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Research Areas

In addition to independent research works, the counselling team at University of Canberra is conducting research on:

  • educational aspects of counsellor development;
  • reflective practice; and
  • clinical supervision.

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Environmental Health is a new area being offered for study by the Faculty of Health at UC. Currently there is no research being undertaken in this area.

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The Discipline of Midwifery at the University of Canberra has a strong commitment to research, with a particular emphasis on research which is connected to the practice or profession of midwifery, promotes woman-centred care and contributes to the health and well-being of childbearing women and their families.

A vibrant faculty wide research culture provides opportunity for scholarly exchange with research students and staff members from a variety of other health related disciplines including; nutrition and dietetics, physiotherapy, public health, pharmacy, sport studies, psychology, nursing and occupational therapy.

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The Discipline of Nursing at University of Canberra have a strong commitment to research, with a particular emphasis on research which is connected to practice, within both academic and clinical settings. Thus research concerns teaching and learning at the university as well as clinical and service issues in all areas of health and professional practice. Particular areas of strength are:

  • midwifery and perinatal issues;
  • critical care;
  • community health;
  • ageing and aged care;
  • mental health;
  • disaster health; and
  • professional issues.

These research strengths are reflected in the supervision of our higher degree students who participate in a lively culture of scholarly exchange.

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The Discipline of Nutrition and Dietetics at the University of Canberra aims to contribute to Best Practice in Nutrition and Dietetics through the combined research efforts of their academic staff.

The academics conduct research aimed at increasing applied knowledge in Nutrition and Dietetics. Current projects range from:

  • the area of medical nutrition therapy – asking questions such as 'How many hospital patients are malnourished?'; to
  • public health nutrition – asking questions such as 'What does a socially sustainable food system look like?'

We welcome graduates of nutrition degrees at UC or elsewhere to apply to undertake higher degrees by research on our projects.

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Occupational therapy research is focused on what people need to do, want to do or are expected to do. This broad focus lends itself to some exciting and varied research opportunities.

At the University of Canberra we are specifically looking at how older people use their time and interact with their environments. We are also interested in how public spaces influence health and well-being. We are also looking into how individuals recover from a stroke and how they cope when they are not able to drive anymore.

There are opportunities for students to progress to higher degrees (such as a Masters of Science or Doctor of Philosophy).


  • Assoc. Prof. Stephen Isbel - Post stroke rehabilitation, practice education, driver rehabilitation
  • Ms Amelia Di Tommaso - Issues of occupational therapy representation, occupation focused practice, occupational therapy theory and philosophy
  • Assoc. Prof. Alison Wicks - Community-based occupation-focused groups, occupation for population health, narratives and life history

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Master of Pharmacy (Research)

A Master of Pharmacy (Research) Program was established in 2006 and graduates have been attracted from primary care and health administration. This Research Program is available to pharmacists and other graduates who have an interest in developing their research skills.

A Doctor of Philosophy program is designed to provide an opportunity for high caliber students to undertake extensive independent research in a specialised field of study. It is a highly desirable qualification in any workplace.

Areas of current research strength include education, primary care innovations, clinical pharmacy, pharmacoepidemiology, new drug evaluation, quality use of medicines, pharmaceutical sciences and complementary medicines research.

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Master of Physiotherapy (Research)

This course meets the needs of graduates from physiotherapy or other approved areas of health science who wish to further develop their expertise in physiotherapy by research. It is an opportunity for students with relevant research skills and experience to undertake independant research in an area of interest that contributes to the physiotherapy evidence and knowledge base and published literature.

Doctor of Philosophy in Health

This program provides an opportunity for high calibre students to undertake intensive independent research in a specialised field or study. This pathway opens up careers in teaching, academic careers, research careers, and is also a highly desirable qualification in any workplace.

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Our academic staff are active researchers who can provide research supervision at Honours, Postgraduate, and PhD levels in our Australian Psychology Accreditation Council (APAC) accredited programs. Our staff and PhD students are engaged in a range of applied research topics, particularly in clinical, community, forensic, and health psychology. The centre has research strengths in youth mental health, social inclusion, stress and coping, and psychosocial aspects of health care and preventative health. Our applied research includes multi-disciplinary, translational, and program evaluation research aimed at quality service delivery and enhancing children’s and adults’ wellbeing and resilience in schools, workplaces, and the community.

