Institute of Health & Society

Staff Profile

Professor Simon Forrest




I joined the Institute for Health Society in August 2017 having been in the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health at Durham University occupying the role of Head of School (2014-2017) and having (since 2016) a substantive academic post as Professor of Social Sciences in Medicine and Health.

 My academic interests are in sexual health and especially the promotion of the sexual wellbeing of young people through education. I was involved in the UK’s first and largest RCT of peer-led approaches to sex education (the RIPPLE Trial) when I worked at UCL (RIPPLE), and have subsequently worked on projects engaging medical students in peer-led interventions and supported the initial group of students who founded what is now a UK-wide network covering all 32 medical schools: Sexpression. From an interest in HIV/Aids and sexual health I have developed a special interest in gender and sexualities with a focus on masculinities and health and published on both MSM and gay men’s health and masculinities in the UK and overseas.  I have worked with and now Chair the Board of Trustees of AVERT, one of the most world’s largest providers of HIV/Aids information, led the UK’s national umbrella organisations for policy and practice development in sex and relationships education, the Sex Education Forum and been involved in the development of educational, practice and policy resources including the UK’s first book supporting talking about homosexuality in the secondary school sector, governmental guidance on peer-led approaches to health promotion with young people and background research supporting the National Chlamydia Screening Campaign programme to target boys and young men.

 My interest in health and education is paralleled by my involvement in medical education and medical education research. I lead a Medicine in the Community strand in UG medical education provided by Newcastle University at Durham which provides a uniquely deep and experientially informed introduction to the social basis and context of medicine and health for doctors of the future. This interest in developing curriculum which support student socio-cultural understanding of public health, social and health inequalities and health systems through ‘real world’ experience has resulted in the award of several grants from the Higher Education Academy and Sir Ron Cooke International Scholar status in 2013.You can read about some of my work with colleagues in Australia on this issue here learningtodoctor.

I chair the UK’s national network of Behavioural and Social Scientists Teaching in medicine (BeSST). We recently published the UK’s first core curriculum for sociology in medical education, a companion to the network’s core curriculum for psychology published in 2012.

Areas of Expertise 

My areas of expertise relate to:

Gender, sex, sexualities health with a focus on young people

Teaching and learning of the social sciences in medical education

You can also find me at:


BA (Hons) Expressive Arts, 1987, Brighton Polytechnic

MA(Ed), 1999 Canterbury Christ Church University College 

PhD Sociology, 2008, The Open University


Previous Positions

Head of the School of Medicine, Pharmacy and Health, Durham University, 2014-17

Senior Teaching Fellow, Durham University, 2011-2014

Director of Sex Education Forum, 2002-03

Research Fellow, Department of Sexually Transmitted Diseases, UCL 1997-2002

Research Fellow Centre for health Education & Research, Canterbury Christ Church University College 1993-1997

Health Promotion Adviser 1991-1993



Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

Associate of the Higher Education Academy

Association for the Study of Medical Education

Association for Medical Education in Europe

British Sociological Association


Measures of Esteem

Sir Ron Cooke International Scholar, Higher Education Academy, 2013

Chair of BeSST (Behavioural and Social Scientists Teaching in medicine), 2010 -

Member of College of Experts, NIHR Health Technology Assessment programme, 2010 -

Chair of Board of Trustees and Secretary of AVERT (AIDS Education & research Trust), 2009 - 

Honorary Senior Lecturer in Adolescent Sexual Health, St George’s Hospital Medical School & Kingston University, 2003-05

Visiting Fellow, Social Science Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, 2001-2006


Research Interests

My interests are both applied and theoretical. I am committed to research which adds to the evidence base and also our understanding of the sexual behaviour, attitudes and experience of young people and how their rights to health and happiness might be promoted and protected through education and other interventions. I am particularly interested in how we can use applied work in fields such as sexual health education and promotion to inform thinking about how we conceptualise gender and sexuality, produce categories such as 'young people' and imagine or understand the 'problems' of sexuality and sexual health and behaviour. I see my work as aligning with the UN's SDGs, especially with regard to the outcomes framed within SDGs 3,4 and 5 around HIV/Aids, sexual and reproductive health, young people's rights to information and education that promotes and protects diversity gender equality and ensures freedom from sexual discrimination, oppression and violence

My interests in promoting the sociological imagination and approach of thinking about these issues as a way of making our work to protect and promote better and more relevant and effective, informs my contribution to pedagogical research especially in medical education. I  am interested here to find ways of ensuring that doctors of the future, as powerful agents and actors in health and society, have a real understanding of the social basis and context of people'e lives and health experiences. I am particularly interested in how we can promote experiential learning contexts as ways of helping medical students (and others) develop their knowledge and understanding of these issues and true social sense of health. 

