School of Social and Political Science

Kat Smith

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Professor of Public Health Policy & Director of Research (SSPS)

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Chrystal Macmillan Building

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15a George Square

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PhD, University of Edinburgh, 2008; MSc (by Research), University of Edinburgh, 2004; MA (Hons) Geography, University of Edinburgh, 2002.

Background information

Over the past ten years Kat's main research focus has been the construction, translation and impact on policy of academic and other 'expert' knowledges. She is particularly interested in policies affecting public health (especially health inequalities). Kat's recent research explores: (i) the role that different genres of ideas (institutionalised, charismatic and vehicular) play in promoting or restricting policy change: (ii) how policy shapes research activities and the ideas promoted by academics to potential research 'users', including via funding opportunities (and perceptions of those opportunities); (iii) the ways in which large corporations influence policies affecting health outcomes (including by employing 'experts' and research-based ideas). Kat brought much of this work together in a 2013 book, entitled  Beyond Evidence Based Policy in Public Health: The Interplay of Ideas . This book is part of a book series, Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge and Policywhich Kat co-edits with  Sotiria Grek (suggestions for contributions to this series are welcome). She has also recently co-edited (with  Sarah Hill and  Clare Bambra Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives , published by Oxford University Press in 2016 which won  First Prize in Public Health in the 2016 BMA Medical Book Awards. Kat is currently Co-Director of  SKAPE (Centre for Science, Knowledge and Policy at Edinburgh) and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the interdisciplinary journal  Evidence & Policy.

In 2015, Kat completed a two-year project funded through an ESRC Future Research Leaders grant exploring the role of: (i) third sector organisations and private actors in mediating public health knowledge; and (ii) 'evidence tools' (e.g. impact assessments, systematic reviews, cost-benefit analysis) as means of improving the use of public health evidence in decision-making. In 2014, she was awarded a  Philip Leverhulme Prize for Sociology and Social Policy. These prizes are awarded by the  Leverhulme Trust "to recognise the achievement of outstanding researchers whose work has already attracted international recognition and whose future career is exceptionally promising." Kat is using the funding provided through this award to undertake research examining public perceptions of health inequalities using a national survey and deliberative democracy approaches - for more information about this research, please see the  project website. You can see Kat talking about some of her research  here here.

Kat's Edinburgh Research Explorer listing can be accessed  here.


Kat is based in the  Global Health Policy Unit, and lectures on the following courses: 'Population health and health policy', 'Social determinants of health & public policy' and 'Advocacy, lobbying and health policy'. 

Kat currently supervises the following seven PhD students:  Justyna Bandola-Gill (understanding and assessing knowledge exchange and research impact initiatives in UK university settings);  Rachel Barry (corporate interests in the legal marijuana sector); Taya Collyer (disciplinary differences in studying health inequalities); Katie Hirono (Supporting health and wellbeing through community-informed policymaking);  Blanca Kao (how non-health policymakers think about, and respond to, health issues at a local level in Scotland, including via Health Impact Assessment);  Rob Ralston (food policy networks in England and Scotland); and Alex Wright (the implementation of Scotland's national alcohol strategy at local level). Supervisees who have recently graduated with PhDs: Rachel Hendrick ('Managing or Maintaining Bias? Examining the System for Regulating Conflicts of Interest in Medical Journal Publishing'); & Becky Hewer ('"Our (In)Ability to Speak": Interpretations and Representations of Prostitution in an English Policy Context').



Smith, K.E., Bambra, C. and Hill, S.E. (2016) (Eds)  Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives . Oxford University Press. [ Awarded First Prize in Public Health in the BMA 2016 Medical Book Awards]

Smith, K.E. (2013) Beyond Evidence Based Policy in Public Health: The Interplay of Ideas  Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Hunter, D.J., Marks, L., Smith, K.E. (2010) The Public Health System in England.  Bristol: Policy Press.

Book series:

Smith, K.E. and  Grek, S. (ongoing - launched 2013/2014) Palgrave Studies in Science, Knowledge and Policy. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Editorials, comments and reviews

Smith, K.E., Collin, J., Hawkins, B., Hilton, S. & Moore, L. (2016) Editorial:  The pursuit of ignorance - The UK’s anti-lobbying clause will jeopardise evidence informed policy makingBMJ, 352 :i1446.

Smith, K.E., Dorfman, L., Freudenberg, N., Hawkins, B., Hilton, S., Razum, O., Weishaar, H. (2016)  Opinion: Tobacco, alcohol and processed food industries – why do public health practitioners view them so differently? Front. Public Health 4:64. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2016.00064.