Public Health Research that Counts

Study and research opportunities with the Health Research Institute (UC-HRI) will offer broad experience in finding solutions to public health problems. The Institute also focuses on advances in research methods, actively bringing a wide range of disciplinary expertise to bear on the problems it is trying to solve. Current disciplines include epidemiology, psychology, biostatistics, economics, geographic information systems, ecology, policy analysis, sociology and mathematical modelling.

Strong relationships with policy partners and external academic colleagues are fostered. The Institute has a growing reputation for conducting research that leads to compelling insights and policy solutions that really work.
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UC Research Institute For Sport and Exercise

The University of Canberra Research Institute for Sport and Exercise (UC-RISE) conducts research focussing on optimising human performance and health through exercise. Research integrates the expertise within the Discipline of Sport Studies and also from within the Faculty of Heath, for example in physiotherapy, psychology, nutrition and public health. Additional expertise is also available from other areas within the University. For example, sport related projects have been undertaken with experts in Industrial Design (Faculty of Art and Design) with regard to the design and fabrication of sport equipment and with experts in the Faculty of Information Sciences and Engineering to investigate complex trends in match data using advanced computing and mathematical solutions.


Research Projects

Title: Becoming and being sustainable healthcare providers: Capturing healthcare provider (Award Number: 2013/04).

Dr Maggie Jamieson

Literature review underway for completion by December 3. A person has been engaged on a UC5 contract to undertake this piece of work. Participant recruitment underway, but data collection is awaiting final ethics approval, following minor requested revisions. Prospective participants are aware that we are awaiting final ethics approval prior to interviewing. To date, 14 persons, all clinicians, have expressed an interest in participating in the study. They will be interviewed as soon as minor ethics revisions are approved (expected this week). The transcriber has been engaged and is aware of the tight time frame, and is ready to undertake transcription. All monies are expected to be expended by Dec 31.

Outputs expected:

  • per original timetable,
  • literature review completed
  • thematic analysis to be undertaken in January 2014.

Title: Virtual World Interview Skills Training for Health Professionals: Investigation of Psychometric Properties of Measures Used and Program Effectiveness

Assoc Prof Lynne Magor-Blatch

Completed Tasks

The research team along with the research assistant has accomplished the following tasks:

  • Collated information from 3 separate data files provided by the University of Sydney team.
  • Transferred the data into SPSS and prepared one mega datafile matching information for participants collected at 3 different occasions (baseline, avatar-based interview skills module, and traditional role playing module).
  • Completed the preliminary data checking to examine any outliers or extreme scores in the data.
  • Qualitative data collected by the UC team as part of the project has been entered in the datafile by matching each participant's open-ended responses with their quantitative data.

Work in progress

CIB (Dr Bhullar) is currently working closely with the research assistant to:

  • Conduct reliability analyses to examine the psychometric properties of the measures used in the project
  • Conduct pre-post-test analyses to examine the effectiveness of the interview skills programs (avatar-based virtual world interviewing skills module vs. traditional role playing module).
  • Write-up the manuscript describing the findings of the present project.

Title: Exploring patterns in psychostimulant treatment for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in New South Wales and South Australia (1990-2011)

Dr Brenton Prosser

Data purchase and analysis, along with conference attendance has been completed for this project. The professional development package for educators has not yet been commenced. The networking and collaboration component of the project has been met through work with new colleagues at the University of Nebraska and University of Florida. Funds will be spent by end of December 2013 (with an estimated underspend of $180.87). Three papers are to be completed for submission in February 2014.

Outputs so far:

  • Peer-reviewed conference paper presented.
  • Peer- reviewed paper in conference proceedings published.
  • Future Fellowship application submitted.

Title: Knees in Motion

Assoc Prof Jennie Scarvell

Methods of imaging in 4-dimensions have progressed with some improvements to the programming to improve ease of use. Methods of EMG and fluoroscopy being refined ready for the project.

Recruitment has not yet commenced. Funds will be spent by end of December 2013. The research staff will be employed through ACT Health, in order to be able to access imaging.

Outputs so far:

  • The paper resulting from this study will be prepared for submission by March 2014.

Project title: In vitro evaluation of environmentally benign formulations for the management of pediculosis (head lice) in humans (Award Number: 2013/09)

Asst Prof Jackson Thomas

Consumables, equipment (purchased) and work related travel have been finalised for this project. Experimental protocol and human research ethics application documents have been finalised and submitted for approval by liaising with interstate collaborators. Measures have been taken to collect live lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) for the in vitro assay. The head lice will be collected from human volunteers (school children and/or other infested individuals) via free head lice inspection clinics conducted in early 2014 (February). The funds will be spent by December 2013 and final report to be submitted by April 2014.

