Photo of Dr Sara Ronzi

Dr Sara Ronzi PhD, MSc (Distinction), BSc (hons), AFHEA

Research Associate in Global Public Health Public Health and Policy

About

Personal Statement

I am passionate about public health and reducing health inequalities. My main research interests include strengthening and developing innovative methods that meaningfully engage with communities, inform policy and practice, and address current gaps in public health evaluation. Specific interests are how the places and communities we live in shape our health and place-based public health strategies.

My research to date has revolved around addressing two main challenges in public health research: (i) the need to elucidate the health effects of community-based interventions; and (ii) the need to better engage disadvantaged communities and decision makers in research. I used photovoice as a community-based participatory method to explore public health strategies to promote Age-Friendly Cities in the UK, and clean household energy in Sub-Saharan Africa.

My interest in the environmental determinants of health started since my PhD (2013-2016). In fact, my PhD was focused on the evaluation of population-wide interventions to influence the environmental determinants of health (the WHO Age-Friendly Cities initiative in Liverpool and UK cities). During this evaluation, I applied innovative qualitative methods (photovoice) to engage with older people and city stakeholders in exploring respect and social inclusion in the urban context. I also conducted a systematic review looking at the effectiveness and pathways to health impact of initiatives promoting social inclusion in older people. Photovoice is a research method which comprises participation, action and collaborative inquiry often employed as an advocacy tool to solve public health problems. By photographing community health issues and discussing these in groups, photovoice aims to engage participants in ‘seeing the world and transforming it’ (Wang & Burris, 1997).

This work and the expertise that I have developed has led to further research on applying photovoice methods in LMICs, as a part of the LPG Adoption in Cameroon Evaluation Studies. This study engaged community members living in South-West Cameroon in exploring factors influencing LPG uptake for cooking and in finding solutions to overcome some of the barriers identified. In these projects, photovoice, with the photographic exhibition event, has showed to be a great tool to enable participants to present their views to key stakeholders in an innovative and engaging format, and link with policy makers.Consequently, the method is now a core component of the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) ‘CLEAN-Air (Africa)’ programme which extends this work in Kenya, Cameroon and Ghana, where I am leading this study component.

In October 2018, I joined the NIHR Global Health Research Group (CLEAN-Air(Africa) as the participatory research and public engagement lead. Previously, I worked as a Lecturer on the Master of Public Health (online and on campus programmes) and as Research Associate on the ‘LPG Adoption in Cameroon Evaluation (LACE) Studies’. My commitment to continued professional development regarding under- and post-graduate teaching was recognised with the award of Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Association status (2018).

Prizes or Honours

  • Winner, Italian Award. Category: Scientific Research. 'Premio Pavoncella alla Creatività Femminile – Ricerca Scientifica' (Associazione ArteOltre, 2019)
  • Faculty of Health and Life Sciences Public Engagement Award (2nd place) (University of Liverpool, 2018)
  • Winner Best Paper in Heart 2016 Award (Heart BMJ, 2017)
  • Chair of the Early Career Researchers (ECR) Subcommittee (Society for Social Medicine , 2016)
  • Most commended for the University Staff Award 'Outstanding Contribution to Public Engagement' (University of Liverpool, 2016)
  • Chair-elect of the Early Career Researchers (ECR) Subcommittee (Society for Social Medicine , 2015)
  • Best poster prize winner (session A) - Society for Social Medicine conference (Society for Social Medicine, 2015)
  • Best conference presentation - PGR conference, Liverpool (University of Liverpool, 2014)