About Maternal and child health and social determinants: diverse experiences and future challenges


Women and Children’s Health, Health Disparities and Social Aspects of Health research theme group, School of Public Health, The University of Queensland

Five members of this theme group will give brief presentations that showcase the diverse nature of research in this area.

Lisa Fitzgerald - Precarity and health

The concept of precarity has rapidly grown as a focus of enquiry in social sciences. Precarity focuses on the living and working conditions of economically and socially marginalized groups and is associated with global changes such as the Great Recession and increasing casualisation of the labour market. Precarity is being explored in public health, including the impact of neo-liberal or austerity health policy changes on those most marginalized.

Examining the lived experience of precarity is a research theme that cuts across most of the research projects that I am involved in. I will discuss short examples from two projects: the ARC Linkage project “Living Positive in Queensland” and a new project working with Leigh Tooth “The experience of debt and how it influences women’s health”.

Leigh Tooth - Further education at different life course stages: Associations with physical and mental health in women

Data from the ABS shows that while a majority of women have achieved their highest educational attainment in their mid to late 20s, that a small but significant proportion of women achieve further education later in life. Indeed, data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health show for example that 11% of women who were aged 45-50 years at baseline (in 1996) had increased their educational qualifications by the time they were aged in their mid-late 60s. This presentation describes an analysis of whether further education in young adult and mid-life [adult educational mobility] influences physical functioning and depressive symptoms in women.

Chi-Wai Lui - Perception of Unit Cohesion, Work Experience and Arrangement: A Study of Female Australian Defence Force Members deployed to the Middle East

The number of women serving in the Australian Defence Force has risen rapidly over the past decades. Given this development there is an urgent need for better understanding of the wellbeing, experiences and difficulties encountered by female veterans. This presentation reports the findings of a study that examines these issues amongst a large sample of Australian female service personnel who were recently deployed to the Middle East.

Liz Barber - Examining the links between healthy child development and urban nature

Opportunities to experience nature may be important for child health and development, particularly as they prepare to enter full-time schooling. However, such opportunities are often inequitably distributed across society. To date, no large scale studies have considered the linkages between specific elements of nature, socioeconomic status and diverse domains of child health and development benefits for children. This study begins to address this critical gap through examining whether there is an association between child health and development and the presence of urban nature after accounting for income-related child health and development inequality in Brisbane populations. Using publically available health and development data for a population of children aged 5-7 from 118 Brisbane suburbs I explore whether access to urban nature modifies outcomes for children with low socio-economic advantage.

Ingrid Rowlands - Seeking health information online among young, rural women: Association with physical, mental and reproductive health

Going online for health information may be particularly useful for women living in rural and remote areas of Australia where access to health services is often limited. However, relatively little is known about the extent to which young women use the Internet as a health information resource and whether use differs by health status and among women living in rural and urban areas. Using data from around 17,000 young women aged 18-23 years who participated in the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health, this presentation describes the physical, mental and reproductive health factors related to women’s online health seeking behaviours and whether this differs by area of residence.


Room 015, Public Health Building, Herston