riva, M. & Curtis, S. The Rural, Material and Social Context of Positive Health in England. In: Atkinson, S., Painter, J. & Fuller, S. Wellbeing and Place. Farnham, Ashgate; 2011.
- Curtis, S., Riva, M. & Rosenberg, M. Health Geography in Public Health. In: Brown, T., McLafferty, S. & Moon, G. Companion to Health and Medical Geography. Oxford Blackwell; 2010:325-345.
- Gesler, W. & Curtis, S. Application of Concepts of Therapeutic Landscapes to the Design of Hospitals in the UK: The example of a Mental Health Facility in London. In: Williams, A. Therapeutic Landscapes. Ashgate; 2007:149-164.
- Curtis, S. & Cummins, S.C.J. Ecological studies. In: Galeo, S. Macro Social Determinants of Health. USA: Springer; 2007:327-348.
- Curtis, S. Geographie sociale et geographie de la sante. In: Fleuret, S. & Thouez, J-P. Geographie de la Sante: un Panorama. Paris.: Economica; 2007:26-36.
- Curtis, S. & Bebbington, A. Geographical variations in health and welfare and their significance for equity and efficiency in resource allocation. In: Knapp, M., Challis, D., Fernández, J.-L. & Netten, A. Long-Term Care: Matching Resources and Needs. Aldershot: Ashgate; 2004:199-218.
- De Campos, R., Congdon, P., Curtis, S., Gregory, I. N., Rees Jones, I. & Southall, H. Locality-level mortality and socio-economic change in Britain since 1920: first steps towards analysis of infant mortality variation. In: Boyle, P. J., Curtis, S., Graham, E. & Moore, E. The Geography of Health Inequalities in the Developed World: Views from Britain and North America. London: Ashgate; 2004.
- Fagg, J., Curtis, S., Stansfeld, S. & Congdon, P. Neighbourhood influences on adolescent health in East London. In: Sagan, I. & Czepczyński, M. Featuring the Quality of Urban Life in Contemporary Cities of Eastern and Western Europe. Gdańsk-Poznań Bogucki Wydawnictwo Naukowe = Bogucki Scientific Press; 2004:117-124.
- Curtis, S. Social exclusion, health and health care; the case of the National Health Service in England. In: Lee, R. & Smith, D. Geographies and Moralities: International Perspectives on Development, Justice and Place. Oxford: Blackwell; 2004:79-82.
- Bennett, P., Curtis, S., Calman, K. & Smith, D. Risk Communication and Public Health. Oxford.: Oxford University Press; Accepted.
- Bennett, P., Calman, K., Curtis, S. & Fishbacher-Smith, D. Risk Communication and Public Health. Oxford University Press; 2009.
- Boyle, P. J., Curtis, S., Graham, E. & Moore, E. The Geography of Health Inequalities in the Developed World: Views from Britain and North America. London: Ashgate; 2004.
- Atkinson, S., Bagnall, A-M., Corcoran, R., South, J. & Curtis, S. Being well together: individual subjective and community wellbeing. Journal of Happiness Studies. 2019.
- Curtis, Sarah, Pearce, Jamie, Cherrie, Mark, Dibben, Christopher, Cunningham, Niall & Bambra, Clare Changing labour market conditions during the ‘great recession’ and mental health in Scotland 2007–2011: An example using the Scottish Longitudinal Study and data for local areas in Scotland. Social Science & Medicine. 2019;227:1-9.
- Killaspy, Helen, Priebe, Stefan, McPherson, Peter, Zenasni, Zohra, McCrone, Paul, Dowling, Sarah, Harrison, Isobel, Krotofil, Joanna, Dalton-Locke, Christian, McGranahan, Rose, Arbuthnott, Maurice, Curtis, Sarah, Leavey, Gerard, MacPherson, Rob, Eldridge, Sandra & King, Michael Feasibility Randomised Trial Comparing Two Forms of Mental Health Supported Accommodation (Supported Housing and Floating Outreach); a Component of the QuEST (Quality and Effectiveness of Supported Tenancies) Study. Frontiers in Psychiatry. 2019;10:258.
- Williams, Laurence, Macnaghten, Phil, Davies, Richard & Curtis, Sarah Framing ‘fracking’ Exploring public perceptions of hydraulic fracturing in the United Kingdom. Public Understanding of Science. 2017;26:89-104.
