Current Research Projects

Health impacts of climate change on Indigenous Australians. Identifying climate thresholds to enable the development of informed adaptation strategies

  • Researchers: Donna Green, Hilary Bambrick, Lisa Alexander, Andy Pitman. Funded by an NHMRC Project Grant ($348,581). 
The health impacts of climate change will not be evenly distributed across the population. Some groups will be more adversely affected than others, especially those with a high prevalence of chronic disease and who are socioeconomically disadvantaged. This NHMRC-funded project is modelling the impacts of climate variability and change on Indigenous and non-Indigenous morbidity in Australia in order to better understand factors that may increase Indigenous vulnerability and to discover opportunities for prevention and adaptation. The impacts of climate change on the psychosocial health of people living in remote communities are also being explored.

Urban thermal stress and climate change 

  • Researchers: Hilary Bambrick, Pavla Vaneckova, Anthony Burton. Project funded as part of the CSIRO Flagship Collaboration on Urbanism, Climate Adaptation and Health ($1,700,000).
This project examines climate change vulnerability and adaptation in western Sydney, especially to extreme heat, models future health scenarios, and explores strategies for urban planning adaptation.

The construction and experience of fertility in the context of cancer: patient, partner and health professionals 

  • Researchers: Jane Ussher, Janette Perz, Emilee Gilbert (CI), Gerry Wain, Kendra Sundquist, Gill Batt, Kim Hobbs, Laura Kirsten, Catherine Mason, Pandora Patterson, Edith Weisberg (PI). Funded by an ARC Linkage Grant ($693,824). 
Changes to fertility can be experienced as the most difficult long term effect of cancer diagnosis and treatment. However, health professionals rarely address this important health issue, and there has been no examination of fertility concerns post-cancer across gender, across a broad range of cancer types, or from the perspective of partners. This study will examine the gendered construction and experience of fertility for men and women with cancer, their partners, and health-professionals. Psycho-social, emotional and identity concomitants of fertility concerns will be examined, as well as negotiation within relationships, and professional communication, leading to the development and evaluation of a psycho-educational intervention. 

Find out more about the Cancer and Fertility study (opens in a new window)

If you are a Health Care Practitioner, find out about the Cancer and Fertility study for HCP (opens in a new window)

Sex after 55 research study

Researchers: Professor Jane Ussher, Professor Janette Perz, Doctor Chloe Parton and Alexandra Hawkey.

Sexuality is a central aspect of quality of life, intimate relationships, and identity. Whilst there have been a number of research studies examining sexuality in young people and those of reproductive age, there has been little research on the experiences of sexuality and sexual wellbeing in women post the menopause transition and during later life. The aim of the proposed project is to examine the ways in which women experience sexuality in later life. Having greater understanding of women's lived experiences will allow for the development of appropriate health information and sexual service provision.

Find out more (opens in a new window)

Sexual wellbeing and quality of life after prostate cancer for gay and bisexual men and their partners

  • Researchers: Jane Ussher, Janette Perz, Suzanne Chambers, David Latini, Ian Davis, Scott Williams, Alan Brotherton, Gary Dowsett. Funded by the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, Movember New Concept Grant, in partnership with ANZUP Clinical Trials Group and ACON.

It is estimated that 600 - 1000 Australian gay men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year. This study aims to examine the psychological burden of changes to sexual wellbeing, sexual identity and intimate relationships in gay and bisexual men with prostate cancer and their male partners. Sexuality and intimacy are important aspects of an individual's Quality of Life, with changes to sexual functioning, relationships, and sense of self reported to be among the most negative influences on the wellbeing of men with prostate cancer. However, the focus of previous research has been heterosexual men, with gay and bisexual men with prostate cancer being described as an "invisible diversity", or a "hidden population". This has led to a plea for research on the impact of potentially important differences in sexuality, identity, and intimate relationships on gay and bisexual men's experience of prostate cancer, which can be used to inform health education and health promotion, as well as lead to targeted psycho-social interventions. More details  (opens in a new window)

Young women's experiences of cigarette smoking: a qualitative examination of the intersection of gender, class, cultural and sexual identity 

  • Researchers: Emilee Gilbert, Jane Ussher, Janette Perz. Funded by an ARC Discovery Grant ($171,663).

