2020 applicants

Dr Anna Pettican

Senior Research Officer
School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences
Dr Anna Pettican



I am an occupational therapist with practice and research interests in working with marginalised groups (the seldom heard - such as people with experience of mental distress), to address occupational injustices and health inequities. I have a particular interest in the theory and practice of inclusive sport, against a backdrop of neoliberal health and sport policy, which largely ignores the significance of structural factors and social processes in relation to participation. My practice experience lies primarily in working with people with experience of mental distress, and in using sport and physical activity for therapeutic means and ends. My PhD was a participatory action research study with a community-based football club for people with experience of mental distress, based in Hackney, East London. I have a particular interest in using participatory research approaches to address health inequities and work towards social transformation. Since 2017 I have combined my academic work with working as an occupational therapist at Sport for Confidence, a social enterprise that addresses health inequities by placing health professionals and specialist sports coaches into leisure centres, to make them more accessible and inclusive. My current academic appointment is as the post-doctoral researcher on the Essex Local Delivery Pilot (LDP) Evaluation Study. The Essex LDP is a national initiative (there are 12 pilot sites in England, of which Essex is one) funded by Sport England, which seeks to address health inequities and physical inactivity by improving the social conditions of people's lives, thereby enabling Essex citizens to live healthier lifestyles. I am also currently a member of an expert advisory group at Public Health England, which works to support allied health professionals (such as occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech and language therapists, and dietitians), who work, or wish to work, within the field of public health. This includes the strategic development of pre-registration allied health programmes and the evidence-base that informs public health interventions. You can find out more about Sport for Confidence and the Essex Local Delivery Pilot via the web links below. https://www.sportforconfidence.com/ https://www.activeessex.org/essex-local-delivery-pilot/


  • PhD Occupational Therapy University of Essex, (2019)

  • Post-Graduate Certificate in Higher Education Practice University of Essex, (2011)

  • MSc Occupational Therapy (Distinction) Brunel University, (2008)

  • BSc(Hons) Occupational Therapy (2:1) Coventry University, (2003)


University of Essex

  • Lecturer in Occupational Therapy (temporary cover post), School of Health and Social Care, University of Essex (1/11/2018 - 31/7/2019)

  • Lecturer in Occupational Therapy, School of Health and Social Sciences, University of Essex (1/11/2009 - 1/7/2017)


Book chapters (1)

Bryant, W., Pettican, AR. and Coetzee, S., (2016). Designing Participatory Action Research To Relocate Margins, Borders and Centres. In: Occupational Therapies Without Borders Integrating Justice with Practice. Editors: Sakellariou, D. and Pollard, N., . Elsevier. 73- 73. 070205920X. 9780702059209


+44 (0) 1206 872598


ESA.3.25, Colchester Campus

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