- Sandhu, Sima, Priebe, Stefan, Leavey, Gerard, Harrison, Isobel, Krotofil, Joanna, McPherson, Peter, Dowling, Sarah, Arbuthnott, Maurice, Curtis, Sarah, King, Michael, Shepherd, Geoff & Killaspy, Helen Intentions and experiences of effective practice in mental health specific supported accommodation services: a qualitative interview study. BMC Health Services Research. 2017;17:471.
- Curtis, S.E., Gesler, W., Wood, V.J., Spenser, I., Mason, J., Close, H. & Reilly, J. Compassionate containment? Balancing technical safety and therapy in the design of psychiatric wards. Social Science & Medicine. 2013;97:201-209.
- Wood, V.J., Curtis, S.E., Gesler, W., Spencer, I.H., Close, H.J., Mason, J. & Reilly, J.G. Creating 'therapeutic landscapes' for mental health carers in inpatient settings a dynamic perspective on permeability and inclusivity. Social science & medicine. 2013;91:122-129.
- Fagg, J., Curtis, S., Cummins, S., Stansfeld, S. & Quesnel-Quesnel-Vallée, A. Neighbourhood deprivation and adolescent self-esteem: Exploration of the ‘socio-economic equalisation in youth’ hypothesis in Britain and Canada. Social Science and Medicine. 2013;91:168-177.
- Wood, V.J., Curtis, S.E., Gesler, W., Spencer, I.H., Close, H.J., Mason, J.M. & Reilly, J.G. Spaces for smoking in a psychiatric hospital: social capital, resistance to control, and significance for 'therapeutic landscapes'. Social Science and Medicine. 2013;97:104-111.
- Oven, K., Curtis, S., Reaney, S., Riva, M., Stewart, M.G., Ohlemuller, R., Dunn, C., Nodwell, S., Dominelli, L. & Holden, R. Climate change and health and social care: Defining future hazard, vulnerability and risk for infrastructure systems supporting older people’s health care in England. Applied Geography. 2012;33:16-24.
- Cairns, J.M., Curtis, S.E. & Bambra, C. Defying Deprivation: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of Area Level Health Resilience in England. Health and Place. 2012;18:928-933.
- Riva, M. & Curtis, S.E. Long-term local area employment rates as predictors of individual mortality and morbidity: a prospective study in England, spanning more than two decades. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. 2012;66:919-926.
- Riva, M., Terashima, M., Curtis, S., Shucksmith, J. & Carlebach, S. Coalfield Health Effects: Variation Across Former Coalmining Communities in England. Health and Place. 2011.
- Riva, M., Bambra, C., Curtis, S.E. & Gauvin, L. Collective resources or local social inequalities? Examining the social determinants of mental health in rural areas. European Journal of Public Health. 2011;21:197-203.
- Curtis, S. & Oven, K. Progress Report: Geographies of Health and Climate Change. Progress in Human Geography. 2011.
- Riva, M., Curtis, S. & Norman, P. Residential mobility within England and urban-rural inequalities in mortality. Social Science and Medicine. 2011;73:1698-1706.
- Pabayo, R., Belsky, J., Gauvin, L. & Curtis, S. Do Area Characteristics Predict Change in Moderate-to-Vigorous Physical Activity from Ages 11 to 15 Years? Social Science and Medicine. 2010.
- Riva, M., Bambra, C., Easton, S. & Curtis, S. Hard Times or Good Times? Inequalities in the Health Effects of Economic Change. International Journal of Public Health. 2010.
- Mindell, J., Biddulph, J., Taylor, L., Lock, K., Boaz, A., Joffe, M. & Curtis, S. Improving the Use of Evidence in Health Impact Assessment. Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 2010;543-550.
- Curtis, S. & Riva, M. Progress Report: Health Geographies I: Complexity theory and human health. Progress in Human Geography. 2010;34:215-223.
- Curtis, S. & Riva, M. Progress Report: Health Geographies II: Complexity and health care systems and policy. Progress in Human Geography. 2010;34:513-520.
- Coldefy, M. & Curtis, S. The Geography of Institutional Psychiatric Care in France 1800 - 2000: Historical Analysis of the Spatial Diffusion of Specialised Facilities for Institutional Care of Mental Illness. Social Science and Medicine. 2010.
- Curtis, S., Congdon, P., Almog, M. & Ellermann, R. County variation in use of inpatient and ambulatory psychiatric care in New York State 1999-2001: Need and Supply influences in a structural model. Health and Place. 2009;15:568-577.
