Dr Anna Pettican

School of Health and Social Care
Dr Anna Pettican



Anna is an Occupational Therapist with practice and research interests in developing, implementing, and evaluating complex health interventions that address physical inactivity and other areas of health inequality. She has particular expertise in using co-production and participatory methods to work with marginalised groups on an equal basis, in an effort to democratise the production of knowledge, develop sustainable community health improvements, and contribute to social and occupational justice. Anna has an established track record for generating research income from charitable and other grant funders (e.g. Research England's Participatory Research Fund, the Elizabeth Casson Trust, and Sport England) for research projects on disabled people's experiences of accessibility in leisure centres, participatory research methods (go-along interviews), and evaluating various community-based physical activity interventions (e.g. football as an intervention for people with mental health problems). She has published academic output at international levels of recognition in the fields of disability studies, public health and qualitative health research. Anna currently co-lead's, with her physiotherapy colleague Dr Adrian Mallows, the Essex hub for the Council for Allied Health Professions Research. This has mostly recently resulted in an 'ideas exchange' initiative, which is connecting the real-world issues and problems that practitioners are encountering with students who are completing their dissertation projects. Since 2020 Anna has been a member of the Allied Health Professionals (AHP) Public Health Expert Advisory Group convened by the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (previously Public Health England), which has a particular remit for enacting the current UK AHP Public Health strategic framework across practice, research, and education. Anna is also a member of the Occupational Science Europe Research Committee, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, the World Federation of Occupational Therapists, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is a reviewer for the British Journal of Occupational Therapy, the Australian Occupational Therapy Journal and Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. Anna works part-time, Tuesday-Thursday.


  • PhD Occupational Therapy University of Essex,

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

  • MSc Occupational Therapy Brunel University London,

  • BSc (Hons) Occupational Therapy Coventry University,


University of Essex

  • Post-doctoral Researcher (Senior Research Officer), School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences, University of Essex (1/8/2019 - 31/12/2021)

  • Lecturer in Occupational Therapy (Career break July 2017-Nov 2018), School of Health and Social Care, University of Essex (2/11/2009 - 31/7/2019)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Occupational therapy and physical inactivity. Using sport and physical activity for therapeutic means and ends.

I am an Occupational Therapist with practice and research interests in using physical activity for therapeutic means and ends. I also have an interest in occupational and social justice, health inequities and using co-production and participatory methods to work with marginalised groups to address inequalities in participation and knowledge production. I would welcome PhD applications in relation to these topics.

Key words: Physical inactivity
Open to supervise

Conferences and presentations

Play Your Part: Occupational therapists disrupting the sport and physical activity sector

World Federation of Occupational Therapists (Paris), 31/8/2022

MovingOccupationalTherapists: Practice placement innovation and utilising physical activity for therapeutic means and ends.

Royal College of Occupational Therapists 46th Annual Conference, 15/6/2022

Learning from the Voices for Inclusive Activity (VIA) Project: Using digital methods to facilitate inclusive and accessible research.

Royal College of Occupational Therapists 46th Annual Conference,, 14/6/2022

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Using Evidence in Health Care Practice (HS858)

  • The thinking therapist (HS896)

  • Collaboration and Leadership in Service Enhancement (HS276)

Previous supervision

Ellen Serwaa Adomako
Ellen Serwaa Adomako
Thesis title: Exploring the Staff and Service User Perspectives on the Impact of the Physical and Social Environment on Service Users’ Engagement in Therapeutic Activities in an Adult Acute Mental Health Inpatient Unit
Degree subject: Occupational Therapy
Degree type: Doctor of Philosophy
Awarded date: 10/2/2022


Journal articles (10)

Pettican, A., Southall-Edwards, R., Reinhardt, GY., Gladwell, V., Freeman, P., Low, W., Copeland, R. and Mansfield, L., (2024). Tackling physical inactivity and inequalities: implementing a whole systems approach to transform community provision for disabled people and people with long-term health conditions.. BMC Public Health. 24 (1), 636-

Pettican, A., Speed, E., Bryant, W., Kilbride, C. and Beresford, P., (2022). Levelling the playing field: Exploring inequalities and exclusions with a community‐based football league for people with experience of mental distress. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal. 69 (3), 290-300

Pettican, A., Goodman, B., Bryant, W., Beresford, P., Freeman, P., Gladwell, V., Kilbride, C. and Speed, E., (2022). Doing together: reflections on facilitating the co-production of participatory action research with marginalised populations. Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. 15 (2), 202-219

Pettican, A., Speed, E., Kilbride, C., Bryant, W. and Beresford, P., (2021). An occupational justice perspective on playing football and living with mental distress. Journal of Occupational Science. 28 (1), 159-172

Pettican, AR., (2013). Politics of occupation-centred practice: reflections on occupational engagement across cultures. BRITISH JOURNAL OF OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY. 76 (2), 115-116

Pettican, A. and Prior, S., (2011). ‘It's a New Way of Life’: An Exploration of the Occupational Transition of Retirement. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 74 (1), 12-19

Pettican, A., (2009). Mental health outcomes compendium. Mental Health Occupational Therapy. 14 (2), 70-71

Pettican, A. and Bostock, JL., (2009). UK research governance developments: Opportunities for therapy research?. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation. 16 (5), 289-297

Pettican, A. and Bryant, W., (2007). Sustaining a Focus on Occupation in Community Mental Health Practice. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 70 (4), 140-146

Pettican, A., (2002). Fieldwork placements and the academic award. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 65 (1), 37-

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

Grants and funding


Going along together: Piloting an innovative participatory research methodology with disabled people and people living with enduring health conditions

UOE Participatory Research Fund

Customised metaverse as virtual space for young autistic adults

University of Essex (QR Impact Fund)

Sport for Confidence PhD Studentship

Sport for Confidence


Together We Grow: The impact of gardening on physical, psychological and social outcomes

University of Essex (ESRC IAA)


Evaluation_Local Delivery Pilot for Sport England

Sport England

+44 (0) 1206 876245


2S2.3.13, Colchester Campus

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