Prof Cicely Marston

Professor of Public Health

United Kingdom

I lead the DEPTH research group which brings together scholarship centered on community participation in health. Our multi-million pound programme of work is now coming to an end.

I have an overarching interest in interdisciplinarity and methodology, working across disciplines and sectors to understand complex problems, as well as developing methods to inform interventions and improve evaluations. My research often focuses on sexual and reproductive health and equity, as well as more general areas of health, particularly attending to the ways different aspects of context – including processes of marginalization – influence health, health promotion and healthcare.

I hold an undergraduate degree in Human Sciences from Oxford University, and from LSHTM a Medical Demography MSc and an interdisciplinary PhD and postdoc in young people's sexual practice, participatory health promotion, and sexuality education, with fieldwork in Mexico City. I spent some time at Imperial College London conducting research and running a Public Health MSc, and returned to LSHTM in 2005.


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


Centre for Evaluation
Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health


I teach on the following modules: Sociological Approaches to Health, Family Planning, Sexual Health, and Qualitative Methodologies. I supervise PhD and DrPH students. I have also taught on Methodology, Epidemiology, Demography, Ethics, and computing courses and modules.


I lead interdisciplinary work on complex interventions, sexual and reproductive health and community participation, sexual behaviour (including coercion), particularly of young people, transitions to adulthood, contraception and abortion, healthcare improvement for marginalised populations, and community participation in health. I also work with various external organisations, including the World Health Organization in these areas.

Under my directorship, the DEPTH research group has developed the 'DEPTH approach' to co-producing high quality research with diverse groups of people, including policymakers, clinicians, community members, patients and other stakeholders. The approach includes an easy-to-communicate framework which ensures research is embedded into co-production processes, rather than adding co-production onto research business-as-usual (to be published soon). We take an inclusive, equity-orientated approach with supporting work including our inclusive authorship guidelines which have been widely used by teams internationally, including adapted versions used in sectors outside health.

Selected past projects include:

Routes: new ways to talk about Covid-19 for better health. This was a rapid, responsive, co-produced research project with Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities and migrant workers in precarious jobs, looking at experiences during and responses to the pandemic. The project involved both in-depth academic analyses (ongoing) and also rapid policy insights for urgent response by the UK Dept Health and Social Care/Test and Trace.

This sickle cell life: voices and experiences of young people with sickle cell. This was funded by NIHR and was a co-produced project with young people, carers and clinicians that explored life and care transitions to adulthood for young people with sickle cell.

The sixteen 18 project, funded by ESRC, examined young people's sexual practices and meanings attached to those practices. The work has been attracting media coverage from when it was published in 2014 until the present day, particularly relating to our findings on sexual coercion.

ACCESS (Approaches to Complex and Challenging Environments for Sustainable Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights), was a £21 million consortium designed to improve sexual and reproductive health and rights for marginalised populations in complex and challenging environments, including humanitarian settings - implementation was curtailed by the UK aid cuts. In the lifetime of the programme we were able to generate crucial work that has helped us develop the DEPTH approach.

I led the 10-year LSHTM partnership with NIHR CLAHRC for Northwest London, researching participation and engagement of patients and members of the the public in healthcare quality improvement and was technical lead on WHO recommendations on community participation in maternal and newborn health promotion. This combination of our empirical data collection and evidence synthesis work has helped inform the Global Strategy for Women's, Children's and Adolescents' Health.

Most of my papers are available open access, many via LSHTM research online. If you can't find the paper you need, please email me.

Research Area
Inclusive community development
Health education and promotion
Sexual health
Reproductive health
Complex interventions
Research methodology
United Kingdom

Selected Publications

Community participation is crucial in a pandemic.
Neglect of STIs and infertility undermines family planning programmes.
BMJ Sexual & Reproductive Health
Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Among Young People—a Qualitative Study Examining the Role of Comprehensive Sexuality Education
MAKLEFF, S; Garduño, J; Zavala, RI; Barindelli, F; Valades, J; Billowitz, M; Silva Márquez, VI; MARSTON, C;
Sexuality Research and Social Policy
‘Slow co-production’ for deeper patient involvement in health care
The Journal of Health Design
Fertility regulation as identity maintenance: Understanding the social aspects of birth control.
Journal of health psychology
Community participation for transformative action on women's, children's and adolescents' health.
MARSTON, C; Hinton, R; Kean, S; Baral, S; Ahuja, A; Costello, A; Portela, A;
Bulletin of the World Health Organization
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