School of Population Health

Key Social Research Areas

Social studies of public health surveillance and interventions
A/Prof Niamh Stephenson

This research focus examines how public health reaches out into people’s everyday lives and how people’s creative uptake of health messages forces responses on the part of public health.

A/Prof Stephenson currently holds two ARC Discovery projects on this topic. One, Pandemic influenza: People, policy, science (with Dr Mark Davis, Monash University) examines gaps between public concerns about pandemic influenza and Australian preparedness efforts. See Pandemic influenza: people, policy, science.

The second, Ultrasound, embodiment and abortion: An analysis of foetal imaging and the ethics of the selective termination of pregnancy (with Dr Catherine Mills, University of Sydney) considers how the increasingly routine use of ultrasound in pregnancy is impacting on women’s experiences of pregnancy and on contemporary public debates about termination. See Ultrasound, embodiment and abortion: An analysis of foetal imaging and the ethics of the selective termination of pregnancy.

A/Prof Stephenson is also completing a book (co-authored with Professor Susan Kippax, Social Policy Research Centre) on how the global response to HIV is shaping international public health efforts more generally.


Social cohesion/community engagement research
Dr Anne Bunde-Birouste, Dr Sally Nathan

The health promotion and community development group specialises in innovative approaches to applied, action research focused on health and peace-building, community participation in health, and participatory applied research in innovative health promotion approaches for working with disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in Australia and internationally.

Of particular note is the study of sport for social change through the Football United program. The program investigates equity of access and impact, corporate engagement in social change programs, campus community partnerships, and impacts on participants’ health and wellbeing and on social inclusion and cohesion with Social Cohesion through Football, an ARC Linkage project (CIs Sally Nathan and Anne Bunde Birouste, C. Evers, L. Kemp , J. MacKenzie, R. Henley). See Football United: Refugee Youth Soccer Development Program.

Research Excellence in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (REACCH) was a program of research involving the Kirby Institute for Infection and Immunity in Society (The Kirby), the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and four state Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS): Goondir Health Services (QLD), the Aboriginal Medical Service Western Sydney (NSW), Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia Inc (SA) and the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service (VAHS). REACCH was funded for five years in 2009 by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centres of Research Excellence (CRE) grant. REACCH research projects had a focus on sexually transmissible diseases and blood borne viruses. A qualitative evaluation of the implementation and impact of REACCH capacity development and research governance was undertaken from late 2015 to early 2016. It focussed on collecting and analysing the perspective and experiences of Aboriginal Community-Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) participants and other key stakeholders.  The data were collected, analysed and written up in this report by a team at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, UNSW Australia.

View Report - Evaluation of research governance, processes and capacity building in the Research Excellence in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health (REACCH) Collaboration >>


Healthcare and health promotion for vulnerable groups
Dr Husna Razee, Dr Sally Nathan

This research examines situational and structural factors which affect the provision of health promotion and the quality and safety of healthcare for vulnerable groups including: the elderly; youth; women; people with disabilities; Indigenous groups; people from refugee and immigrant backgrounds; overseas students; people from lower socio-economic backgrounds; homeless persons; geographically and socially isolated individuals and other vulnerable groups.

Dr Joanne Travaglia is supervising and/or collaborating on a number of projects relating to the quality and safety of care for the elderly and people with disabilities (with Dr Ros Poulos, Associate Professor Chris Poulos and Jed Horner); on the role of health management in mitigating or responding to disasters, crises and emergencies; on the application of critical theories as a way of understanding the construction and practice of patient safety, infection control, health management, and health service delivery; and on models of consumer engagement (with Sally Nathan). Dr Husna Razee is a CI (with M. Whittaker, University of Queensland, Dr Lorraine Yap and Associate Professor Rohan Jayasuriya) on Health worker performance improvement, an Australian Development Awards grant. Dr Sally Nathan is also involved in research on the experiences of vulnerable young people in health services (Program for Adolescent Life Management).


Professional formation, workforce development and transitions in the health sector
Dr Lois Meyer

This research looks at the intersection of broader social transformations impacting on the health professions and implications for their identities and practices in and across workplace settings.


Criminology, penology and health
Dr Sally Nathan

The criminology, penology and health research group (with colleagues from the Kirby Institute, Professor Tony Butler and Bradley Mathers) focuses on the social aspects of health and its effect on community and prison crime prevention, prison recidivism, and reducing the burden of disease from offender populations to the community.

We focus on health inequalities in prisons, health service delivery, and behavioural surveillance among prisoners, ex-prisoners and community-based offenders. Some of the areas include mental health, physical and sexual violence, sexual health, blood-borne viruses (hepatitis C, HIV), HIV and other sexually transmissible infections, drug and alcohol addictions, and tobacco smoking.

The group is committed to contributing to Indigenous and non-Indigenous prisoner and community-based offender health policies nationally. We are also involved in global health criminology and penology, and have HIV, STI and tuberculosis co-infection projects in China and Papua New Guinea and in partnership with other organisations in Indonesia and Malaysia.