Professor Jan

Professor Jan Nicholson

Inaugural Roberta Holmes Professorial Chair, Transition to Contemporary Parenthood Program

College of Science, Health and Engineering

School of Nursing and Midwifery

Melbourne (City)

Research centres

Judith Lumley Centre


BSc (Otago), BSC Hons (VUW), MSc (Canterbury), PhD (Univ. Queensland)



Area of study

Public Health

Brief profile

Jan Nicholson was appointed as the Inaugural Roberta Holmes Professor in 2014 to establish a research program around the transition to parenthood in contemporary society. She brings extensive experience in longitudinal studies of the effects of family, socioeconomic and institutional (services, school and workplace) influences on the health and wellbeing of parents and children, and the development and evaluations of community-based programs for preventing family-related health problems.

Jan is a Consortium Advisory Group member and Design Team Leader for the Department of Social Services’ study ‘Growing Up in Australia – the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children’. She has established a national group of early career and senior researchers examining the trajectories and effects of mothers’ and fathers’ parenting and mental health, the effects of mothers’ and fathers’ work on parents and children, socioeconomic inequalities in health and development, the determinants, trajectories and health care costs of common childhood disorders including child mental health, language, literacy, obesity and oral health.

Jan heads the TRANSITION TO CONTEMPORARY PARENTHOOD PROGRAM which seeks to make a real difference in the lives and wellbeing of Australian parents and their children. It will achieve this through four inter-related sets of activities:

Australia’s Parents: Their Health and Wellbeing   We will undertake research that helps to build a greater understanding of the experiences of parents in contemporary society, the challenges parents face, and the supports they require as they prepare to become parents and across parenthood. 

Promoting a Healthy Transition to Parenthood   Informed by our understanding of parents’ needs, concerns and the constraints of busy lives, we will develop and evaluate new ways of supporting parents by providing timely, accessible and effective resources and skills.

Enhancing Existing Services and Supports for Parents   We will work with organisations that play a role in parents’ lives to strengthen the relevance, timeliness and quality of the supports they provide to parents.

Creating Momentum for Change   We will use a range of strategies to disseminate to parents, media, community organisations, service providers and policy makers, evidence-based information about parents and parenting, in order to improve the provision of high quality and effective supports to parents.  

Recent publications

Rayner, M., Dimovski, A., Muscara, F., Yamada, J., Burke, K., McCarthy, M., Hearps, S.J.C., Anderson, V.A., Coe, A., Hayes, L., Walser, R., & Nicholson, J.M. Participating from the comfort of your living room: Feasibility of a group videoconferencing intervention to reduce distress in parents of children with a serious illness or injury.  Child and Family Behavior Therapy. Accepted 5 September 2015.

Jansen, E., Mallan, K.M., Byrne, R., Daniels, L.A., & Nicholson J.M. Breastfeeding duration and authoritative feeding practices in first-time mothers. Journal of Human Lactation. Accepted 2 November 2015.

Cook, F., Seymour, M., Giallo, R., Cann, W., Nicholson, J.M., Green, J.  & Hiscock, H. (2015). Comparison of methods for recruiting and engaging parents in online interventions: Study protocol for the Cry Baby infant sleep and settling program. BMC Pediatrics. 15:174. DOI: 10.1186/s12887-015-0502-9

Cooklin, A.R., Giallo, R., Strazdins, L., Martin, A., Leach, L., & Nicholson, J.M. (2015). What matters for working fathers? Job characteristics, work-family conflict and enrichment, and fathers’ postpartum mental health in an Australian cohort. Social Science and Medicine, 146, 214–222. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.09.028.

Williams, K.E., Berthelsen, D., Sue Walker, S. & Nicholson, J.M. A developmental cascade model of behavioral sleep problems, emotional and attentional self-regulation across early childhood. Behavioral Sleep Medicine. Accepted 15 June 2015.

Mulraney M, Schilpzand E.J., Hazell P, Nicholson J.M., Anderson V, Efron D, Silk T.J., Sciberras E. (2015). Comorbidity and correlates of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in 6-8 year old children with ADHD. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Online First: DOI 10.1007/s00787-015-0738-9 

Muscara, F., Burke, K., McCarthy, M.C., Anderson, V.A., Hearps, S.J.C., Hearps, S.J., Dimovski, A., Nicholson, J.M. (2015). Parent distress reactions following a serious illness or injury in their child: A protocol paper for The Take a Breath Cohort Study, BMC Psychiatry, 15:153. .

