Sylvia spent a large part of her 35 year health promotion career at what is now Leeds Beckett University where she led the postgraduate and other health promotion courses, undertook a variety of national and international activities and consultancies and set up the Centre for Health Promotion Research.

Her research interests include the development of evidence based practice, mental health, qualitative research and health promotion theory and values. She is co-author, with Keith Tones of Health Promotion: Effectiveness and Efficiency and, with Mima Cattan, of Mental Health Promotion: A Lifespan Approach and contributed to journals.

In recent years she has worked in community mental health and workplace health projects, and with the University of the Western Cape on MPH courses, conferences and the development of distance learning materials.