- Curtis, S. & Hoyez, A.C. Franco-British Working Group on Migration Health and Wellbeing. International Journal of Migration, Health and Social Care. 2009;4-19.
- Curtis, S. & Riva, M. Health geographies I: complexity theory and human health. Progress in Human Geography. 2009;34:215-223.
- Curtis, S. & Riva, M. Health geographies II: complexity and health care systems and policy. Progress in Human Geography. 2009;34:513-520.
- Curtis, S., Gesler, W., Priebe, S. & Francis, S. New spaces of inpatient care for people with mental illness: a complex "rebirth" of the clinic?. Health and Place. 2009;15:340-348.
- Curtis, S., Setia, M. & Quesnel-Vallee, A. Socio-Geographic Mobility and Health Status: a longitudinal analysis using the National Population Health Survey of Canada. Social Science and Medicine. 2009;69:1845-1853.
- Riva, M., Curtis, S., Gauvin, L. & Fagg, J. Unravelling the extent of inequalities in health across urban and rural areas: Evidence from a national sample in England. Social Science and Medicine. 2009;68:654-663.
- Fagg, J., Curtis, S., Stansfield, S., Cattell, V., Tupuola, A-M. & Arephin, M. Area social fragmentation, social support for individuals and psychosocial health in young adults: Evidence from a national survey in England. Social Science and Medicine. 2008;66:242-254.
- Curtis, S. How can we address Health inequality through healthy public policy in Europe?. European Urban and Regional Studies. 2008;15:293-305.
- Cattell, V, Dines, N, Gesler, W & Curtis, S Mingling, observing and lingering: Everyday public spaces and their implications for well-being and social relations. Health and Place. 2008;14:544-561.
- Fagg, J., Curtis, S., Clark, C., Congdon, P. & Stansfield, S. Neighbourhood perceptions among inner-city adolescents relationships with their individual characteristics and with independently assessed neighbourhood conditions. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 2008;28:128-142.
- Curtis, S., Pederson, A., Bruce, T. & Frankish, J. Pour des politiques publiques favorables a la sante dans le contexte de la preparation de grands evenements internationaux: l'exemple des jeux olympiques. Telescope. 2008;14:95-105.
- Curtis, S.E. Concluding commentary: Report from the eleventh international symposium in medical geography: a comment from the senior editor. Social Science and Medicine. 2007;65:169-171.
- Curtis, S. How can we address health inequality through healthy public policy in Europe? European Urban and Regional Studies. 2007.
- Curtis, S. L'utilisation des politiques publiques pour promouvoir la sante: Quelques reflexions sur l'example de la planification du parc olympique 2012 a Londres. Reviews for Health Promotion and Education Online. 2007.
- Curtis, S. Socio-economic status and geographies of psychiatric inpatient service use. Places, provision, power and wellbeing. Epidemiologia e psichiatria sociale. 2007;16:10-15.
- Curtis, S., Gesler, W., Fabian, K., Francis, S. & Priebe, S. Therapeutic landscapes in hospital design: a qualitative assessment by staff and service users of the design of a new mental health inpatient unit. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy. 2007;25:591-610.
- Cummins, S., Curtis, S.E., Diez-Roux, A.V. & Macintyre, S. Understanding and representing 'place' in health research: A relational approach. Social Science and Medicine. 2007;66:1825-1838.
- Warfa, N., Bhui, K., Craig, T., Curtis, S., Mohamud, S., Stansfeld, S., McCrone, P. & Thornicroft, G. Post-migration geographical mobility, mental health and health service utilisation among Somali refugees in the UK: A qualitative study. Health and Place. 2006;12:503-515.
- Fagg, J., Curtis, S.E., Stansfeld, S. & Congdon, P. Psychological distress among adolescents, and its relationship to individual, family and area characteristics in East London. Social Science and Medicine. 2006;63:636-648.
- Curtis, S.E., Copeland, A., Fagg, J., Congdon, P., Almog, M. & Fitzpatrick, J. The ecological relationship between deprivation, social isolation and rates of hospital admission for acute psychiatric care; a comparison of London and New York City. Health and Place. 2006;12:19-37.
- Tonnellier, F. & Curtis, S.E. Medicine, landscapes, symbols: 'The Country Doctor' by Honoré de Balzac. Health and Place. 2005;11:313-321.