I have an emerging interest in the particular issue of consent, especially in the context of sexual relationships and health promotion/education interventions. I am aiming to consider consent from multiple perspectives constellating around the idea of it as an embodied cultural practice, framed within ethical-moral-legal discourse and a framework of human rights. 

Postgraduate Research Student Supervision

Deeni Rudita Idris - investigating men's health, masculinities and health service utilisation amongst men in Brunei

Emma Dobson - investigating peer-led approaches to Sex and Relationships in Education in  school settings 

Naresh Serou - investigating the effect of surgical incidents on operating theatre staff 

Lara Ahmaro - investigating chalrmyidaa screening for young people in community pharmacy settings 

Simon Leggatt - investigating male students experiences of homophobia 



In 2017-18 I will be leading the Medicine in the Community (MiC) Strand within the Phase 1 MBBS programme of medical education offered by Newcastle University at Durham.


MiC uses a mixed portfolio of lectures, tutorials and experiential learning through a community placement to support students to examine and explore in some depth notions of personal identity – for example, culture and disability – societal attitudes to death, dying and bereavement, and complementary and alternative medicine. Other key threads of the strand build on basic insights into epidemiology and public health  to explore the doctor’s role within preventive health and provide a introduction to research methods to deepen students' grasp of qualitative approaches with especial reference to their Community Placement .  



I am open to hearing from PGT students with an interest in projects that touch on either sexual health promotion, gender, sexuality or medical education 