Katikireddi, V.,  Smith, K.E., Stuckler, D. and McKee, M. (2016)  Perspectives: Devolution of power, revolution in public health? Journal of Public Health, Online first. DOI: 10.1093/pubmed/fdw031.

Smith, K.E. (2015) Book Review Essay:  Shaping global health policy: global social policy actors and ideas about health care systemsJournal of International and Comparative Social Policy, 32(1): 74-77.

Collin, J., Hill, S. and  Smith, K.E. (2015)  Comment: Merging alcohol giants threaten global healthBMJ, 351:h6087.

Smith, K.E. and Schrecker, T. (2015)  Theorising Health Inequalities: Introduction to a double special issueSocial Theory & Health, 13(3): 219–226.

Smith, K.E. and Collin, J. (2013)  Scotland and the public health politics of independence  BMJ 347:f7595 doi: 10.1136/bmj.f7595.

Katikireddi, S.V., Higgins, M.,  Smith, K.E. and Williams, G. (2013)  Editorial: Health Inequalities – The Need to Move Beyond Bad BehavioursJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 67(9): 715-716.

Special issues of journals

Smith, K.E. and Schrecker, T. (2015)  A double special issue of  Social Theory & Health focusing on theorising health inequalities. 

Journal Articles:

Smith, K.E.  & Anderson, R. (2018)  Understanding Lay Perspectives on Socioeconomic Health Inequalities in Britain: A meta-ethnographySociology of Health & Illness, 40(1): 146-170.

Smith, K.E. and Stewart, E. (2017)  We Need to Talk about Impact: Why Social Policy Academics need to Engage with the UK’s Research Impact AgendaJournal of Social Policy, 46(1): 109-127.  [Awarded the 2018 Cambridge University Press Award for Excellence in Social Policy Scholarship]

Boswell, C. and  Smith, K.E. (2017)  Rethinking Policy ‘Impact’: Four Models of Research-Policy RelationsPalgrave Communications, 4, Article Number 44 (2017).

Smith, K.E. and Stewart, E. (2017)  Academic Advocacy in Public Health: Disciplinary ‘Duty’ or Political ‘Propaganda’? Social Science & Medicine, 189: 35-43.

Cullen, D.,  Smith, K.E. and Collin, J. (2017)  ‘Half-Cut' Science: A qualitative examination of alcohol industry actors' use of peer-reviewed evidence in policy submissions on Minimum Unit Pricing’,  Evidence & Policy.

Collin, J., Hill, S., Eltanani, M., Plotnikova, E., Ralston, R.,  Smith, K.E. (2017)  Can public health reconcile profits and pandemics? An analysis of attitudes to commercial sector engagement in health policy and researchPLoS ONE 12(9): e0182612.

Hirono, K. and  Smith, K.E. (2017)  Australia’s $40 per pack cigarette tax plans: the need to consider equity (Special Communincation), Tobacco Control, Published Online First: 10 April 2017. doi: 10.1136/tobaccocontrol-2016-05360.

Wright, A.,  Smith, K.E. and Hellowell, M. (2017)  Policy lessons from health taxes: a systematic review of empirical studiesBMC Public Health17: 583.

Hellowell, M.,  Smith, K.E. and Wright, A. (2016)  Hard to Avoid but Difficult to Sustain: Scotland’s Innovative Health Tax on Large Retailers Selling Tobacco and AlcoholThe Milbank Quarterly, 94(4): 800- 831.

Shortt, N., Mitchell, R., Pearce, N. and  Smith, K.E. (2016)  Taking health geography out of the academy: measuring academic impactSocial Science & Medicine, 168(16): 265-272.

Garthwaite, K.,  Smith, K.E., Bambra, C. and Pearce, J. (2016)  Desperately Seeking Reductions in Health Inequalities: Perspectives of UK researchers on past, present and future directions in health inequalities researchSociology of Health & Illness, 38(3): 459–478.

Smith, K.E. (2015)  Understanding Responses to the Political Context of Health Inequalities in Research and Policy: How post-structural theories of power can helpSocial Theory & Health, 13(4): 355-76.

Stewart, E. and  Smith, K.E. (2015)  Black magic and gold dust: The epistemic and political uses of ‘evidence tools’ in public health policy-makingEvidence & Policy, 11(3): 415-37.

Scott-Samuel, A. and  Smith, K.E. (2015)  Fantasy Paradigms of Health Inequalities: utopian thinking? Social Theory & Health, 13(4): 418–36.

