Dr Eva Elliott

Co-Director, Straeon

Honorary Research Fellow, Cardiff University

Eva Elliott is an Honorary Research Fellow at Cardiff University School of Social Sciences, and remains active as a researcher with an external independent research company.

Eva’s academic interests have focused on health inequalities and the unjust social and economic determinants that sustain these.  She has conducted, or advised on, a multiplicity of large scale national evaluations of community or place based interventions, most of which have had some focus on the collective resources and powers required to improve health and wellbeing and to influence neighbourhood and wider systemic social change.

She has also held other positions, including Director of the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (now based within Public Health Wales); PI and CI on two major Connected Communities projects (a ten-year cross Research Council programme (led by the Arts and Humanities Research Council on the changing nature of communities and the role they play in enhancing wellbeing and in social and economic change); academic lead for one of Cardiff University’s flagship engagement projects: Strong Communities, Healthier People; and the academic lead for the Cultural Participation Research Network in Wales.   
















  • Mallinson S, Popay J, Elliott e et al (2003) Historical data for health inequalities research: a research note, Sociology 37: 771-780


  • Elliott. E., Watson. A, and Harries, U. (2002) Harnessing Expertise: Involving Peer Interviewers in Qualitative Research with Hard-to-reach Populations. Health Expectations 5(2):172-8


  • Elliott E., Watson A. (2000) Children’s voices in health care planning. In: Glasper E.A., Ireland L. (eds) Evidence-based Child Health Care. Palgrave, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-333-98239-6_7

Productive Margins: regulating for engagement. 

Principal Investigator: Professor Morag McDermont
Co-investigators: Angela Piccini, Tim Cole, Ros Sutherland, Wendy Larner of the University of Bristol; Eva Elliott, Martin Innes, Emma Renold, of Cardiff University
Collaborators: Building the Bridge (Bristol) , Single Parent Action Network (Bristol) , Coexist (Bristol), 3G’s Development Trust (Merthyr Tydfil) , Southville Community Development Association (Bristol), South Riverside Community Development Centre (Cardiff)
Funder: ESRC

Duration: From 2013 to 2018

Community engagement needs radical re-design. All too often decision-making is top-down and decision makers do not adequately engage, deeming ‘community engagement’ a passive exercise. Communities are often only invited to comment on decisions which have already been made, leaving isolated and excluded communities feeling even more powerless, and adding to dislocation between politicians and the electorate.

Starting life in April 2013, the Productive Margins: Regulating for Engagement research programme was a co-production venture comprising community organisations and social enterprises in Bristol and South Wales and academics from the University of Bristol and Cardiff University.
A five year project, the aim was to co-produce new forms of engagement in decision-making, not just across politics and policy but also the arts.

Eva Elliott’s research projects included:

Weathering the Storm: The Hidden Value of Community Anchor Organisations

See also Anchor Peoples installation with Artstation



Mapping, Making, and Mobilising in Merthyr


Representing communities: developing the creative power of people to improve health and well-being.

Principal Investigator: Prof Gareth Williams (later Dr Eva Elliott)
Co-investigators: Dr Eva Elliott, Cardiff University; Dr Clare Barker, University of Leeds; Dr Qulsom Fazil, Birmingham University; Dr Sarah-Anne Munoz, University of the Highlands and Islands; Dr Roiyah Saltus, University of South Wales; Dr Peter Seaman,Glasgow Centre for Population Health
Collaborators: 3 Gs Development Trust; Birmingham City Council; Butetown History of Arts; Cardiff Council; Centre for Regeneration Excellence Wales; Glasgow Life; NHS; Greater Glasgown and Clyde; NHS Highlands; National Theatre Wales
Duration: From 2013 to 2017

The aim of this project was to establish how community representations produced through creative arts practices (e.g. story-telling, performance, visual art) can be used as forms of evidence to inform health-related policy and service development. This study will develop methods for using creative art forms as a mode of communication and knowledge exchange.
The project took place across five distinct case-study communities in Wales, Scotland and England and connect these to relevant policy-makers, researchers and arts practitioners in each country. We explored how perceptions and experiences of community health and well-being vary across time and changing circumstances, and how communities and the people living in them are represented in relation to key differences and divisions relating to gender, class, ethnicity and age.
The research critically analysed existing representations (both artistic and ‘formal’) of each community, focusing on the factors that influence health and well-being, in order to develop frameworks and methods for integrating these analyses into qualitative research and policy discourse.
We considered how representations vary in their form and content, and we also looked at the fields of production (who created it?), the fields of reception (who is seeing it?) and the field of interpretation (how do people respond to it?).

See also: The People’s Platform: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23udn6LYncU

The Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU)


WHIASU began as a capacity building programme to test the effectiveness of the process in Wales.  A commitment to Health Impact Assessment (HIA) was evident in the document Better Health, Better Wales (1998) at the dawning of a new Welsh Assembly Government. It was part of a wider commitment to addressing health inequalities through action on the wider determinants of health.  Health was not just seen as the responsibility of the NHS but of the sectors definitely responsible.  The process is also proactive in that it is built into the process of planning policies, programmes and projects in ways that minimise risks and maximise opportunities to support wellbeing, particularly for those most vulnerable to ill health.  WHIASU was originally funded for two years and led by Cardiff University School of Social Sciences and the School of Public Health, Epidemiology and Statistic in Cardiff University Medical School.  Subsequently it was funded as a rolling programme to develop and support its use, particularly within Local Authorities and regeneration initiatives, throughout Wales.  It is now embedded in Public Health Wales and Health Impact Assessment became a legal requirement for some developments as part of the Public Health Act (Wales) 2017. 