Clifford, S.A., Gold, L., Mensah, F.K., Jansen, P.W., Lucas, N., Nicholson, J.M., & Wake, M. (2015). Healthcare costs of underweight, overweight and obesity: Australian population-based study. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, First online: 8 June 2015 doi:10.1111/jpc.12932

De Jersey, S.J., Callaway, L.K., Daniels, L.A. & Nicholson, J.M. (2015). Weight related risk perception among healthy and overweight pregnant women: a cross sectional study. Journal of Perinatology. Advance online, 4 June 2015; doi:10.1038/jp.2015.57

Schilpzand, E.J., Sciberras, E., Efron, D., Anderson, V. & Nicholson, J.M. (2015). Improving survey response rates from parents in school-based research using a multi-level approach. PLoS ONE 10(5): e0126950. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0126950.

Daniels, L.A., Mallan, K.M., Nicholson, J.M., Thorpe, K., Nambiara, S., Mauch, C.E., & Magarey, A. (2015). An early feeding practices intervention for obesity prevention. Pediatrics. eFirst, 8 June 2015 doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-4108

Sciberras, E., Mulraney, M., Anderson, V., Rapee, R.M., Nicholson, J.M., Efron, D., Lee, K., Markopolous, Z., & Hiscock, H. (2015). Managing anxiety in children with ADHD using cognitive-behavioral therapy: A pilot randomized controlled trial. Journal of Attention Disorders Online first: DOI: 10.1177/1087054715584054

Westrupp, E.M., Strazdins, L., Martin, A., Cooklin, A.R., Zubrick, S.R. & Nicholson, J.M. (2015). Maternal work-family conflict and psychological distress: Reciprocal relationships over 8 years. Journal of Marriage and Family, Early Online. DOI 10.1111/jomf.12262.

Westrupp, E.M, Rose, N., Nicholson, J.M., & Brown S.J. (2015). Exposure to inter-parental conflict across 10 years of the early childhood period: Data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Maternal and Child Health Journal, 19(9), 1966-73.Online first. DOI 10.1007/s10995-015-1704-3.

Efron D, Sciberras E, Anderson V, Hazell P, Ukoumunne O, Jongeling B, Schilpzand EJ, Bisset M, Nicholson JM. (2014). Functional status in children with ADHD at age 6–8:  A controlled community study. Pediatrics, 134 (4), e992-e1000. Online September 29, 2014; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2014-1027.

Jansen, E., Daniels, L.A., Mallan, K.M., & Nicholson, J.M. (2014). The Feeding Practices and Structure Questionnaire: Construction and initial validation in a sample of Australian first-time mothers and their 2-year olds. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 11:72 doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-72.

Sciberras E, Westrupp EM, Wake M, Nicholson JM, Lucas N, Mensah F, Gold L, Reilly SR. (2014). Healthcare costs associated with language difficulties up to 9 years of age: Australian population-based study. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. Early Online: 1–12. DOI: 10.3109/17549507.2014.898095

Cooklin, A.R., Westrupp, E.M., Strazdins, L., Giallo, R., Martin, A., & Nicholson, J.M. (2015) Mothers’ work-family conflict and enrichment: Associations with parenting quality and couple relationship. Child: Care, Health & Development, 41(2), 266–277. doi:10.1111/cch.12137

Cooklin, A.R., Westrupp, E.M., Strazdins, L., Martin, A., Giallo, R., & Nicholson, J.M. (2014) Fathers at work: Work-family conflict, work-family enrichment and parenting in an Australian cohort. Journal of Family Issues. Online 27 October 2014. DOI: 10.1177/0192513X14553054.

Older publications

Peer-reviewed journal papers

Giallo, R., D’Esposito, F., Cooklin, A., Christensen, D., & Nicholson, J.M. (2014). Factors associated with trajectories of psychological distress for fathers across the early parenting period: A national Australian study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. DOI 10.1007/s00127-014-0834-z

Sciberras, E., Mueller, K., Efron, D., Bisset, M., Anderson, V., Schilpzand, E.J, Jongeling, B., & Nicholson, J.M. (2014) Language problems in children with ADHD: A community-based study. Pediatrics. 133;793. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-3355.

Reilly, S., Tomblin, B., Law, J., McKean, C., Mensah, F.K., Morgan, A., Goldfeld, S., Nicholson, J.M., & Wake, M. (2014). Specific Language Impairment: A convenient label for whom? International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, 49 (4) 416-451.