Smith, K.E., Fooks, G., Gilmore, A.B., Collin, J. and Weishaar, H. (2015) C orporate coalitions and policymaking in the European Union: How and why British American Tobacco promoted ‘Better Regulation’Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law. 40(2): 325-72.

Kapilashrami, A., Smith, K.E., Fustukian, S., Kandalik Eltanani, M., Laughlin, S., Robertson, T., Muir, J., Gallova, E. and Scandrett, E. (2015)  Social movements and public health advocacy in action: the UK people's health movementJournal of Public Health, advanced online access doi: 10.1093/pubmed/fdv085 (first published online: June 26, 2015).

Smith, K.E. and Kandlik Eltanani, M. (2015)  What kinds of policies to reduce health inequalities in the UK do researchers support? Journal of Public Health. 37(1): 6-17. [Editor’s Choice]

Smith, K.E. & Stewart, E. (2014).  Influencing policy - public health advocacy and health inequalitiesJournal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, 44(4), 316-321.

Smith, K.E. (2014)  The Politics of Ideas: The complex interplay of health inequalities research and policyScience and Public Policy, 41(5): 561-574 doi:10.1093/scipol/sct085.

Scott-Samuel, A., Bambra, C., Collins, C., Hunter, D.J., McCartney, G. and  Smith, K.E. (2014)  The impact of Thatcherism on health and wellbeing in BritainInternational Journal of Health Services, 44(1): 53–71.

Smith, K.E. (2013)  Understanding the Influence of Evidence in Public Health Policy: What can we learn from the 'tobacco wars'? Social Policy & Administration, 47(4): 382–398.

Smith, K.E., Kay, L. and Torres, J. (2013)  Think Tanks as Research Mediators? Case Studies from Public HealthEvidence & Policy, 9(3): 371-390.

Smith, K.E. and Katikireddi, S.V. (2013)  A Glossary of Theories for Understanding PolicymakingJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 67(2):198-202.

Smith, K.E. (2013)  Institutional Filters: The Translation and Re-Circulation of Ideas about Health Inequalities within PolicyPolicy & Politics, 41(1): 81-100.

Smith, K.E., Savell, E. & Gilmore, A. (2012)  What is known about tobacco industry efforts to influence tobacco tax? A systematic review of empirical studiesTobacco Control, 22(2):144–53.

Bauld, L., McKell, J., Hay, G., Carroll, C. &  Smith, K.E. (2012)  Benefits and employment: how problem drug users experience welfare and routes into workJournal of Social Policy, 41(4): 751-768.

Weishaar, H., Collin, J.,  Smith, K.E., Grüning, T., Mandal, S. & Gilmore, A. (2012)  Global Health Governance and the Commercial Sector: A Documentary Analysis of Tobacco Company Strategies to Influence the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco ControlPLoS Med 9(6): e1001249. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001249

Shirane, R.,  Smith, K.E., Ross, H., Silver, K.E., Williams, S. & Gilmore, A. (2012)  Tobacco Industry Manipulation of Tobacco Excise and Tobacco Advertising Policies in the Czech Republic: An Analysis of Tobacco Industry DocumentsPLoS Med 9(6): e1001248. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001248

Smith, K.E. (2012) Fools, Facilitators and Flexians: Academic Identities in Marketised EnvironmentsHigher Education Quarterly, 66(2): 155-73.

Smith, K.E. and Hellowell, M. (2012) Beyond Rhetorical Difference: A cohesive account of post-devolution developments in UK health policySocial Policy & Administration, 46(2): 178-198.

Smith, K.E. & Joyce, K.E. (2012) Capturing Complex Realities - Understanding Efforts to Achieve Evidence-Based Policy and Practice in Public HealthEvidence & Policy, 8(1): 57-78.

Bambra, C., Smith, K.E., Garthwaite, K., Joyce, K.E. Hunter, D.J. (2011) A labour of Sisyphus? Public policy and health inequalities research in the UK from the Black and Acheson Reports to the Marmot ReviewJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 65: 399-406.

Fooks, G., Gilmore, A.B., Smith, K.E., Collins, J., Holden, C. & Lee, K. (2011) Corporate Social Responsibility and Access to Policy Élites: an Analysis of Tobacco Industry DocumentsPLoS Medicine, 8(8): e1001076. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001076.

Bambra, C., Smith, K.E. (2010)"No longer deserving"? Sickness benefit reform and the politics of (ill) health in the UK. Critical Public Health, 20(1): 71-83.  

Smith, K.E., Fooks, G., Collin, J., Weishaar, H., Gilmore, A. (2010) Is the increasing policy use of Impact Assessment in Europe likely to undermine efforts to achieve healthy public policy? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 64(6): 478-487.

