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Public health research

Our team of experts make a significant contribution to public health policy and practice in Australia and around the world through multi-disciplinary and collaborative research.

To achieve this, we conduct quality research, disseminate the findings to a range of audiences, advocate for improved policies and practices and work closely with practitioners and communities.

Funding for our research includes grants awarded from the:

  • National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Australian Research Council
  • Canadian Institute of Health Research
  • Indigenous Heritage Program

 

Equity and the social determinants of health

Equity and the social determinants of health form our main scope of research and this is spread across several themes:

Food, nutrition and diet

Featured projects
Title Investigation of the intergenerational transmission of food choices and eating behaviour in families, how these vary in culturally linguistically diverse communities, and their impact on overweight and obesity prevalence An ethnographic study of obesity risk in a disadvantaged community
Aims

The health of future generations depends largely on the health of current generations. Bad eating habits associated with obesity and other chronic diseases are often passed from parents to children.

This study will provide insight into the ways in which these habits are perpetuated within families of various cultural backgrounds. It will establish how assessing family health history can be used as a tool to help identify and modify the risk of chronic, life-threatening disease in families and individuals.

If proven effective, this tool can be rolled out nationwide to help promote and maintain healthier diets in Australian families and reduce the economic burden on the government.

Results from this project will provide important context for what works (and doesn’t work) in obesity intervention.

We are investigating:

  • how families who are seen as ‘at risk’ of developing obesity respond to Australia's largest obesity intervention, and;
  • if messages about healthy eating and increased physical activity are acted upon.
Funding body
ARC Linkage ARC Linkage
Chief investigators

Professor Carlene Wilson

Professor Paul Ward

Professor John Coveney

Professor Garry Robins

Associate Professor Caroline Miller

Professor Jonathan Karnon

Dr Laura Koehly

Dr Amanda Hutchinson

Dr Kayla de la Haye

Ms Kate Nicholls

Ms Donna Hughes

Dr Ivanka Prichard

Professor Vivienne Moore

Dr Megan Warin

Professor Paul Ward

Organisations

Flinders University

Cancer Council SA

The University of Adelaide

The University of Melbourne

National Institutes of Health

The University of Adelaide

Flinders University

SA Health

City of Playford

 

Indigenous health

Featured projects
Title Aboriginal people, capitalism and Christian missions Developing an Alngith Stewardship model
Aims This project builds on several earlier studies and explores Aboriginal responses to the emergence of late capitalism, exchange, labour and Christianity in western Cape York peninsula in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This is a collaborative qualitative research project exploring Alngith notions of Country, the links between Country and health, and aspirations and concerns for Country, the aim of which is to develop an Alngith stewardship model and plan for their Homelands more than 80% of which has been impacted by mining.
Funding body
Flinders University Establishment and Large Research Project Grant Scheme Community Environment Grant – Commonwealth Government
Chief investigators

Dr Darlene McNaughton

Dr Mick Morrison

Anhatangaith People

Dr Darlene McNaughton

Dr Mick Morrison

Alngith People

Organisations Flinders University Flinders University

 

Responding to natural disasters

Featured projects
Title Bushfires, Social Connectedness and Mental Health Bushfire Recovery: Hearing children's voices
Aims

This project profiles the trajectories of individual and social responses to the 2009 Victorian bushfires using multiple methodologies and involving multiple community partners, including academic, disaster management, health and community organisations.

It will survey affected and unaffected communities to map the predictors and outcomes of mental health and social functioning in children, adolescents and adults.

This project will provide crucial information for understanding and shaping future policies for disaster management.

This multi-disciplinary collaboration explores ways in which the rights and views of children and adolescents can be promoted in bushfire recovery policies, funding and service delivery by bringing together national and international expertise.

The focus will be on opportunities for children and young people to engage in socially inclusive, community development initiatives rather than a clinically-oriented treatment model.

The February 2009 bushfires in Victoria claimed 173 lives leaving 16 children orphaned and many more injured and traumatised. More than 450,000ha of land, 350,000 buildings including 2,059 homes were destroyed across 40 towns.