Eva Elliott was employed at the beginning in 2002 and became it’s Director between 2011-2014

Neighbourhood, Social Deprivation and Mental Health: the mediating role of social cohesion


This study built on two previous studies conducted by some of the co-applicants: the Housing and Neighbourhoods and Health project (HANAH) funded by the MRC and EPSRC, and the Caerphilly Health and Social Needs Study funded by WORD. The primary findings from these studies were first, that small area contextual ‘neighbourhood’ measures of low social capital are a significant determinant of poor mental health.  Secondly, that income deprivation and low social cohesion measured at small area level (enumeration district) were significantly and independently associated low mental health. Thirdly, that living in an income deprived area with high social cohesion was associated with better mental health than living in a high income deprived area with low social cohesion.  This suggests that high levels of small area social cohesion could modify or mitigate the damage that small-area deprivation has on mental health.  However, little is known about the pathways through which this may occur.

Developing the findings of the Caerphilly Health and Social Needs Study the purpose of this qualitative research was to explore the meaning and significance of these findings and to develop better explanations for the processes underlying these associations.  In order to explore in detail the micro-processes that take place at a neighbourhood level the study was located in one electoral division, or ward, characterised as having high levels of deprivation in Caerphilly. 

Performance Assessment and Wicked Issues: the case of health inequalities.  



This study compared work on tackling health inequalities in localities across England, Wales and Scotland. Since devolution these countries have diverged in their approaches to both health policy and performance management, so the project provided opportunities to explore these differences and their implications. The study involved two phases of interviews with key stakeholders, enabling an analysis to be undertaken of the discourses that are in play and how these differ across countries, localities, sectors, professional roles and time. For example, are targets influencing how upstream or downstream the public health approaches are, and what is the balance between national and local priorities? The interviews were supplemented by statistical and performance management data from the localities to look at the ‘fit’ between the local discourses and evidence about health inequalities.



Representing Communities showcase and knowledge exchange AHRC (co-investigator) £56,581 April 2014-July 2014

Representing communities: developing the creative power of people to improve health and well-being. AHRC/ESRC Connected Communities programme:  Communities, Cultures, Health and Wellbeing Research Grants (co-investigator) £1.5 million July 2013-July 2016.

Productive Margins: regulating for engagement.  ESRC/AHRC Community mobilisation and engagement programme (co-investigator) £2.4 million April 2013-April 2018.

Housing and health evidence review for health impact assessment Public Health Wales.   Public Health Wales (PI) £15.5K April 2013 – June 2013

A review of theories, concepts and interventions relating to community-level strengths and their impact on health and well being (AHRC) PI £40K March 2011- October 2011.

Knowledge spaces and public social science ESRC Seminar Series (co-investigator) £15K May 2011 – April 2013.

The Impact of Economic Downturns on Health. Welsh Government (PI) £30K, March 2009-December 2009

Neighbourhood, social deprivation and mental health: the mediating role of social cohesion. Welsh Office for R&D in Health and Social Care (WORD (PI), £105,000 March 2007- September 2008

Evaluation of Community Food Co-ops. Welsh Government (PI) £39,676 April 2005-April 2006

Final Phase Evaluation of Health Living Centres in Wales Welsh Gov (PI) Elliott (PI) £24,402

Welsh Health Impact Assessment Support Unit Public Health Wales (Director 2011-214) (2003 – 2014) £65,000 per annum (£520,000 total)

New Opportunities Fund & Welsh Assembly Government. National Evaluation of Healthy Living Centres (Williams G.H, Elliott E).  £60,000. (2002-2005)

Chief Medical Officer for Wales. Health Impact Assessment: its impact on skills, knowledge and action (PI).  £6,400. (2003-2004)

A literature review of the impact of social capital and community development projects on the health and well-being of children and young people, (co-investigator) Welsh Office for R&D in Health and Social Care, 2002 (Elliott E, Lester C, Smith B and Williams G) £7,423


  • BA Hons (First) Philosophy, University of Manchester 1984
  • PhD Philosophy,  University of Manchester  1993 (Community and Mental Health)

Employment History

  • 1994 – 99 Research Fellow, Public Health Research and Resource Unit, University of Salford
  • 2000 – 02 Freelance researcher, Cardiff
  • 2002 – 03 (September) Research Associate, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
  • October 2003 – September 2005) Senior Research Associate, Cardiff Institute of Society, Health and Ethics(CISHE), School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University
  • October 2005 – September 2010 RCUK Academic Fellow in Social and Economic Change and Health.
  • 2010 – 2016 Lecturer in Social Sciences (Also Director of the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit (WHIASU) (from 2011- 2014 Director of the Wales Health Impact Support Unit, from 2014 –  2016 Director of Cardiff Institute of Social Health and Well Being)
  • 2016 – 2018 Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences – (located in the Wales Institute of Social & Economic Research, Data & Methods)