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Professor of Disability and Physical Activity, Durham University

Brett Smith is the Department Director of Research. He held a Chair first at Loughborough University and then at the University of Birmingham before joining Durham in 2019.

Brett’s extensively funded research focuses on disability, physical activity, sport, and health. It combines thinking from psychology, sociology, public health, and critical disability studies. It also is often co-produced. One example of current research he leads is: ‘Making Every Contact Count: Training the Social Workers of Today and Tomorrow in Supporting Disabled People to be Physically Active’. This 3 year project is funded by Sport England and the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR).

Brett is also internationally recognised as a methodologist in qualitative research. He has a particular interest in narrative inquiry, rigor, and arts-based research. Brett is the co-founder and President of the International Society of Qualitative Research in Sport and Exercise. He is also the founder and former Editor of Qualitative Research in Sport, Exercise and Health. Currently he serves as an Associate Editor of Psychology of Sport and Exercise and was previously the Associate Editor of Sport, Exercise and Performance Psychology for qualitative research.Over his career he served on the Editorial Board of 15 journals, including Qualitative Research in Psychology, Disability & Society, and Sociology of Sport Journal.

Brett has over 200 publications. These include articles in Health Psychology, Sociology of Health and Illness, Social Science and Medicine, and the Lancet. He is regularly invited to give keynotes at international conferences and workshops on qualitative research. Brett is an appointed core member of the new UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) Physical Activity Expert Committee for Communications, where he provides expertise on disability, messaging, and co-production. Prior to this, he was the Chair of the Disability and Physical Activity Expert Working Group for the 2019 CMO Physical Activity Guidelines, and an author of the report.


  • –present
    Professor, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Durham University