Funding body
ARC Linkage Australian Research Alliance of Children and Youth Research Network Seeding Funds
Chief investigators

Professor Elizabeth Waters

Professor Richard Bryant

Professor Philippa Pattison

Professor Lisa Gibbs

Professor Mark Creamer

Professor Louise Harms

Dr Dean Lusher

Professor Colin MacDougall

Associate Professor Lisa Gibbs

Professor Colin MacDougall

Dr Naomi Priest

Professor Elizabeth Waters

Dr Danielle Clode

Dr Rachel Clark

Dr Elise Davis

Organisations

The University of Melbourne

Australian Red Cross

Centrelink

Victorian Department of Health

Australian Rotary Health

Central Hume Primary Care Partnership

Bendigo Loddon Primary Care Partnership

Banyule Community Health Service

Outer East Health and Community Support Alliance

Flinders University

Central West Gippsland Primary Care Partnership

Lower Hume Primary Care Partnership

The University of New South Wales

The University of Melbourne

Flinders University

Country Fire Authority Victoria

 

Public health policy and practice

Featured projects
Title Theorising and understanding how policy processes affect uptake of evidence on the social determinants of health and equity in Australian health policy Weight Loss Surgery: Through the Patients’ Eyes
Aims

This project determines how to apply recent recommendations from the World Health Organisation about the social determinants of health to Australia.

Analysis of health sector policies, including detailed case studies, will determine how governments can shape policy and implementation processes to improve Australia’s health.

Bariatric (weight loss) surgery is the most rapidly growing method of treatment for obesity in Australia. The number of bariatric procedures in South Australia rose from 323 in 2001 to 1375 in 2011.

Most notable, is the lack of studies providing empirical evidence on patient expectations, experiences and long-term impacts on quality of life.

This research will address these gaps by examining the expectations, experiences and quality of life of patients who undergo bariatric surgery in South Australia over time, before and three times post surgery

Funding body
ARC Linkage Flinders University Seeding Grant
Chief investigators

Professor Fran Baum

Professor Colin MacDougall

Dr Lareen Newman

Professor Dennis McDermott

Professor Jennie Popay

Professor Michael Marmot

Dr Darlene McNaughton

Dr Samantha Meyer

Professor Paul Ward

Dr Sue Booth

Dr Lillian Mwanri

Organisations

Flinders University

Lancaster University

University College London

Flinders University

 

Marginalised and disadvantaged populations

Featured projects
Title Investigating food insecurity among Afghan refugee families in South Australia Exploring youth suicide in African communities in South Australia
Aims

This project is an international collaboration with University of Saskatchewan in Canada who are examining food insecurity and underpinning socio-economic and cultural factors for Afghan refugees.

This study focuses on these refugees in countries of final destination - Canada and Switzerland - and in countries they have lived during the refugee journey - Iran and Pakistan. Australian data is being contributed to this research.

This project builds on existing food and equity research conducted by the chief investigators.

To identify the extent and predictors of suicide in African communities in South Australia.
Funding body
Flinders University Seeding Grant Flinders University Establishment Grant
Chief investigators

Professor Eileen Willis

Dr Kaye Mehta

Dr Foorough Kavian

Professor Paul Ward

Dr Sue Booth

Dr Lillian Mwanri

Dr Lillian Mwanri

Dr Mariastella Pulvirenti

Organisations

Flinders University

University of Saskatchewan

Flinders University

 

Health and the life course

Featured projects
Title Public and ethical responses to mandated alcohol warning labels about increased long-term risk of cancer (Alcohol Causes Cancer!) ACORN: Parenting Program evaluation for mums with mental health issues
Aims

This project will identify how Australians will respond to proposed alcohol warning labels and other point of sale messages.

It will provide evidence-based recommendations about how to inform people about alcohol and cancer in a way that is both acceptable and effective in reducing the national cancer burden.

A participatory action research evaluation of a parenting intervention for mothers of children aged 0-3 years with mental health issues and parenting problems.

We are currently working with more than 160 mothers. We aim to provide a series of evaluation reports to inform the refinement and improvement of the ACORN model for broader rollout across South Australia and nationally.

Funding body
ARC Linkage Anglicare
Chief investigators

Dr Emma Miller

Dr Jaklin Elliott

Professor Ian Olver

Associate Professor Robert Ali

Professor Annette Braunack-Mayer

Dr Shona Crabb

Dr Jennie Louise

Dr Genevieve Barantiny

Dr Paul Aylward

Organisations

Flinders University

Cancer Council Australia

Drug & Alcohol Services of South Australia

The University of Adelaide

Flinders University

 

 

Summary of all current projects: Current research projects (PDF 151KB)

Summary of completed projects: Completed research projects (PDF 60KB)