Giallo, R., Cooklin, A., & Nicholson, J.M. (2014) Risk factors associated with trajectories of mothers' depressive symptoms across the early parenting period: An Australian population based longitudinal study. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 17:115–125. DOI: 10.1007/s00737-014-0411-1

Mallan, K.M., Daniels, L.A., Wilson, J., Jansen, E., & Nicholson, J.M. (2014). Maternal depressive symptoms in the early postnatal period predict attenuated responsiveness in feeding at child age two years. Maternal and Child Nutrition. DOI: 10.1111/mcn.12116

Daniels, L.A., Mallan, K.M., Battistutta, D., Nicholson, J.M., Meedeniya, J.E., Bayer, J.K., & Magarey, A. (2014). Child eating behavior outcomes of an early feeding intervention to reduce risk indicators for child obesity: The NOURISH RCT. Obesity, 22, e104-e111. doi:10.1002/oby.20693.

Sim, S., Berthelsen, D., Walker, S., Nicholson, J.M. & Fielding-Barnsley, R. (2013). A shared reading intervention with parents to enhance young children's early literacy skills. Early Child Development and Care. DOI: 10.1080/03004430.2013.862532.

Mallan, K.M., Daniels, L.A., Thorpe, K., Nothard, M., Nicholson, J.M., Scuffham, P., Cameron, C., & Wilson, A. (2014). Dads at the dinner table: A cross-sectional study of Australian fathers' child feeding perceptions and practices. Appetite, 73, 40-44. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.10.006.

Jansen, P.W. Giallo, R., Westrupp, E.M., Wake, M., Nicholson, J.M. (2013). Bi-directional associations between mothers’ and fathers’ parenting consistency and child BMI from ages 4-10 years. Pediatrics, 132, e1513. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2013-1428

Jansen PW, Mensah FK, Nicholson JM, Wake M (2013) Family and neighbourhood socioeconomic inequalities in childhood trajectories of BMI and overweight: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. PLOS ONE 8(7): e69676. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069676

de Jersey, S., Nicholson, J.M., Callaway, L.K., & Daniels, L.A. (2013). An observational study of nutrition and physical activity behaviours, knowledge, and advice in pregnancy. BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, 13:115.

Jansen, P.W., Mensah, F.K., Clifford, S., Nicholson, J.M., Wake, M. (2013). Bi-directional associations between overweight and health-related quality of life from 4-11 years: Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. International Journal of Obesity, 37, 1307-1313.

Sciberras E, Lucas N, Efron D, Gold L, Hiscock H, Nicholson JM. Health care costs associated with parent-reported ADHD: A longitudinal Australian population-based study. Journal of Attention Disorders Published online 1 July 2013. DOI: 10.1177/1087054713491494.

Mallan, K.M., Nothard, M., Thorpe, K., Nicholson, J.M., Wilson, A., Scuffham, P.A. & Daniels, L.A. (2013). The role of fathers in child feeding: Perceived responsibility and barriers to participation in family meal times. Child: Care Health and Development. doi: 10.1111/cch.12088.

Lucas, N., Bayer, J.K., Gold, L., Mensah, F.K., Canterford, L., Wake, M., Westrupp, E.M., & Nicholson, J.M. (2013). The cost of healthcare for children with mental health difficulties. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 47(9), 849-858. DOI: 10.1177/0004867413491152

Quach J, Gold L, Hiscock H, Mensah FK, Lucas N, Nicholson JM, Wake M.  (2013) Primary healthcare costs associated with sleep problems up to age 7 years: Australian population-based study.  BMJ Open, 2013 3, 5 e002419.

Daniels, L.A., Mallan, K.M., Nicholson, J.M., Battistutta, D., & Magarey, A. (2013). Outcomes of an early feeding practices intervention to prevent childhood obesity. Pediatrics. 132:1 e109-e118.

Cooklin, A.R., Giallo, R., D’Esposito, F., Crawford, S., & Nicholson, JM. (2013). Maternal separation anxiety, over-protective parenting and children’s social-emotional well-being: Evidence from an Australian cohort. Journal of Family Psychology, 27 (4), 618-628.

Walsh, K., Berthelsen, D., Nicholson, J.M., Brandon, L., Stevens, J., & Rachele, J. (2013) Child sexual abuse prevention education: A review of school policy and curriculum provision in Australia. Oxford Review of Education, 39(5), 649-680. DOI: 10.1080/03054985.2013.843446.

