Photo of Professor Benjamin Barr

Professor Benjamin Barr PhD

Professor in Applied Public Health Research Public Health, Policy & Systems


    Personal Statement

    I am a Professor in Applied Public Health. My research focuses on using natural experiments to evaluate the health inequalities impact of local and national social, welfare, economic and health policies. I have a particular interest in research that enables local government to promote health equity by addressing the social determinants of health. My recent research has included assessing the health inequalities impact of NHS resource allocation policy and the English health inequalities strategy, demonstrating the link between welfare reforms and adverse mental health outcomes and evaluating the impact of multiple local authority, NHS and community initiatives that aim to reduce health inequalities.

    From 2020, I took over from Professor Dame Margaret Whitehead as the Head of the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Policy Research on Determinants of Health Equity, hosted in the Department of Public Health, Policy and Systems. The Centre’s work for WHO has encompassed a full range of issues from ethics to action, including concepts and principles of equity for health, strategies for tackling social inequalities in health, and an initiative to develop indicators of policy progress across Europe.

    Between 2010 to 2015 I was a NIHR Research Fellow and NHS Consultant in Public Health. Prior to this I studied anthropology as an undergraduate at University College London, trained and worked as a nurse and undertook post graduate studies in public health and epidemiology at LSHTM and the University of Liverpool. After a number of years working on humanitarian and infectious disease control programmes in post-conflict countries, I returned to work in applied public health in the UK for the NHS and Health Protection Agency before taking up an academic post.

    Areas of potential PhD supervision:
    Resource allocation:
    Understanding how policies that effect the distribution of resources for public services (e.g health services, local government, education) influence differences in health between places. For example using econometric methods to estimate the relationship between resource inputs and health outcomes or applying simulation techniques (e.g microsimulation, systematic dynamic models) to model the likely impact on health inequalities of changes to resource allocation policy.

    Local economic strategies.
    Understanding how different approaches to regional economic development influence differences in health between places. This could include differences in planning, infrastructure and transport development, procurement policies, skills development, regulation or active labour market programmes.

    Developing methods to evaluate natural experiments using linked data.
    Developing and validating alternative approaches for evaluating local public health interventions and health service redesign using whole population linked health, social care and other data. For example applying matching, difference-in-difference, synthetic control and other methods.

    Funded Fellowships

    • NIHR Doctoral Fellowship (National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR), 2010 - 2015)