Profile: Paula Santana

Dr. Paula Santana, Professor, Instituto de Estudos Geograficos, Faculdade de Letras, Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal; Vice-President, Lisbon and Tagus Valley Coordination and Regional Development Agency; and Steering Committee member, Commission on Health Development, International Geographical Union. Her general area of research is the geography of health and well-being, with foci on social and spatial inequalities and neighbourhood influences on health in metropolitan areas.

Paula Santana was born in Portugal and earned all of her advanced degrees (Masters – 1986, PhD – 1993, and Agregation in Human Geography – 2002) at the University of Coimbra. Her PhD thesis addressed methodological approaches to the investigation of accessibility and utilisation of health services. She has been teaching at Coimbra since 1981 and achieved her present faculty rank in 2004. She is broadly interested in urban social geography, but her research centres on determinants of health, health behaviour, environmental and place effects on health. She also researches health inequalities and immigrant health and health service utilization. In teaching, she combines aspects of health geography, urban planning, and environmental risk factors. She became associated with the IGU Commission on Health and Development in 1995, and was first elected to the steering committee in 2001. She is also an external collaborator with the Social and Public Health Science Unit at MRC-Glasgow, and an advisor to WHO – Urban Planning, Environment and Health. Paula has taught in Macau, Brazil, the UK, Finland, and Spain. She works at the local, national and international levels.

Paula has numerous publications, including ten books, over 85 journal papers, ten book chapters, and 50 reports. Her writing may be found in academic journals such as Social Science Medicine, International Journal of Health Services, The New England Journal of Medicine, European Journal of Public Health, European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation, International Journal of Epidemiology, Demographic Research, and Annals of Epidemiology

Paula may be contacted at

The Instituto website is Most recent publications:

The link between local environment and obesity: a multilevel analysis in the Lisbon Metropolitan Area, Portugal, Social Science and Medicine (2009) (Santana, Santos Nogueira)

Analyzing differences in the magnitude of socioeconomic inequlaities in self-perceived health by countries of different political tradition in Europe, International Journal of Health Services (2009) (Borrel, et al. Santana)

Environment and Health in Urban Areas, in: Place, Sense of Place and Quality of Life, Eyles and Williams (eds.) (2008) (Santana Nogueira).

All causes and cardiovascular mortality in African migrants living in Portugal: evidence of large social inequalities, European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation (2008) (Harding, Teyhan, Rosato, Santana)

Updated: February 2009