Dr Emma Coombes

Dr Emma CoombesSenior Research Associate

Email: emma.coombes@uea.ac.uk
Telephone: 01603 591376

Norwich Medical School
University of East Anglia


  • PhD Environmental Science, University of East Anglia
  • MSc by Research Environmental Science, University of East Anglia
  • BSc (Hons) Geography, University of Aberdeen

Background and experience
Emma initially studied for a BSc in Geography at the University of Aberdeen before moving to the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia where she undertook a MSc by Research and then a PhD examining the effects of climate change on coastal tourism and biodiversity. After completing her thesis, she transitioned into the field of population health, initially working on the Medical Research Council (MRC) funded SPEEDY GPS study. Undertaken amongst a sample of schoolchildren in Norfolk UK, SPEEDY GPS was one of the first studies to employ a novel technology, Global Positioning Systems (GPS), to understand the role of the environment in determining physical activity levels. It is through this work that Emma developed her interest in understanding the environmental influences on health and related behaviours.

Current work and interests
Emma is currently a Senior Research Associate in the Norwich Medical School at the University of East Anglia. Her work focuses on environmental and social influences on physical activity behaviours, and she is particularly interested in the applications of GPS technology.

Emma has undertaken GPS-based physical activity research in both children (SPEEDY GPS study) and adults (the Wellcome Trust funded FAST study). She is currently employed on the PEAR project, which is focusing on adolescents. PEAR, a collaboration with researchers at the University of Bristol, is funded by the MRC and is examining how features of the physical environment relate to the time that UK 13-15 year olds spend engaged in physical activity. Adolescents’ physical activity patterns are being measured using GPS and accelerometery, and these data are being integrated with a Geographical Information System (GIS) database to identify the environmental characteristics that may be supportive of activity levels.

In terms of her wider interest in environmental influences on population health, Emma has recently worked on projects investigating the associations between access to urban green space and physical activity and weight status, plus the role of access in determining attendance at rehabilitation sessions for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients. She has also recently completed a collaboration with researchers at the French Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) on the influence of health service provision on differences in the management and survival of cancer patients between the UK and France.

Professional memberships

  • International Society for Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
  • Association for the Study of Obesity
  • Global Positioning Systems in Health Research Network


Emma’s CEDAR publications here.

All publications:

