Dr Ruth Ponsford

BA(Hons) MA PhD

Assistant Professor


15-17 Tavistock Place
United Kingdom

0207 958 8101

I am Assistant Professor in School Health Intervention Research in the Department of Public Health Environments and Society (PHES).  I have recently completed a pilot cluster RCT of a new relationships and sex education programme for secondary schools in England that aims to improve adolescent sexual health.  Prior to this, I worked with the School for Public Health Research at LSHTM (SPHR@L) on phase 1 & 2 of the Communities in Control (CiC) study - an independent evaluation of the the impact on health inequalities and their social determinants of a major area-based community empowerment initiative. For more information see:

Before joining in LSHTM in 2014, I worked for the Terence Higgins Trust (THT) managing delivery of the National Chlamydia Screening Programme (NCSP) in health services in south west London.  I have also worked on the monitoring and evaluation of various STI screening initiatives throughout England for the charity Brook, who provide sexual health and wellbeing services for young people under 25.

I hold an undergraduate degree in Anthropology and Sociology and a Masters degree in Social Research.  MY PhD in Sociology was a qualitative study of the experiences of low-income young mothers living in the city of Bristol, England.



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


Centre for Evaluation
Centre for Maternal Adolescent Reproductive & Child Health (MARCH)


I am deputy module organiser for the Principles of Social Research (PSR) module and a personal tutor on the MSc Public Health. At the School I also teach on the Qualitative Methodologies, Sexual Health and Evaluation of Public Health Interventions modules.

In addition, I am a visiting lecturer on the MA in Childhood and Youth Studies at Sussex University and an Advanced Skills Tutor (AST) for the Brilliant Club, a charity that seeks to increase the number of children from under-represented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities.


My main areas of research are adolescent health and wellbeining and collective control as a mechanism for addressing health inequalities and their social determinants.  My work has focussed on the experience of teenage pregnancy and parenting, school-based interventions to improve health (particularly sexual health) and community empowerment. 

I am currently working with Professor Chris Bonell on a systematic review of the impact on adolescent substance use and violence of interventions that modify the school environment.

I have methodological interests in the evaluation and particularly the use of realist and qualitative methods in the evaluation of complex public health interventions and the use of creative qualitative methods in research more broadly.  I also have interests in the understanding use of different forms of evidence in public health policy and practice and co-production in intervention design and research.

Research Area
Complex interventions
Health inequalities
Public health
Sexual health
Adolescent health
Evidence use
Qualitative methods
Reproductive health
Social Sciences
Social Policy
United Kingdom

Selected Publications

Dilemmas of school-based relationships and sexuality education for and about consent
Bragg S; Ponsford R; Meiksin R; Emmerson L; Bonell C
Sex Education
Putting context centre stage: evidence from a systems evaluation of an area based empowerment initiative in England
Orton L; Halliday E; Collins M; Egan M; Lewis S; Ponsford R; Powell K; Salway S; Townsend A; Whitehead M
Critical Public Health
See more Publications