Dr Pippa Grenfell


Assistant Professor
of Public Health Sociology

15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

020 7958 8266

I have worked at LSHTM since 2007. My work focuses mostly on how legal, political, social, cultural and economic contexts shape the safety, health and rights of marginalised groups and communities, particularly sex workers. My primary expertise is in qualitative methods but I also work in collaboration with colleagues across diverse disciplines to carry out mixed methods research. I'm committed to critical, feminist, participatory approaches which value the knowledge and expertise of communities, and which challenge the boundaries between the 'academy' and the 'community'.

I have a PhD (Public Health Sociology) and an MSc (Control of Infectious Diseases) from LSHTM, and a BSc (Biological Sciences) from the University of Edinburgh.

Prior to joining LSHTM, I worked with Merlin (now Save the Children) in Myanmar and with the Health Protection Agency (now Public Health England) in the UK.



Faculty of Public Health and Policy
Department of Public Health, Environments and Society


I currently teach on and co-organize the Sexual Health MSc module at LSHTM, in conjunction with Mitzy Gafos. In previous years, I have led seminars on the Principles of Social Research module and lectured on the Sexual Health module, both of which form part of the MSc in Public Health.

I tutor, supervise and advise masters students studying Public Health. I supervise and sit on the advisory group for PhD students who use qualitative and/or mixed methods to explore issues of sex work, gender, sexuality, HIV and/or sexual health.


I co-lead the East London Project (, with Dr Lucy Platt - participatory mixed-methods research assessing how removing sex work-related police enforcement could affect sex workers' safety, health and access to services, in East London. The project involves qualitative methods (ethnographic walks, interviews), epidemiology and mathematical modelling, within a participatory research approach: co-researchers and advisors include current and former sex workers, as well as people who have worked closely with sex workers in sex worker organisations and support services. I am leading the qualitative component of the East London Project, under the guidance of Professor Maggie O'Neill (University College Cork), working with a team of 4 co-researchers. The project is a collaboration between LSHTM, University College Cork, the University of Bristol, Imperial College and Homerton University Hospital, in partnership with Open Doors and National Ugly Mugs. The research is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) from 2017-2019. The results will be used to advocate for laws, policies and practices that protect sex workers' safety, health and broader rights.

Other projects I have recently been involved in include:

- A qualitative process evaluation of MobPrESH, a peer-led pilot project working with women and non-binary people in England (Bristol, London, Yorkshire), particularly Black women, people of colour, trans women and migrants, inclusive of sex workers, to mobilise around PrEP and sexual health (co-investigator: Sabrina Rafael; commissioned by Prepster).

- Rapid, participatory qualitative research for charity Doctors of the World UK, to inform the development of a tailored health and support service for street sex workers in East London (co-investigator: Dr Rachel Stuart (Brunel University).

- The Freyja Study, a qualitative research project exploring the views and experiences of people who have used the app 'Natural Cycles' when trying to conceive (, with Dr Rebecca French (LSHTM), Nerissa Tilouche (LSHTM), Professor Jill Shawe (University of Plymouth). We used the results to improve understanding of how people are using technology to conceive, and to make recommendations to health professionals and policy makers. 

- A review of the qualitative, quantitative and community literature on how (de)criminalisation and policing affect sex workers' health, safety and access to care, in collaboration with Dr Lucy Platt. This project was steered by an international advisory committee of sex workers and academics, and is funded by the Open Society Foundations. 

- A review of sex workers' experiences of mental ill-health, violence and murder, in comparison to other ‘risky’ professions (PI: Prof Teela Sanders, other investigators: Dr PG Macioti, Dr Stewart Cunningham, Dr Lucy Platt; funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award) 

- The Pathways Project, a qualitative longitudinal study exploring how people living with HIV access, experience and engage in care and treatment, and how this is shaped by social and systemic contexts over time (PI: Prof Tim Rhodes; other investigators: Siri Egede; part of a UCL-PHE-LSHTM Health Protection Research Unit on STIs and blood-borne viruses:…)

- El Dia a Dia, a qualitative study exploring sex workers' experiences of everyday violence and resistance in Lima, Peru, in collaboration with sex worker, LGBT and trans* rights activists in Lima, in contribution to my PhD (Supervisors: Prof Cicely Marston (LSHTM), Dr Ximena Salazar and Prof Carlos Caceres (Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia; funded via MRC Population Health Scientist fellowship). 

Previously I have worked on qualitative and mixed-methods projects exploring: the social and structural determinants of sex workers' health, in London; gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men's views and experiences of the UK's blood donation rules; and the quality and accessibility of integrated HIV and TB services for people who inject drugs in Portugal. 

Research Area
Health inequalities
Health policy
Occupational health
Public health
Sexual health
Social and structural determinants of health
Mixed methods
Qualitative methods
Spatial analysis
Substance use
Social Sciences
Social Policy
Disease and Health Conditions
United Kingdom
European Union
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)

Selected Publications

Policing and public health interventions into sex workers' lives: necropolitical assemblages and alternative visions of social justice
Grenfell P; Stuart R; Eastham J; Gallagher A; Elmes J; Platt L; O'Neill M
Critical Public Health
The Effect of Systemic Racism and Homophobia on Police Enforcement and Sexual and Emotional Violence among Sex Workers in East London: Findings from a Cohort Study.
Platt L; Bowen R; Grenfell P; Stuart R; Sarker MD; Hill K; Walker J; Javarez X; Henham C; Mtetwa S
Journal of urban health : bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine
Effect of police enforcement and extreme social inequalities on violence and mental health among women who sell sex: findings from a cohort study in London, UK.
Elmes J; Stuart R; Grenfell P; Walker J; Hill K; Hernandez P; Henham C; Rutsito S; Sarker MD; Creighton S
Sexually Transmitted Infections
Left out in the cold: the extreme unmet health and support needs of street sex workers in Newham, East London
Stuart R; Grenfell P
Left out in the cold: the extreme unmet health and support needs of street sex workers in Newham, East London
(Not) talking about fertility: the role of digital technologies and health services in helping plan pregnancy. A qualitative study.
French RS; Shawe J; Tilouche N; Earle S; Grenfell P
BMJ sexual & reproductive health
Fertility and digital technology: narratives of using smartphone app 'Natural Cycles' while trying to conceive.
Grenfell P; Tilouche N; Shawe J; French RS
Sociology of Health & Illness
Examining and Challenging the Everyday Power Relations of Sex Workers' Health
Grenfell P; Platt L; Stevenson L
Realising Justice for Sex Workers: An Agenda for Change
Associations between sex work laws and sex workers' health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies.
Platt L; Grenfell P; Meiksin R; Elmes J; Sherman SG; Sanders T; Mwangi P; Crago A-L
PLOS Medicine
The social life of HIV care: On the making of 'care beyond the virus'
Rhodes T; Egede S; Grenfell P; Paparini S; Duff C
Decriminalising sex work in the UK.
Grenfell P; Eastham J; Perry G; Platt L
BMJ (Clinical research ed)
Men who Sell Sex in Peru: Evolving Technology and Sexual Cultures.
Caceres CF; Bayer AM; Gomero A; Grenfell PM; Salazar X
Men Who Sell Sex: Global Perspectives.
See more Publications