Profile: Anne Ellaway

Dr. Anne Ellaway, Senior Research Scientist, Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Medical Research Council, Glasgow, Scotland, UK. Anne s research interests include exploring the processes by which features of the local social and physical environment might influence health and the ability to lead a healthy life, and investigating the relative effects upon health of different social indicators over time and place.

Anne Ellaway (formerly Sooman) BA Social Sciences (psychology), MSc Applied Social Sciences, PhD, started her academic career working as a researcher in the Department of Child Adolescent Psychiatry at Glasgow University in 1989. She joined the MRC Medical Sociology Unit in 1990 as a researcher working with Sally Macintyre on a variety of projects (ranging from non-paternity rates to the price of food in socially contrasting neighbourhoods in Glasgow) until 1992. In a desire to be closer to policy development on reducing health inequalities, Anne then left the Unit to work for Strathclyde Regional Council’s Policy Unit as their researcher in health and social policy. During her relatively short time in a policy making environment, it became clear to her that her efforts might be better spent generating high quality evidence to inform policy (as anecdote seemed to underpin many decisions at the time!) and so Anne subsequently rejoined the MRC Unit in 1994 working on the Social Spatial Patterning of Health programme. Anne is on the Editorial Boards of Health Place and the Open Urban Studies Journal. She is a member of the WHO International Expert Group on Housing Health, the SPARCOLL advisory group and is a Board member of the Scottish Development Centre for Mental Health. Anne is also a collaborator in the recently funded EDPHiS project, a multidisciplinary collaborative research project (involving social and environmental scientists) which aims to support the development of public policy in Scotland.

Anne is currently a grant holder on two projects funded by NPRI. One is looking across all of mainland Scotland to examine firstly, the extent to which there is equitable distribution of the availability and access (by different modes of transport) to physical activity opportunities (e.g. sports centres, swimming pools and green space); secondly, to examine if the distribution of opportunity is associated with physical activity levels; and thirdly, to determine if this, in turn, is associated with obesity. The other NPRI project is examining, across England, whether ethnic differences in physical activity and dietary patterns, BMI and obesity status are related to features of the neighbourhoods people live in, such as ethnic density, deprivation, food retail environment and physical activity opportunities. These ecologic data will be merged to the individual records on the Health Survey for England. The distribution of resources and the mean distance from to the nearest resource will be explored in relation to deprivation and ethnic density. Different measures of ethnic density will be used to reflect concentration and clustering in particular areas. Multilevel models will be used to examine how individual characteristics (compositional factors) and area-level variables (contextual factors) relate to ethnic differences in outcomes.

Anne may be contacted at

Updated: May 2009