Renzaho, A., Houng, B., Oldroyd, J., Nicholson, J.M., D’Esposito, F., Oldenburg, B. (2013) Stressful life events and the onset of chronic diseases among Australian adults: Findings from a longitudinal survey. European Journal of Public Health. Online: February 8, 2013; DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckt007

Nicholson, J.M., Lucas, N., & Erbas, B. (2013) Strengthening the social environment for Australian children: A reply to Parkinson. Journal of Family Studies 19(3): 272–275. Lucas, N, Erbas, B., & Nicholson, J.M. (2013). Child mental health after parental separation: the impact of resident/non-resident parenting, parent mental health, conflict and socioeconomics. Journal of Family Studies, 19(1): 53–69.

Sciberras E, Efron D, Schilpzand EJ, Anderson, V, Jongeling B, Hazell P, Ukoumunne OC, Nicholson JM. (2013) The Children’s Attention Project: A community-based longitudinal study of children with ADHD and non-ADHD controls. BMC Psychiatry, 13, 18.

McMeekin, S., Jansen, E., Mallan, K., Nicholson, J., Margarey, A., & Daniels, L. (2013). Associations between infant temperament and early feeding practices. A cross-sectional study of Australian mother-infant dyads from the NOURISH randomised controlled trial. Appetite, 60, 239-245.

Westrupp, E.M., Lucas, N., Mensah, F.K., Gold, L., Wake, M. & Nicholson, J.M.  Community-based health care costs for children born low birth weight, preterm and/or small for gestational age: Data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Child: Care, Health and Development. Online: 5 March 2013; DOI: 10.1111/cch.12040. 

Jansen, P.W., Mensah, F.K., Clifford, S., Tiemeier, H., Nicholson, J.M., & Wake, M. (2013). A prospective population-based study of how mental health problems and overweight develop between ages 4 and 11 years. Academic Pediatrics. 13 (2), 159-167.

Giallo, R., Cooklin, A., Wade, C., D'Esposito, F., Nicholson, J.M. (2013). Maternal postnatal mental health and later emotional-behavioural development of children: The mediating role of parenting behaviour. Child: Care, Health & Development. Online: 30 January 2013; DOI: 10.1111/cch.12028

Nicholson, J.M., Strazdins, L., Brown, J.E. & Bittman, M. (2012). How parents’ income, time and job quality affect children’s health and development. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 47(4), 505-525.

De Jersey, S., Nicholson, J.M., Calloway, L., & Daniels, L. (2012). A prospective study of pregnancy weight gain in Australian women. ANZ J Obstetrics & Gynaecology. 52 (6), 545-551

Daniels, L.A., Wilson, J.L., Mallan, K.M., Perry, R., Mihrshahi, S., Nicholson, J.M., Magarey, A. (2012). Recruiting and engaging new mothers in nutrition research studies: lessons from the Australian NOURISH randomised controlled trial. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 9, 129. doi:10.1186/1479-5868-9-129

Giallo, R., D’Esposito, F., Cooklin, A., Mensah, F., Lucas, N., Wade, C. & Nicholson, J.M. (2013). Psychosocial risk factors associated with fathers' mental health in the postnatal period: Results from a population-based study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 48 (4), 563-573

Cooklin, A.R., Lucas, N., Strazdins, L., Westrupp, E., Giallo, R., Canterford, L., & Nicholson, J.M. (2013). Heightened maternal separation anxiety in the postpartum: The role of socio-economic disadvantage. Journal of Family Issues. First online, published on 31 March 2013, doi: 10.1177/0192513x13481776

Daniels, L.A., Mallan, K.M., Battistutta, D., Nicholson, J.M., Perry, R., & Magarey, A. (2013). Evaluation of an intervention to promote protective infant feeding practices to prevent childhood obesity: outcomes of the NOURISH RCT at 14 months of age and 6 months post the first of two intervention modules. International Journal of Obesity. 36, 1292-1298

Whitehouse, G., Romaniuk, H., Lucas, N. & Nicholson, J.M. (2013). Leave duration after childbirth: Impacts on maternal mental health, parenting and couple relationships in Australian two-parent families. Journal of Family Issues, 34, 1356-1378. doi: 10.1177/0192513X12459014.  [

Walker, S., Nicholson, J.M., Carrington, S., Dunbar, S., Hand, K., Whiteford, C., Meldrum, K. & Berthelsen, D. (2012). The transition to school of children with developmental disabilities: Views of parents and teachers. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37(3), 22-29.