Smith, K.E.(2010) Research, Policy and Funding - Academic treadmills and the squeeze on intellectual spaces. The British Journal Of Sociology, 61(1): 176-195.  

Smith, K.E., Fooks, G., Collin, J., Weishaar, H., Mandal, S., Gilmore, A. B. (2010) "Working the system" -British American Tobacco's influence on the European Union Treaty and its implications for policy: an analysis of internal tobacco industry documents. PLoS Medicine, 7(1), e1000202.

Perkins, N., Smith, K.E., Hunter, D. J., Bambra, C., Joyce, K. (2010) "What counts is what works"? New Labour and partnerships in public health. Policy & Politics, 38(1): 101-117.  

Smith, K.E., Bambra, C., Joyce, K. (2010) 'Striking out': Shifting labour markets, welfare to work policy and the renegotiation of gender performances. Critical Social Policy, 30 (1): 74-98.     

Joyce, K.E., Smith, K.E., Henderson, G., Greig, G., Bambra, C. (2010) Patient perspectives of Condition Management Programmes as a route to better health, well-being and employability Family Practice, 27(1): 101-109.  

Joyce, K.E., Smith, K.E., Sullivan, C., Bambra, C. (2010) 'Most of industry's shutting down up here. . .': Employability initiatives to tackle worklessness in areas of low labour market demandSocial Policy & Society, 9(03):337-363.  

Smith, K. E., Gilmore, A. B., Fooks, G., Collin, J., Weishaar, H. (2009) Tobacco industry attempts to undermine Article 5.3 and the "good governance" trap. Tobacco Control,18(6): 509-511.  

Smith, K.E., Bambra, C., Joyce, K. E., Perkins, N., Hunter, D. J., Blenkinsopp, E. A. (2009) Partners in health? A systematic review of the impact of organizational partnerships on public health outcomes in England between 1997 and 2008Journal of Public Health, 31(2): 210-221.      

Harrington, B., Smith, K.E., Hunter, D., Marks, L., Blackman, T., McKee, L., Greene, A., Elliott, E., Williams, G. (2009) Health inequalities in England, Scotland and Wales: Stakeholders' accounts and policy compared. Public Health, 123(1): e24-e28.  

Smith, K.E., Hunter, D. J., Blackman, T., Elliott, E., Greene, A., Harrington, B. E., Marks, L., McKee, L., Williams, G. H. (2009) Divergence or convergence? Health inequalities and policy in a devolved Britain. Critical Social Policy, 29(2): 216-242.      

Blackman, T., Elliott, E., Greene, A., Harrington, B., Hunter, D., Marks, L., McKee, L., Smith, K.E., Williams, G. (2009) Tackling health inequalities in post-devolution Britain: Do targets matter? Public Administration, 87(4): 762-778.  

Smith, K.E.(2007) Health inequalities in Scotland and England: The contrasting journeys of ideas from research into policy. Social Science & Medicine, 64(7): 1438-1449.     

Smith, K.E. (2006) Problematising power relations in "elite" interviews. Geoforum, 37(4): 643-653.

Book chapters:

Ralston, R. and Smith, K.E. (in press) Congruence and incoherence: public health governance and policy in a devolved UK, Chapter 9, in Bevir & Waring (eds) Decentring Health Policy: Learning from British Experiences in Healthcare Governance. Forthcoming with Routledge in 2018.

Smith, K.E., Brown, K. and Foster, J. (in press) Alcohol related harm and health inequalities. Chapter in Bonner, A. (ed) Social Determinants of Health: An interdisciplinary approach to Social Inequality and Wellbeing. Forthcoming with Policy Press.

Smith, K.E. (2017) Beyond ‘evidence-based policy’ in a ‘post-truth’ world: the role of ideas in public health policy. Chapter 8 in Hudson, J., Needham, C. & Heins, E. (eds) Social Policy Review 29: Analysis and debate in social policy: pp153-76.

Smith, K.E. (2017) In their own words: What does qualitative research tell us about how people in the UK understand the impacts of socioeconomic disadvantage on their mental health and risk factors for suicide? A review of the available evidence. Chapter in Platt, S., Stace, S. and Morrissey, J. (eds.) Dying From Inequality: Socioeconomic Distadvantage and Suicidal Behaviour. London: Samaritans.

