General resources

An annotated bibliography of selected journal articles and reports presenting different perspectives on the concept of resilience and place-based action to reduce health inequalities. There are also links to selected websites.

Articles and Reports

The concept of resilience

Brown, D. D. and Kullig, J. C. 1996/97. The concepts of resiliency: Theoretical lessons from community research. Health and Canadian Society, 4 (1): 29 – 52.

The authors explore how the notion of resilience as developed in environmental and psychological disciplines can be made theoretically and practically relevant to projects of social change. They introduce the idea of resilience as “a fundamental human potential which is both enabled and constrained by the social contexts people construct”. They focus on collective, rather than individual, resilience linking it to community competence, control and the capacity to take collective action. They highlighted two forms of action: 1) recovery from negative events; and, 2) to transformation of the factors contributing to the occurrence of negative events.

Kirmayer, L. J., Dandeneau, S., Marshall, E., Phillips, M. K. & Williamson, K. J. 2011. Rethinking resilience from indigenous perspectives. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 56 (2): 84 – 91.

This paper is a short introduction to the topic of narrative, and more broadly cultural, resilience. The authors argue that narrative resilience – positive stories of identity, history and transformation – contribute to more general resilience at personal and collective levels amongst indigenous peoples in the face of colonisation and genocide.

Mitchell, R. 2014. Population Resilience. In W.C. Cockerham, R. Dingwall and S. R. Quah (eds). The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society, First Edition. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

This is a succinct overview of population resilience as it relates to public health. The text covers a lot of ground in a short space. It discusses the definitions of resilience, the concept’s attributes, the methodological difficulties in investigating resilience, and offers a short overview of factors shown to promote resilience.

Norris, F. H., Stevens, S. P., Pfefferbaum, B., Wyche, K. F. & Pfefferbaum, R. L. 2008. Community Resilience as a Metaphor, Theory, Set of Capacities, and Strategy for Disaster Readiness. American Journal of Community Psychology, 41: 127 – 150.

This paper presents a model of community resilience to disasters, (e.g. earthquakes, military conflicts, terrorist attacks). comprising four interacting domains of adaptive capacities: social capital, community competence, economic development, and, information and communication. It also offers a detailed overview of factors implicated in driving resilience. However, it emphasises individual, as opposed to collective, outcomes and processes, and does not discuss resilience to chronic socio-economic risks (e.g. structural inequality and discrimination).

Ziglio, E., Azzopardi-Muscat, N. & Briguglio, L. 2017. Resilience and 21st century public health. The European Journal of Public Health, 27 (5): 789 – 790.

This editorial sets the pursuit of resilience as a central role for public health in the 21st century. It identifies resilience as operating on three levels – individual, community, and system – and as encompassing four capacities – coping, adaptation, anticipation, and transformation. It identifies two bundles of factors contributing to resilience: social relationships and networks, and a sense of ‘being in control’. It suggests that contemporary challenges to health and wellbeing call for the development of transformative resilience capacity “to become a fundamental characteristic of public health policy-making”.

Place based action to reduce health inequalities

Ferlander, S. 2007. The Importance of Different Forms of Social Capital for Health. Acta Sociologica, 50 (2): 115 – 128.

This paper reviews the academic literature on the relationship between social capital and health. It suggests that the distinction between bonding, bridging, and linking social capital is crucial for understanding the mechanisms and pathways through which health is affected at the individual and population levels. Different forms of social capital may be implicated in different health outcomes and the balance between these forms may itself be a determining factor. This point is reinforced by the observation that social capital and its different forms are unevenly distributed alongside dimensions of difference such as social class, gender, ethnicity and locality. This discussion has implications for the design of interventions aimed at influencing dimensions of social capital.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). 2016. Community engagement: improving health and wellbeing and reducing health inequalities.

This is an extensive resource bringing together a wide range of evidence and expert contributions to offer guidance on designing, planning and implementing community engagement in interventions aimed at reducing health inequalities and improving health and wellbeing. This guidance centres on: focussing on place, developing collaborations and partnerships, involving people in peer and lay roles, and making it as easy as possible for people to get involved.

Newby, L. & Denison, N. (eds.) 2014. “If you could do one thing…” Nine local actions to reduce health inequalities. The British Academy.

In this report nine contributors elaborate each a recommendation for local action to reduce social and health inequalities. These cover action to: reduce poverty; improve life chances in the early years; reduce traffic accidents and air pollution; prioritise health in back to work policies; increase participatory decision making; improve working conditions; create age friendly environments, and increase use of evidence on cost-effectiveness in investment decisions.

NHS England. Place-based approaches to reducing health inequalities.