Outcomes so far:

  1. Completion of literature review (project report/manuscript introduction)
  2. Development & finalisation of assay protocol
  3. Finalisation of ethics application documentation

Research Project

TITLE: Natural Experiments in Urban Form, Community and Healthy Sustainable Lifestyles

Dr Léan O'Brian

The 2013 wave of the study has been conducted. Research assistant support on data management and analysis has been ongoing since grant award and will conclude at the end of 2013, exhausting the budget for this expense. Shared measures for the Crace vs. Malvik collaboration have been identified, and funds for travel to Norway for joint analysis and presentation at the International Health Promotion Forum conference will be spent by end 2013. Two papers and an article in The Conversation are to be completed for submission in early 2014, and a conference presentation will be delivered in mid-2014.

Outputs so far:

  • 2013 wave data collection completed, n=425.
  • Summary reports for the 2012 wave of The Crace Study prepared and disseminated.
  • Harmonised database constructed for The Crace Study and Live Well in Malvik.

Research Projects

Title: Promoting physical activity after stroke via self-management: A feasibility study

Asst Prof Elisabeth Preston

For logistical reasons commencing recruitment was delayed (e.g. long period of leave by the stroke liaison nurse at TCH), however, since commencement in October, five participants have consented to inclusion in phase 1 of this study. Initial measures have been completed for each by a research assistant blinded to the purpose of the study, Two participants have completed more than half the intervention , and the other three have commenced intervention. Funds will be spent by end of December 2014 (with an estimated underspend of $2000 due to the delay in commencing recruitment).

Title: Driver status, social capital and wellbeing in older people

Assoc Prof Stephen Isbel

An appropriate questionnaire has been develop and distributed with 44 completed questionnaires received. Collaboration with linked studies by Disa Smee and Dr Alison Wicks (UC) and Professor Kaarin Anstey (ANU) is ongoing. Jeanine Wilson (RA) has commenced, initially developing the SPSS database. Data entry will commence this week. All funds will be spent by the end of December.

Outputs so far:

  • Questionnaire development
  • Participant recruitment
  • An SPSS database has been developed and initial data entry has commenced
    • Peer reviewed paper under review

Title: The development, pilot testing and evaluation of a smart phone application to assist pregnant women to achieve a healthy weight gain in pregnancy

Asst Prof Cathy Knight-Agarwal

The scope of the ‘Eating4Two’ system has been developed to provide a simple, visual, graphing application that allows the user to configure their start BMI, estimated due date and ‘weigh In’ throughout the pregnancy. Women, at any time, will be shown where they are in terms of healthy weight gain for their starting BMI (based on height and weight) and the application will monitor, graph and compare maternal weight gain in relation to the Institute Of Medicine (IOM) recommended Gestational Weight Gain (GWG) guidelines. Gestation (in weeks) will be based on calculation from last menstrual period or date given by ultrasound (information entered by the participant). A stakeholder group has been established to inform all stages of the design process and consists of the chief investigators (with expertise in nutrition and dietetics, midwifery and information technology), an obstetrician and four potential consumers.

The study is currently at the stage of recruiting women for the six week pilot.

Title: Falls Risk and Osteoporosis: A Longitudinal Study

Ms Disa Smee

To date, data have been collected from 210 participants for the second wave of this study. Data are currently been entered (FoH grant funded) and data analysis should commence early December (FoH grant funded). I have met with Jeanine Wilson (statistician) to discuss what analysis is appropriate for the data. In addition, the SF-12 software has been purchased, as has the license renewal for the Fallscreen, and both have already been used. All funds have been spent and are in the process of being acquitted.


  • Data collection nearly completed
  • Database under construction
  • Analysis plan in preparation
  • At least two papers will be completed and submitted by July 2014

Title: A pilot study exploring practices, polices and environments for the promotion of outdoor participation for residents in aged care facilities

Assoc Prof Alison Wicks, Application ID 1337


Ethics approval has been received. Swedish collaborator Dr Ingeborg Nilsson has been in Canberra 13-26 November collecting data via interviews and observations. Questionnaire data and physical activity data will be completed by mid December.

All international travel costs have been expended ($120 under budget). Remaining costs for research assistant undertaking transcription and literature review, approximately $4000, will be expended by 20 December.

An abstract for an international occupational science conference in Minnesota, October 2014, has been submitted.