Cigarette smoking is the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in Australia, presenting serious health effects unique to women, with young women specifically at risk. While anti-smoking policies and practices have been instrumental in reducing the overall rate of smoking, they have been less effective at reducing rates of smoking among young women, in particular, young women from disadvantaged social classes, those who are socially marginalised, and those from Indigenous and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) communities. This is of concern as smoking is associated with unique gender and age specific health risks for young women. This research study uses a multi-layered qualitative approach which includes semi-structured individual interviews and cultural probe activities to explore the intersections of gender, social class, cultural identity and sexual identity in relation to smoking. The study will give insight into the constructions, meanings and experiences of smoking for young women smokers and ex-smokers aged 18-30 years. It will examine how young women negotiate and position anti-smoking policies and practices in the context of their everyday lives, and explore the circumstances and conditions that contribute to smoking cessation for ex-smokers. The study will contribute to knowledge that will directly lead to the development of targeted anti-smoking interventions.

Find out more about the Young Women and Cigarette Smoking Study  (opens in a new window)

Sexual and Reproductive health of Migrant and Refugee Women: An international comparison 

  • Researchers: Janette Perz, Jane Ussher, Renu Narchal (CIs) in partnership with Family Planning NSW: Jane Estoesta, Jane Wicks; Community Migrant Resource Centre: Melissa Monteiro; and Simon Fraser University, Vancouver: Marina Morrow (PIs). Funded by an ARC Linkage Grant ($271,144 and $129,000 from partner organisations).

Sexual health is a key component of women's quality of life, with utilisation of sexual health services associated with positive mental health. However, these services are underutilised by migrant and refugee communities, resulting in negative sexual health outcomes. This project will investigate the experiences and constructions of sexual health for women from a range of recent migrant and refugee communities living in Australia and Canada, in order to understand unmet needs, and inform targeted service provision. This research project uses a multi-layered qualitative approach, which includes focus groups and semi-structured interviews with community interviewers. Data will be analysed through thematic analysis, in-depth group comparisons and case studies. Guidelines for programs of sexual health education and promotion will then be developed, and subjected to a formative evaluation, from the perspective of key stakeholders.

Find out more about the Sexual and Reproductive Health of Migrant and Refugee Women Study  (opens in a new window)

Walk the talk: Phase II study of an online population-based intervention to improve the mental health of young people who are unemployed.

  • Researchers: Vanessa Rose, Janette Perz. Funded by an Australian Rotary Health Grant ($128,796)

This phase II randomised controlled trial aims to investigate the efficacy of an online self-directed vocationally-oriented cognitive behavioural program ('Walk the Talk') in improving the mental health of young people who are unemployed. The online program features dramatised video of cognitive self-talk, coping with unemployment, job-searching, attending interviews and maintaining employment once in the workforce; online quizzes comprising multiple choice items to self-test understanding of content material; and downloadable diary sheets, activities, website links and tips. Participants will be aged between 17-25 years and currently looking for full-time employment. Results will assist with interpreting intervention integrity and will be used to make any required modifications to the program before a planned phase III large population scale intervention trial.

The MISHA Project

  • Researchers: Paul Flatau, Lucy Burns, Elizabeth Conroy, Bridget Spicer, Tony Eardley. Funded by Mission Australia through a philanthropic donation ($230,568)

The MISHA Project was a collaborative research venture with Mission Australia that commenced in late 2010. It aimed to evaluate Michael's Intensive Supportive Housing Accord (MISHA), a 'housing-first'-type model that provided housing and case management for 75 chronically-homeless men in the Parramatta area.  The evaluation involved: 1) Two year longitudinal client survey examining outcomes with respect to housing, economic and social participation, and physical and mental health; 2) In-depth interviews with clients and caseworkers to explore the critical success factors and barriers for the project; and 3) Cost analysis that modelled the savings associated with providing the MISHA service compared to the costs that would have been incurred by the government if the sample had remained homeless. The baseline and 12-month findings have been published and the 24 month findings are available in the From Homelessness to Sustained Housing: MISHA Research Report 2010-2013 (PDF, 2405.97 KB) (opens in a new window). It is hoped that the findings from this research will inform housing and homelessness policy and improve the design of similar programs in the future. The Mission Australia  (opens in a new window)  website has further details.

In November 2014, the MISHA Evaluation won the Excellence in Social Impact Measurement award. The award was presented by the Social Impact Measurement Network of Australia (SIMNA) and recognises best practice in outcomes measurement in the social sector. (opens in a new window)

^ Back To Top