- Curtis, S.E., Southall, H., Congdon, P. & Dodgeon, B. Area effects on health variation over the life-course: analysis of the longitudinal study sample in England using new data on area of residence in childhood. Social Science and Medicine. 2004;58:57-74.
- Mindell, J., Boaz, A., Joffe, M., Curtis, S. E. & Birley, M. Enhancing the evidence base for health impact assessment. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2004;58:546-551.
- Almog, M., Curtis, S.E., Copeland, A. & Congdon, P. Geographical variation in acute psychiatric admissions within New York City 1990-2000: growing inequalities in service use?. Social Science and Medicine. 2004;59:361-376.
- Rees Jones, I., Berney, L., Kelly, M., Doyal, L., Griffiths, C., Feder, G., Hillier, S., Rowlands, G. & Curtis, S. E. Is patient involvement possible when decisions involve scarce resources? A qualitative study of decision-making in primary care. Social Science and Medicine. 2004;59:93-201.
- Gesler, W., Bell, M., Curtis, S.E., Hubbard, P. & Francis, S. Therapy by design: evaluating the UK hospital building program. Health and Place. 2004;10:117-128.
- Curtis, S.E., Cave, B. & Coutts, A. Is urban regeneration good for health? Perceptions and theories of the health impacts of urban change. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy. 2002;20:517-534.
- Asthana, S., Curtis, S. E., Duncan, C. & Gould, M. Themes in British health geography at the end of the century: a review of published research 1998–2000. Social Science and Medicine. 2002;55:167-173.
- Cave, B. & Curtis, S. E. Developing a toolkit to assess the potential health impact of urban regeneration schemes. Promotion and Education. 2001;1:12-16.
- Curtis, S. E. Health in London. Area. 2001;33:84-91.
- Almog, M., Curtis, S.E. & Fitzpatrick, J. La géographie du recours à l’hôpital psychiatrique en relation avec la pauvreté, et son intérêt à New York et à Londres. Technologie et Santé. 2001;45:40-56.
- Congdon, P., Campos, R., Curtis, S. E., Southall, H., Gregory, I. N. & Jones, I. R. Quantifying and explaining changes in geographical inequality of infant mortality in England and Wales since the 1890s. International Journal of Population Geography. 2001;7:35-51.
- Curtis, Sarah, Congdon, Peter, Atkinson, Sarah, Corcoran, Rhiannon, MaGuire, Rosie & Peasgood, Tessa Individual and local area factors associated with self-reported wellbeing, perceived social cohesion and sense of attachment to one’s community: analysis of the Understanding Society Survey. 2019.
- Shucksmith, J., Carlebach, S., Riva, M., Curtis, S., Hunter, D, J., Blackman, T. & Hudson, R. Health Inequalities in Ex-Coalfield/Industrial Communities. A report to the Improvement and Development Agency for Local Government and the Department of Health. 2010.
Available for media contact about:
- Health & welfare services: Health inequality
- Health & welfare services: Geography of Health
- 2015: Bringing wellbeing to community (£87250.40 from ESRC)
- 2013: Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation (£53433.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
- 2012: Differential acculturation and its impact on well being among Bangladeshi migrants living at different densities in the UK (£20233.46 from ESRC)
- 2012: Physical Activity and Wellbeing in Schools (£144339.15 from ESRC)
- 2012: Quality and Effectiveness of Supported Tenancies for people with mental health problems (QEST) (£5574.00 from NIHR)
- 2010: Tipping Points: mathematics, metaphors and meaning (£472569.00 from The Leverhulme Trust)
- 2013: Christopher Moyes MF PHD Nahid R (£53433.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
- 2012: Christopher Moyes MF IGRR Doctoral Fellowships (£173839.96 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
- 2012: Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation - Gift (£163800.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
- 2012: Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation - Gift (£163800.00 from Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation)
- 2012: Dissemination and evaluation of the prototype BIOPICCC toolkit (£25023.96 from Epsrc)
- 2010: Evaluating the implementation of a new psychiatric inpatient facility (£168131.00 from NIHR)
- 2009: BIOPICCC (£256926.10 from Epsrc)
- 2008: REVIEW OF RESEARCH EVIDENCE (£9820.14 from Health Protection Agency NE)
- 2007: MAPPING LINKS BETWEEN YOUNG PEOPLE (£60525.39 from The Nuffield Foundation)
- 2007: MIGRATION, HEALTH AND WELLBEING (£15898.26 from ESRC)