The purpose of these eight research themes is to facilitate information exchange and collaboration among the School's researchers with diverse methodological backgrounds around a shared area of research.
Research in mental health is primarily population-based and involves health services research utilising large-scale survey and administrative datasets to determine the prevalence, distribution, risk factors, mortality and disability from mental disorders, model and evaluate service system interventions for these disorders and analyse and inform mental health policy. It aims to inform and influence how governments and the private sector design and implement evidence-based programs in mental health.
Research on substance abuse also involves large-scale population-based investigations concerning the natural history, life course predictors and treatment outcomes associated with the use of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines and a wide range of other licit and illicit substances. There is a particular emphasis on key population groups affected by substance use problems including young persons and Indigenous Australians.
Prevention and management of chronic disease and promoting healthy lifestyles
Research in this area focuses on preventing morbidity and mortality, improving quality of life and promoting healthy lifestyles in local, national, and global settings. Targeted health areas include physical activity/sedentary behaviour, nutrition, obesity and chronic diseases. Prevention initiatives address new and emerging public health needs through the design, implementation and evaluation of community-based interventions/programs, and translation of the evidence into health policy and practice to reduce the disease burden in populations.
Research in this area includes infectious disease epidemiology, which aims to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of public health interventions. Specific diseases include parasitic diseases, such as schistosomiasis; soil-transmitted helminths and echinococcosis; mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue; food and water-borne infections; respiratory infections such as pneumonia and respiratory syncytial virus; zoonotic infections such as leptospirosis; and emerging healthcare-acquired infections, such as Clostridium difficile, and HIV/AIDS and STIs. This research applies contemporary epidemiological tools, including spatial epidemiology, biostatistics, mathematical modelling and molecular epidemiology, and community intervention trials, to answer key questions regarding optimal infectious disease control programs. Health systems research on the programmatic use of epidemiological and other data such as biological, economic and qualitative to design, implement, monitor and evaluate disease control programmes, and policy research on the translation of this evidence into global disease control programs is another major focus of the School's work.
Research in this area focuses on developing and using the best evidence to improve the utilisation, universal coverage and sustainability of health services and programmes. Studies measure population health ('burden of disease'), emphasising economic evaluations (eg. 'cost-effectiveness'), and adequacy of health services (in terms of quality, equity, coverage, acceptability, accessibility, affordability and effectiveness) in Australia and globally. Our research also focuses on building capacity in governments and researchers in developing countries to undertake a range of health information-linked, and economic-related research. Other major foci of this research stream include understanding the policy processes and drivers within countries and regions and effective ways of translating public health research evidence into priority setting, policies and practice.
Women and children’s health, health disparities and social aspects of health
Research in this area is concerned with the health priorities and challenges of particular population subgroups. A significant component of the research makes use of longitudinal datasets facilitating investigation of the health and well-being of women and children over their life course. Such studies document changes in health related behaviours and subsequent health, including mental health, and reproductive outcomes. Research on vulnerable groups, health disparities and social aspects of health addresses the behavioural, social and cultural factors that shape health and contribute to differences in health risks, the quality of health and health care across populations. This includes food security and nutrition, other health risks and outcomes, and access to health careacross racial, ethnic, sexual orientation and socioeconomic groups. Aspects of this theme link also with the infectious disease, health policy and economic-related research.
Research in this area contributes to methodology for longitudinal studies, clinical trials and disease surveillance. It also includes innovations in qualitative research and mixed methods, measurement in population health and research synthesis, as well as the scholarship of population health teaching and learning. Increasing availability of linkage between population-based data sets is opening new opportunities for research. This research contributes to the development of policy and treatment and guides the substantial teaching programs in the area.
Environmental health research focuses on the links between the environment and population health. This expands our understanding of risks and impacts that arise from population growth and distribution, including economic, social and technology development and climate change.
Research in occupational health and injury has a focus on identification of a broad range of risk factors including falls and trauma, along with the risks arising from military, physical, chemical, and other workplace hazards and related efforts to maintain a healthy working environment.
The scholarship of teaching develops from a basis of scholarly teaching in a discipline but is not the same as excellent teaching. It involves exploring, testing, practicing and communicating improved pedagogies, learning processes, curricula, policies and learning materials. It requires an understanding of who the learners are, how they learn and what practices are most effective in the context of the discipline (pedagogical content knowledge). It breaks new ground, is innovative and can be replicated and elaborated.