School of Population Health

Pandemic influenza: people, policy, science

image - Pandemic influenza: people, policy, science

This Australian Research Council Discovery Project examines how Australia responded to H1N1 2009 (Swine flu) and similar outbreaks, so that we can better prepare for future pandemics. Using in-depth interviews with everyday Australians and policy-makers, document analysis, and policy research workshops, the Project will investigate the conditions of everyday life that influence how Australians think, feel and act with regard to pandemic influenza. It will also focus on the related challenges of: the prevention and treatment of influenza; the gaps between policy and everyday life; and the political ramifications of pandemic infectious diseases. This Discovery Project will supply rich and unprecedented data for the advancement of pandemic control in Australia. The research will be conducted in Melbourne and Sydney.

The research is oriented to four questions:

  1. How do the material and social conditions of everyday life influence how Australians think, feel and act with regard to pandemic influenza?
  2. With reference to the above question, how can Australians be assisted to use the social and biomedical technologies of pandemic control?
  3. What are the effects of gaps between the practices of everyday citizens and the assumptions and priorities in the research and policy supporting pandemic control?
  4. What are the political challenges for pandemic control, and how could these be addressed?

The researchers

  • Dr Mark Davis, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Arts, Monash University
  • Dr Niamh Stephenson, School of Population Health, UNSW
  • Professor Paul Flowers, Department of Psychology, School of Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Emily Waller, School of Population Health, UNSW
  • Davina Lohm, School of Political and Social Inquiry, Faculty of Arts, Monash University


Davis, M., Stephenson, N. & Flowers, P. (2011) Compliant, complacent or panicked? Investigating the problematisation of the Australian general public in pandemic influenza control, Social Science and Medicine, 72(6): 912-918. DOI:10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.01.016

Ijamakinwa, O. & Stepenson, N. (Accepted with revisions December 2011). Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Africa at the crossroads. Journal of Public Health in Africa.

Stephenson, N. (2011) A Social Public Health: Editors Choice. American Journal of Public Health, 101 (7): 1159. DOI:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300240

Stephenson, N. (2011). Emerging infectious disease/Emerging forms of biological sovereignty. Science, Technology & Human Values: Journal for Social Studies of Science. 36 (5) 616 – 637. DOI 10.1177/0162243910388023

Stephenson, N. (forthcoming, 2012). The disappearing act of global health security. In C. Enemark & M. Selgelid (Eds.) Ethics and Security Aspects of Infectious Disease Control: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Surrey: Ashgate.

Invited conference/workshop presentations

Davis, M. (2011) How to have theory in health sociology, Invited oral presentation, Health day: Engaging theory in health sociology, The Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, University of Newcastle, 28 November.

Stephenson, N. (2011). Vulnerability/Security: What is at stake with the splintering of public health’s public in pandemic preparedness efforts? Invited paper at the Sydney Institute for Emerging Infections & Biosecurity Pandemic Flu Planning Workshop, University of Sydney, 24 November.

Stephenson, N. (2011). Resilient infrastructure/vulnerable populations. Invited paper at closed seminar on Biosecurity, Resilience and Governance, organised by Prof. Pat O’Malley and Prof. Catherine Waldby, University of Sydney, 10-11 November.

Davis, M., Stephenson, N. & Flowers, P. (2011) How can we effectively communicate with the general public on pandemic influenza? Invited oral presentation, Session 2: Risk communication during and after pandemics, International Pandemic Preparedness and Response Conference: Finding the Balance between Vigilance, Warning and Action & Lessons from Disaster Management, Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 18-19 April.

Davis, M. & Flowers, P. (2010) Constraint, volition and public confidence in pandemic influenza control. Paper presented at Session 8: Epidemics and pandemics, ISA RC15 Sociology of health, International Sociological Association XVII World Congress, Gothenburg, Sweden, 11-17 July.

Panel presentation

Pandemic influenza: people, policy, science’ . Four papers at the Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, University of Newcastle, 30 November, 2011. Organised by Niamh Stephenson & Mark Davis.

  1. Mark Davis, Living ‘post-pandemic’ and responding to influenza pandemics
  2. Casimir MacGregor, Hope in a Time of Uncertainty: Public Engagement of Science, Ontological Security and the H1N1 Influenza Pandemic in Australia
  3. Davina Lohm, ‘Soldier on’ or surrender? Military discourse and its dilemmas for Australians responding to influenza
  4. Niamh Stephenson, The splintering of public health’s public in pandemic preparedness efforts: How human rights approaches work with the securitisation of health

Conference presentation accepted

Davis, M. & Lohm, D. ‘‘Post-pandemic’ affect and outbreak narrative’ for Crossroads in Cultural Studies 2012, Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris, 2-6 July

Related publications

Ezegbe, C. & Stephenson, N. (Accepted 17th January 2012, forthcoming March 2012) The Reach and Limits of PEPFAR funding of PMTCT of HIV in Nigeria. African Journal of Reproductive Medicine.

Kippax, S. & Stephenson, N. (Accepted November 2011) Beyond the distinction between biomedical and social dimensions of HIV: Prevention through the lens of a social public health. American Journal of Public Health.

Flowers, P., Davis, M., Larkin, M., Church, S. & Marriott, C. (2011) Understanding the impact of HIV diagnosis amongst gay men in Scotland: an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Psychology and Health, 10, 1378-91 DOI:10.1080/08870446.2010.551213, Available online: 20 June 2011.

Knussen, C., McDaid, L., Flowers. P. (2011) Reluctance to be tested for HIV. BMJ Rapid Response; 20 October 2011.

Knussen C, Flowers P, McDaid LM, Hart GJ. (2011) HIV-related sexual risk behaviour between 1996 and 2008, according to age, among men who have sex with men (Scotland). Sexually Transmitted Infections; 87:257-9.

Davis, M. & Flowers, P. (2011) Love and HIV serodiscordance in gay men’s accounts of life with their regular partners. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 13(7): 737-749

Clutterbuck, D., Flowers, P., Fakoya, A., Barber, T., Wilson, H., Nelson, M., Kapp, S. & Hedge, B. (2010) The UK national guidelines on safer sex advice. Produced jointly by the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV and the British HIV Association.

Davis, M. & Squire, C. eds (2010) HIV treatment and prevention technologies in international perspective, Palgrave Macmillan. 224 pages.

Flowers, P. (2010) HIV transitions: consequences for self in an era of medicalisation. In Davis, M. and Squire, C. (eds) HIV technologies in international perspective, Palgrave Macmillan. London

Davis, M. (2010) Advancing biosocial pedagogy for HIV education, Health Education Research. doi:10.1093/her/cyq047

Stephenson, N & Jamieson, M. (2009) Securitising health: Australian newspaper coverage of pandemic influenza. Sociology of Health & Illness, 31 (4): 525-539. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9566.2009.01162.x

Wraith, C. & Stephenson, N (2009) Risk, Insurance, Preparedness & the Disappearance of the Population: The Case of Pandemic influenza. Health Sociology Review, 18 (3): 220-233

Pandemic Influenza links

Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing:

Victorian Government, Department of Health:

UK Government, Health Protection Agency:

FluWeb Influenza Historical Resources Database