  • Dobson E, Beckmann N, Forrest S. Educator–student communication in sex & relationship education: a comparison of teacher and peer-led interventions. Pastoral Care in Education 2017, 35(4), 267-283.
  • Forrest S. Teaching Social Science Research Methods to Undergraduate Medical Students. Teaching Public Administration 2017, 35(3), 280-300.
  • Akinbolade O, Husband A, Forrest S, Todd A. Deprescribing in advanced illness. Progress in Palliative Care 2016, 24(5), 268-271.
  • Thandi CS, Forrest S, Williamson C. The role of early inter-professional and inter-agency encounters in increasing students' awareness of the clinical and community context of medicine. Perspectives on Medical Education 2016, 5(4), 240-243.
  • Idris D, Forrest S, Brown S. Health help seeking behaviour and health care services utilisation of Bruneian men: a Grounded theory study. Sociology of Health & Illness 2018. Submitted.
  • Forrest S. Time for straight talking: challenges and opportunities in teaching and learning about sexuality and homophobia in schools. In: Mike Cole, ed. Education, Equality and Human Rights: Issues of Gender, 'Race', Sexuality, Disability and Social Class. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018, pp.157-191.
  • Kendall K, Kelly M, MacBride-Stewart S, Collett T, Sbaiti M, Forrest S. Teaching Sociology to Medical Student: A BEME Guide. Medical Teacher 2018. Submitted.
  • Forrest S. Sexualities, identities and equal rights: the making and remaking of sexualities. In: Mike Cole, ed. Education, Equality and Human Rights: Issues of Gender, 'Race', Sexuality, Disability and Social Class. Abingdon: Routledge, 2018, pp.130-156.
  • Forrest S. A public health approach to sex education. In: Mitchell, K; Wellings, K; Columbien, M, ed. Sexual Health: A Public Health Approach (Understanding Public Health). London, UK: Open University Press McGraw Hill, 2012.
  • Idris D, Forrest S, Brown S. Integrative Review of Literature on Masculinity, Health Service Utilization and Health Outcomes. Brunei Darussalam Journal of Health 2017, 7(1), 26-42.
  • Serou N, Sahota L, Husband AK, Forrest S, Moorthy K, Vincent C, Slight RD, Slight S. Systematic review of psychological, emotional and behavioural impacts of surgical incidents on operating theatre staff: Impact of surgical incidents on operating theatre staff. British Journal of Surgery Open 2017, 1(4), 106-113.
  • Forrest S, Nash T. Difference and diversity as determinants of health. In: DeBell, D, ed. Public Health for Children. Boca Raton: Taylor and Francis, 2016, pp.33-52.
  • Kehoe A, McLachlan J, Metcalf J, Forrest S, Carter M, Illing J. Supporting international medical graduates’ transition to their host-country: realist synthesis. Medical Education 2016, 50(10), 1015-1032.
  • Forrest S. Peer Education. In: Cragg, L; Nutland, W, ed. Health Promotion in Practice. London, UK: Open University Press McGraw Hill, 2015.
  • Howse L, Shand T, Braeken D, Forrest S. Men are changing: Case study evidence on work with men and boys to promote gender equality and positive masculinities. London: International Planned Parenthood Federation, 2010.
  • Forrest S, Kanabus A. Sex Education that Works. In: Firth, L, ed. Sexual health (Issues Vol, 173). Cambridge: Independence Educational Publishers, 2009.
  • Cronberg A, Haour-Knipe M, Dafesh Z, Forrest S, Broring G. Community needs – community responses: trend reports on migration and HIV/AIDS in Europe. Woerden, Netherlands: Netherlands Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NIGZ), 2007.
  • Forrest S. Work-life Balance in the UK: the experiences of fathers in a New Town in the UK. In: Gaborit, P, ed. Men and work-life balance in Europe. Brussels: European New Town Project Publications, 2007.
  • Forrest S. 'They treated us like one of them really': peer education as an approach to sexual health promotion with young people. In: Burtney, E; Duffy, M, ed. Young People and Sexual Health: individual, social and policy contexts. London: Palgrave, 2004.
  • Abramowitch G, deBrukere S, Forrest S. Cultural Diversity. In: Vermeer, V; Walter, J, ed. Similar to others, yet different in many ways: HIV/Aids Prevention a Cultural Diversity Approach. Woerden: Netherlands Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NIGZ), 2003.
  • Forrest S, Blake S, Ray C. Sex and Relationships Education: A guide for independent schools and those working with them. London: National Children’s Bureau, 2003.
  • Forrest S. The implications for research. In: Blake, S, ed. Young Gay Men Talking: Keys issues and ideas for action. London: Working With Men, 2003, pp.62-67.
  • Strange S, Forrest S, Oakley A. A listening trial 'qualitative methods within experimental research. In: Oliver, S; Peersman, G, ed. Using Research for Effective Health Promotion. MIlton Keynes: Open University Press, 2001, pp.138-153.
  • Lloyd T, Forrest S, Davidson N. Boys and young men’s health: Literature and practice review. London: Health Development Agency, 2001.
  • Clift S, Forrest S. Gay tourism, sex and sexual health promotion. In: Horne, J; Fleming, S, ed. Masculinities: leisures cultures, identities and consumption. Eastbourne: Leisure Studies Association, 2001.
  • Forrest S, Reid D. HIV/AIDS Prevention for Young People: Models of Good Practice from the European Member States. Utrecht, Netherlands: Netherlands Institute for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (NIGZ), 2001. In Preparation.