  1. Carter P., Bodicoat D.H., Jones A., Khunti K., Davies M.J., Edwardson C.L., Henson J., Yates T. and Coombes E.G. (2017). The impact of neighbourhood walkability on the effectiveness of a structured education programme to increase objectively measured walking. Journal of Public Health. In press.
  2. Crawford S.M., Skinner J., Coombes E.G. and Jones A. (2017). Cancer of Unknown Primary: a Cancer Registry study of factors affecting access to diagnosis. Clinical Oncology, 29: e39-e46.
  3. Fleetcroft R., Noble M., Martin A., Coombes E.G., Ford J. and Steel N. (2016). Emergency hospital admissions for asthma and access to primary care: cross-sectional analysis. British Journal of General Practice, 66: e640-e646.
  4. Bateman I., Agarwala M., Binner A., Coombes E.G., Day B., Ferrini S., Fezzi C., Hutchins M., Lovett A. and Posen P. (2016). Spatially explicit integrated modeling and economic valuation of climate driven land use change and its indirect effects. Journal of Environmental Management, 181: 172-184.
  5. Philpott C., Erskine S., Hopkins C., Coombes E.G., Kara N., Sunkareneni S., Anari S., Salam M., Farboud A. and Clark A. (2016). A case-control study of medical, psychological and socio-economic factors influencing the severity of chronic rhinosinusitis. Rhinology, 54: 134-140.
  6. Coombes E.G. and Jones A. (2016). Gamification of active travel to school: a pilot evaluation of the Beat the Street physical activity intervention. Health and Place, 39: 62-69.
  7. Hillsdon M., Coombes E.G., Griew P. and Jones A. (2015). An assessment of the relevance of the home neighbourhood for understanding environmental influences on physical activity: How far from home do people roam? International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 12: Article 100.
  8. Bateman I.J., Coombes E.G., Fitzherbert E., Binner A., Badura T., Carbone C., Fisher B., Naidoo R. and Watkinson A.R. (2015). Conserving tropical biodiversity via market forces and spatial targeting. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112: 7408–7413.
  9. Ratnarajan G., Coombes E.G., Jones A., Parker M. and Bourne R. (2015). The equity profile of an enhanced optometry scheme. Ophthalmic and Physiological Optics, 35: 243–244.
  10. Dejardin O., Jones A.P., Rachet B., Morris E., Bouvier V., Jooste V., Coombes E.G., Forman D., Bouvier A.M. and Launoy G. (2014). The influence of geographical access to health care and material deprivation on colorectal cancer survival: Evidence from France and England. Health and Place, 30: 36-44.
  11. Coombes E.G., Jones A.P., Page A. and Cooper A.R. (2014). Is change in environmental supportiveness between primary and secondary school associated with a decline in children’s physical activity levels? Health and Place, 29: 171-178.
  12. Ratnarajan G., Somner J., Coombes E.G., Jones A. and Bourne R. (2014). Awareness of sight-testing entitlements in patients referred for suspected glaucoma. Eye, 28: 504-505.
  13. Griew P., Hillsdon M., Foster C., Coombes E.G., Jones A.P. and Wilkinson P. (2013). Developing and testing a street audit tool using Google Street View to measure environmental supportiveness for physical activity. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10: Article 103.
  14. Coombes E.G., van Sluijs E.M.F. and Jones A.P. (2013). Is environmental setting associated with the intensity and duration of children’s physical activity? Findings from the SPEEDY GPS study. Health and Place, 20: 62-65.
  15. Dejardin O., Rachet B., Morris E., Bouvier V., Jooste V., Haynes R., Coombes E.G., Forman D., Jones A.P., Bouvier A.M. and Launoy G. (2013). Management of colorectal cancer explains differences in 1-year relative survival between France and England for patients diagnosed 1997-2004. British Journal of Cancer, 108: 775-783.
  16. Hayton C., Clark A., Olive S., Browne P., Galey P., Knights E., Staunton L., Jones A.P., Coombes E.G. and Wilson A.M. (2013). Barriers to pulmonary rehabilitation: Characteristics that predict patient attendance and adherence. Respiratory Medicine, 107: 401-407.
  17. Bateman I.J., Abson D., Beaumont N., Darnell A., Fezzi C., Hanley N., Kontoleon A., Maddison D., Morling P., Morris J., Mourato S., Pascual U., Perino G., Sen A., Tinch D., Turner R.K., Valatin G., Andrews B., Asara V., Askew T., Aslam U., Atkinson G., Beharry-Borg N., Bolt K., Cole M., Collins M., Comerford E., Coombes E.G., Dugdale S., Dunn H., Foden J., Gibbons S., Haines-Young R., Hattam C., Hulme M., Ishwaran M., Lovett A., Luisetti T., MacKerron G., Mangi S., Moran D., Munday P., Paterson J., Resende G., Siriwardena G., Skea J., van Soest D. and Termansen M. (2011). Economic Values from Ecosystems. In: The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Technical Report. UK National Ecosystem Assessment, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge.
  18. Coombes E.G., Jones A.P. and Hillsdon M. (2010). The relationship of physical activity and overweight to objectively measured green space accessibility and use. Social Science and Medicine, 70: 816-822.
  19. Coombes E.G. and Jones A.P. (2010). Assessing the impact of climate change on visitor behaviour and habitat use at the coast: A UK case study. Global Environmental Change, 20: 303-313.
  20. Jones A.P., Hillsdon M. and Coombes E.G. (2009). Greenspace access, use, and physical activity: Understanding the effects of area deprivation. Preventive Medicine, 49: 500-505.
  21. Jones A.P., Coombes E.G., Griffin S.J. and van Sluijs E.M.F. (2009). Environmental supportiveness for physical activity in English schoolchildren: a study using Global Positioning Systems. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 6: Article 42.
  22. Coombes E.G., Jones A.P. and Sutherland W.J. (2009). The implications of climate change on coastal visitor numbers: A regional analysis. Journal of Coastal Research, 25: 981-990.
  23. Coombes E.G., Jones A.P., Bateman I.J., Tratalos J.A., Gill J.A., Showler D.A., Watkinson A.R. and Sutherland W.J. (2009). Spatial and temporal modelling of beach use: A case study of East Anglia, UK. Coastal Management, 37: 94-115.
  24. Coombes E.G., Jones A.P. and Sutherland W.J. (2008). The biodiversity implications of changes in coastal tourism due to climate change. Environmental Conservation, 35: 319-330.
  25. Turner R.K., Burgess D., Hadley D., Coombes E.G. and Jackson N. (2007). A cost-benefit appraisal of coastal managed realignment policy. Global Environmental Change, 17: 397-407.
  26. Andrews J.E., Burgess D., Cave R.R., Coombes E.G., Jickells T.D., Parkes D.J. and Turner R.K. (2006). Biogeochemical value of managed realignment, Humber Estuary, UK. Science of the Total Environment, 371: 19-30.
  27. Cave R.R., Andrews J.E., Jickells T. and Coombes E.G. (2005). A review of sediment contamination by trace metals in the Humber catchment and estuary, and the implications for future estuary water quality. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 62: 547-557.
  28. Coombes E.G., Jones A.P., Sutherland W.J. and Bateman I.J. (2004). Interactions between tourism, biodiversity and climate change in the coastal zone. In: Matzarakis A., de Freitas C.R. and Scott D. (eds.) Advances in Tourism Climatology. Ber. Meteor. Inst. Univ. Freiburg Nr. 12, p.141-148.


Organisational affiliation
Employed by the University of East Anglia, funded by the Medical Research Council.