This report provides data on the causes of and trends in health inequalities in England, presents the economic case for action to reduce these health inequalities and argues that placed based actions have an important role to play. A framework to inform this action, the Population Intervention Triangle is described. It comprises: (i) different types of interventions; (ii) key qualities required for effective place based planning; and (iii) potential for added impact at the interface between interventions.

Public Health England. 2019. Whole System Community-Centred Public Health List of Resources.

This document offers a collection of resources – including conceptual and actionable frameworks, methodologies and tools, evidence summaries and lessons learnt from practice – that aim to support whole system, place-based working with communities to improve population health.

Seaman, P., McNeice, V., Yates, G. & McLean, J. 2014. Resilience for public health: supporting transformation in people and communities. Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

This report links resilience to public health, makes explicit the distinction between individual and collective resilience, and offers definitions of both. Culture is identified as an area for policy action with the potential to contribute to resilience. The other areas identified are: the economy and work, infrastructure, and governance. For each policy area, a set of possible actions is proposed. This report is rather long at 100-pages . Its findings are summarised in a 20-page briefing paper with the same title as the original report:

Glasgow Centre for Population Health. 2014. Briefing Paper 12: Resilience for public health: supporting transformation in people and communities.

The King’s Fund. 2021. Covid-19 recovery and resilience: what can health and care learn from other disasters?

This report presents policy lessons on the role of the health and social care system in the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. It is based on a review of the literature on disasters (e.g. hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, USA, in 2005; the Canterbury earthquakes in New Zealand in 2010-11; and, the Grenfell Tower fire in London, UK in 2017) and interviews with people involved in recovery work in these places. The report identifies four priorities for policy: mental health and wellbeing, communities, collaboration, and workforce wellbeing. The first two areas broadly fall within the ‘community resilience’ paradigm whereas the area of collaboration has strong affinities with the concept of ‘system resilience’.

Ubido, J., Lewis, C. & Timpson, H. 2018. Developing Resilient Communities: Identification of Approaches and Evidence for their Effectiveness. Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University and Cheshire and Merseyside Public Health Intelligence Network.

This report offers a useful overview of the different models and approaches implemented in the UK that aim to develop resilient communities. The report describes each model/approach, discusses available evidence on effectiveness, and provides local and national case studies. Finally, the report discusses measures of community resilience and the types of workforce skills required.

A shorter version can be found in the Graphic Summary Report.

World Health Organisation Compendium on Resilience

This compendium has international examples from 13 countries of building resilience at individual, community and system levels to create supportive environments for strengthening resilience, health and well-being.


CLAHRC North West Coast

This page provides details of all the publications produced by the public health theme of NIHR CLAHRC NWC. This includes links to published journal articles and research summaries (bites).

Communities in Control

This website provides links to the evidence about approaches that empower people to have more control over decisions in their neighbourhoods, and the consequences of this for reducing health inequalities.

Health Inequalities Toolkit (HIAT)

The health inequalities assessment toolkit was developed by CLAHRC NWC and helps assess whether your work considers the causes of health inequalities and has the maximum possible effect on reducing these.

Place-based Longitudinal Data Resource

The Place-Based Longitudinal Data Resource brings together datasets (e.g. hospital admissions, prescribing data) that track changes in the determinants of health and health outcomes, in places over time.

Public Health Scotland

This website brings in one place a wealth of topics directly related to describing and understanding health inequalities, and ways and tools to reduce them. The material is organised in a structured and intuitive way which makes it easy to locate information relevant to one’s interests. Its contents are not specific to Scotland.

The Equality Trust

The Equality Trust is a campaigning organisation working for the reduction of social and health inequalities in the UK. Its website contains many resources focussed on promoting public literacy of the causes and effects of social and health inequalities and of a range of proposed interventions for reducing inequalities. The resources are addressed to people who may not have had previous exposure or training to public health or social epidemiology.

The Glasgow Centre of Public Health

The GCPH is a partnership between NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, Glasgow City Council, and the University of Glasgow, funded by the Scottish Government. Like the Public Health Scotland website, a lot of its extensive content is not specific to Scotland.

The Health Foundation

This website provides extensive resources including data on health the scale of and trends in inequalities; an evidence hub on drivers of health inequalities and reports and papers on action to reduce health inequalities.

The UCL Institute of Health Equity (IHE)

The IHE was founded and is currently led by Professor Sir Michael Marmot who, among other high-profile work, led and published in 2010 the Strategic Review of Health Inequalities in England at the request of the British Government (the Marmot Review). The IHE’s website includes a library of the IHE’s publications focussing on describing and evidencing social and health inequalities in the UK and the world, and on developing the evidence base for the interventions identified in the Marmot Review on Health Inequalities in England (2010).