  • Forrest S. 'It's for girls really': Boy's participation in school-based sex education. In: Ryan, H; Bull, J, ed. Changing Families, Changing Communities: researching health and wellbeing among children and young people. London: Health Development Agency, 2000.
  • Clift S, Forrest S. Tourism and the sexual ecology of gay men. In: Clift, S; Carter,S, ed. Tourism and sex: Culture, Commerce and Coercion. Leicester: Pinter, 2000, pp.179-199.
  • Forrest S, Vermeer V. HIV Prevention for young people. European Information Centre 'AIDS and Youth'. Utrecht, Netherlands: Netherlands Institute for Health Promotion & Disease Prevention (NIGZ), 1999.
  • Forrest S, Clift S. Gay tourist space and sexual risk behaviour. In: Aitchison, C; Jordan, F, ed. Gender, Space and Identity: Leisure, culture and commerce. Eastbourne: Leisure Studies Association, 1998, pp.163-176.
  • Forrest S, Biddle G, Clift S. A Guide to Talking About Homosexuality in the Secondary School. Horsham: AVERT (AIDS Education & research Trust), 1997.
  • Prendergast S, Forrest S. Hieroglyphs of the Heterosexual: Learning about Gender in School. In: Segal, L, ed. New Sexual Agendas. 1997.
  • Biddle G, Forrest S. Sex Education for Boys in Schools. In: Lenderyou, G; Ray, C, ed. 'Let's Hear it for the Boys': Supporting sex and relationships education for boys and young men. London: Sex Education Forum, 1997.
  • Prendergast S, Forrest S. 'Shorties, low-lifers, hard-nuts and kings': boys, emotions and embodiment in schools. In: Williams, S; |Bendelow, G, ed. Emotions in Social Life: Critical Themes and Contemporary Issues. London: Routledge, 1997, pp.155-172.
  • Clift SM, Forrest SP. Factors associated with gay men's sexual behaviours and risk on holiday. AIDS Care 1999, 11(3), 281-295.
  • Forrest S. Young men in love: the (re)making of heterosexual masculinities through ‘serious’ relationships. Sexual Relationships Therapy 2010, 25(2), 206-219.
  • Strange V, Forrest S, Oakley A, Stephenson J. Sex and relationship education for 13–16 year olds: evidence from England. Sex Education 2006, 6(1), 31-46.
  • Twine C, Robbé IJ, Forrest S, Davies S. A needs assessment in South Wales schools for a novel medical student-led sex education programme. Sex Education 2005, 5(2), 137-153.
  • Oakley A, Strange V, Stephenson J, Forrest S, Monteiro H. Evaluating Processes: A case study of a randomized controlled trial of sex education. Evaluation 2004, 10(4), 440-462.
  • Stephenson JM, Strange V, Forrest S, Oakley A, Copas A, Allen E, Babiker A, Black S, Ali M, Monteiro H, Johnson AM. Pupil-led sex education in England (RIPPLE study): cluster-randomised intervention trial. The Lancet 2004, 364(9421), 338-346.
  • Forrest S, Strange V, Oakley A. What young people want from sex education? The results of a needs assessment from a peer-led sex education programme. Culture, Health and Sexuality 2004, 6(4), 337-354.
  • Stephenson JM, Oakley A, Johnson AM, Forrest S, Strange V, Charleston S, Black S, Copas A, Petruckevitch A, Babiker A. A school-based randomized controlled trial of peer-led sex education in England. Controlled Clinical Trials 2003, 24(5), 643-657.
  • Bonell CP, Strange VJ, Stephenson JM, Oakley AR, Copas AJ, Forrest SP, Johnson AM, Black S. Effect of social exclusion on the risk of teenage pregnancy: development of hypotheses using baseline data from a randomised trial of sex education. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2003, 57, 871-876.
  • Strange V, Oakley A, Forrest S. Mixed-sex or Single-sex Sex Education: how would young people like their sex education and why?. Gender & Education 2003, 15(2), 201-214.
  • Forrest S, Strange V, Oakley A. A comparison of student evaluations of a peer-delivered sex education programme and teacher-led programme. Sex Education 2002, 2(3), 195-214.
  • Forrest S. Educating for change: Education for children and young people about sex and relationships through schools. British Journal of Sexual Medicine 2002, 26(4), 12-14.
  • Strange V, Forrest S, Oakley A. Peer-led Sex Education - characteristics of peer educators and their perceptions of the impact on them of participation in a peer education programme. Health Education Research 2002, 17(3), 327-337.
  • Strange V, Forrest S, Oakley A. Using research questionnaires with young people in schools: the influence of social context. International Journal of Social Research Methodology 2002, 6(4), 337-346.
  • Strange V, Forrest S, Oakley A. What influences peer-led sex education in the classroom? A view from the peer educators. Health Education Research 2002, 17(3), 339-349.
  • Forrest S. ‘Big and Tough’: Boys learning about sexuality and manhood. Sexual Relationships Therapy 2000, 15(3), 247-261.
  • Clift S, Forrest S. Gay Men and Tourism: Destinations and holiday motivations. Tourism Management 1999, 20, 1-11.
  • Forrest S. Confessions of a Middle-Shelf Shopper. Journal of the Institute of Contemporary Health 1997, 5, 10-13.
  • Forrest S. Girls, boys, drugs and trouble: does gender matter?. Images: YMCA Journal of Reflective Practice 1996, 2(1), 20-23.
  • Kehoe A, Metcalf J, Carter M, McLachlan JC, Forrest S, Illing J. Supporting international graduates to success. The Clinical Teacher 2018, 15(5), 361-365.
  • Kehoe A, Metcalf J, Carter M, Mclachlan J, Forrest S, Illing J. Supporting International Graduates to Success. Clinical Teacher 2018, 15, 1-5. In Preparation.