Smith, K.E. and Haux, T. (2017) Evidence-Based Policymaking. Chapter 8 in Greve, B. (ed.) Handbook of Social Policy Evaluation. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Smith, K.E., Hill, S. and Bambra, C. (2016) Background and Introduction: UK Experiences of Health Inequalities. Chapter 1 in Smith, K.E., Hill, S. and Bambra, C. Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives.

Smith, K.E. and Garthwaite, K. (2016) Contrasting views on ways forward for health inequalities researchers. Chapter 6 in Smith, K.E., Hill, S. and Bambra, C. Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives.

Barr, B., Bambra, C. and Smith, K.E. (2016) For the good of the cause: generating evidence to inform social policies that reduce health inequalities. Chapter 18 in in Smith, K.E., Hill, S. and Bambra, C. Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives.

Smith, K.E., Stewart, E., Donnelly, P. and McKendrick, B. (2016) Influencing policy with research – public health advocacy and health inequalities. Chapter 19 in Smith, K.E., Hill, S. and Bambra, C. Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives.

Smith, K.E., Hill, S. and Bambra, C. (2016) Where next for advcoates, researchers and policymakers trying to tackle health inequalities? Chapter 21 in Chapter 1 in Smith, K.E., Hill, S. and Bambra, C. Health Inequalities: Critical Perspectives.

Katikireddi, S.V. and Smith, K.E. (2014) Minimum Unit Pricing of Alcohol in Scotland in M. Hill (ed.) Studying Public Policy: An International ApproachBristol: Policy Press: 239-53.

Smith, K.E. & Bambra, C. (in press) 'British and Northern Irish Experiences' in Raphael, D. (ed.) Tackling Health Inequalities: Lessons from International Experiences. Toronto: CSPI.

Bambra, C., Smith, K.E. and Kennedy, L. (2008) Politics and Health, Chapter 8 in Naidoo, J. and Wills, J. (eds) Health Studies - An Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan: 257-286. 

Other publications:      

Smith, K.E. and Freeman, R. (2014) A New Politics of Knowledge? Exploring the contested boundaries between science, knowledge and policyLSE Impact Blog, 27th May 2014.

Smith, K.E. and Stewart, E. (2013) “Maybe we just need to be a little bit more… sexy?”: What is ‘public health advocacy’ and should health inequalities researchers be doing it? Cost of Living Blog, 8th November 2013.

Mandal, S., Gilmore, A.B., Collin, J., Weishaar, H., Smith, K.E. and McKee, M. (2012) Block, amend, delay: tobacco industry efforts to influence the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (2001/37/EC).

Smith, K.E. & Meer, N. (2012) REF's effort to make knowledge visible may have cloudy resultsTimes Higher Education Supplement, Thursday 23rd February 2012.

International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization (IARC). (In press) Handbook Volume 14 - Effectiveness of Tax and Price Policies for Tobacco Control. IARC: Lyon. [Smith, K.E. was one of the members of the Working Group which authored this handbook].  

Smith, K.E., Gilmore, A., Fooks, G. (2013) How and why tobacco companies have been promoting risk assessment in the USA and European Union. Panel included in Chapter 2 of Late Lessons from Early Warnings Volume 2. The European Environment Agency.

Smokefree Partnership (2010) The origin of EU Better Regulation - The Disturbing Truth. Brussels: the Smokefree Partnership. [This report was authored by Smith, K.E. and Gilmore, A. and published by the Smokefree Partnership for a launch event in the European Parliament.]      

ASH (2010) The smoke filled room: How big tobacco influences health policy in the UK. London: ASH.  [This report is largely based on research undertaken by Smith, K.E., Gilmore, A., Fooks, G., Weishaar, H. and Collin, J.]  

Gilmore A, Fooks G, Smith KE, Collin J. Tobacco companies set up smokescreen over lobbying activityGuardian 20th January 2010.     

Smith, K. E., Gilmore, A., Collin, J., & Fooks, G. (2008) Confidential Briefing: Tobacco industry influence on European Union policymaking: implications for Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. Supplied to non-governmental organizations and policymakers in advance of the World Health Organization Conference of the Parties to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, held in Durban, South Africa in November 2008.  

Smith, K.E. (2008) Health Inequalities in Scotland and England: The translation of ideas between research and policy. Ph.D. thesis at the University of Edinburgh.  

Joyce, K.E., Smith, K.E., Bambra, C. (2008) 'Tackling worklessness: evaluation of a multi-intervention worklessness and health programme in Sedgefield, County Durham.' Report prepared for Sedgefield Borough Council.

Hunter, D.J., Marks, L. and Smith, K.E. (2007) The Public Health System in England: A Scoping Study. A report commissioned by the NHS Service and Delivery Organisation.

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