Emeritus Professor Eileen Willis

Emeritus Professor

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

place Sturt South (S282)
GPO Box 2100, Adelaide 5001, South Australia

Professor Eileen Willis has a research interest in the area of Indigenous public health policy particularly access to health care and domestic water supplies. She also has research expertise in the impact of health reform on working time. Research projects have included the impact of Excelcare on nurse's caring time, and enterprise bargaining. Her most recent reseach has examined the impact of staffing levels on missed nursing care in the acute, community and aged care sectors, and an evaluation of the Queensland Health Nurse Navigator program. She is currently working on projects examining the quality and risks associated with Aboriginal Hospital Liaison professionals and families living in insecure housing. Dr Willis has attracted funding from government and private organizations to do small scale in-depth qualitative studies on attitudes, values and aspirations to social policy of various population groups. She was the foundation editor of the international journal, Health Sociology Review, and currently serves on the editorial board of Nursing and Health Sciences.


Doctor of Philosophy, 2004. University of Adelaide, Faculty of Arts, Department of Social Inquiry. Title: Accelerating control: An ethnographic account of the impact of micro-economic reform on the work of health professionals. The thesis argues that state control over the work of health professionals in public hospitals, particularly nurses and early career doctors, has increased following the introduction of casemix DRGs, the 1992-1998 and 1998-2003 Medicare agreements and the move to enterprise bargaining. The theoretical work of the neo-Marxist, Moshe Postone (1996) was used to illustrate the increased intensification of work and structural control, while Richard Fenn's (1995) thesis The Persistence of Purgatory (1995) was employed to support the cultural origins of intensified working time.

Master of Education by Research, 1985. University of New England, School of Education. Title: Servant of two masters: a study of the Aboriginal Health Worker Literacy program in the Southern Region of the Northern Territory. An evaluative study of an innovative training program where Remote Area Nurses were asked to integrate the teaching of literacy with clinical skills to Aboriginal Health Workers. Using the sociological framework of marginality (Stonequist 1937; Clark 1952) and the theoretical/methodological approach of grounded theory (Glaser and Strauss 1976) I employed qualitative methods of participant observation, interviews, back translation, and document analysis. This data was triangulated with a quantitative pre and post literacy test based on the WHO 'Road to Health' chart. Results indicated that RANs clinical workload resembled an Accident and Emergency department leaving them no time for primary health care activities, which remained marginal to their work.

Bachelor of Education (Sociology major). South Australian College of Advanced Education, (Underdale 1980) and Murdoch University (1978-9).

Certificate of Teaching. Graylands Teachers' College, Western Australia (1969)

Honours, awards and grants
  • 1996 - The Australian Award for Excellence in Publishing, Tertiary single book (wholly Australian) for Cheek J, Shoebridge J, Willis E and Zadoroznyi M, Society & Health: Social Theory for Health Workers, Addison Wesley, Longman, Melbourne.
  • 2012 - Office of Learning and Teaching Citation Award, Teaching sociology to health professional students
Teaching interests
I have a strong interest in the use of expressive phenomenological and critical approaches to the teaching of health to health professionals. The phenomenological approach to classroom teaching attempts to provide students with opportunities to immerse themselves in the lived experiences of populations and individuals who are ill and in need for care. The critical approach brings the political, social and cultural realities of professional practice into the classroom discussion and reflection.
Higher degree by research supervision
Principal supervisor: Iindigenous health and health care reform (4)
Associate supervisor: Nursing and health care reform (4)
Principal supervisor: Nursing, health reform, Indigenous health (4)
Associate supervisor: Nursing, health reform, Indigenous health (6)
Expert for media contact
Aboriginal Issues
Labour Studies
Health Services and Industrial Relations
Health professional working time
Available for contact via
Or contact the media team
+61 8 82012092
0427 398 713
Media expertise
  • Aboriginal Issues
  • Immigration
  • Labour Studies
  • Nursing
  • Work
  • Health Services and Industrial Relations
  • Health professional working time