Giallo, R., Cooklin, A., Wade, C., D’Esposito, F., & Nicholson, J.M. (2014). Fathers' postnatal mental health and child wellbeing at aged five: The mediating role of parenting behaviour. Journal of Family Issues, 35 (11), 1543-1562. doi: 10.1177/0192513x13477411

Giallo, R., D’Esposito, F., Christensen, D., Mensah, F., Cooklin, A., Wade, C. Lucas, N., Canterford, L. & Nicholson, J.M. (2012). Father mental health during the early parenting period: Results of an Australian population based longitudinal study. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 47 (12), 1907-1916

Jansen, E., Daniels, L. & Nicholson, J.M. (2012). The dynamics of parenting and early feeding - constructs and controversies: a viewpoint. Early Child Development and Care, 182 (8), 967-981.

Westrupp, E.M., Mensah, F.K., Giallo, R., Cooklin, A., & Nicholson, J.M. (2012) Mental health in ‘low-to-moderate risk’ preterm, low birth weight and small for gestational age children at 4-5 years: The role of early maternal parenting. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 51(3), 313-323.

Hancock, K.J., Lawrence, D., Mitrou, F., Zarb, D., Berthelsen, D., Nicholson, J.M. & Zubrick, S.R. (2012). The association between playgroup participation, learning competency and social-emotional wellbeing for children aged 4-5 years in Australia. Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 37 (2), 72-81.

Williams, K.E., Berthelsen, D., Nicholson, J.M., Walker, S., & Abad, V. (2012). The effectiveness of a short-term group music therapy intervention for parents who have a child with a disability. Journal of Music Therapy, 49 (1), 23-44.

Kilpatrick, N.L., Neumann, A., Lucas, N., Chapman, J. & Nicholson, J.M. (2012). Oral health inequalities in a national sample of Australian children aged 2-3 and 6-7 years. Australian Dental Journal, 57, 38–44.

Sims, M., Davis, E., Davies, B., Nicholson, J., Harrison, L., Herrman, H., Waters, E., Marshall, B., Cook, K., & Priest, N. (2012). Mental health promotion in childcare centres: Childcare educators’ understanding of child and parental mental health. Advances in Mental Health, 10(2), 138-148.

Nicholson, J.M., Lucas, N., Berthelsen, D., & Wake, M. (2012). Socioeconomic inequality profiles in physical and developmental health from 0-7 years: Australian national study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66(1), 81-87. First on-line, published on October 19, 2010 as 10.1136/jech.2009.103291

Feeney, R., Desha, L.N., Ziviani, J.M. & Nicholson, J.M. (2012). Health-related quality-of-life of children with speech and language difficulties: A review of the literature. International Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 14(1), 59-72.

Bayer, J.K., Ukoumunne, O.C., Lucas, N., Wake, M., Scalzo, K., & Nicholson, J.M. (2011). Risk factors for childhood mental health symptoms: National longitudinal study of Australian children. Pediatrics, 128(4), e865-e879.  Published online 6 Sept 2011 doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-0491

Turner, K.M.T., Nicholson, J.M. & Sanders, M.R. (2011). The role of practitioner self-efficacy, training, program and workplace factors on the implementation of an evidence-based parenting intervention in primary care. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 32 (2), 95-112. DOI 10.1007/s10935-011-0240-1

Cooklin, A.R., Canterford, L., Strazdins, L., & Nicholson, J.M. (2011) Employment conditions and maternal postpartum mental health: Results from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 14 (3), 217-225.

Brown, J.E., Nicholson, J.M., Broom, D.H. & Bittman, M. (2011). Television viewing by school-age children: Associations with physical activity, snack food consumption and unhealthy weight. Social Indicators Research, 101(2), 221-225 DOI: 10.1007/s11205-010-9656

Nicholson, J.M., Berthelsen, D., Williams, K. & Abad, V. (2010). National study of an early parenting intervention: Implementation differences on parent and child outcomes. Prevention Science, 11, 360–370.

Brown, J.E., Broom, D.H., Nicholson, J.M., & Bittman, M. (2010). Do working mothers raise couch potato kids? Maternal employment and children’s lifestyle behaviours and weight in early childhood. Social Science and Medicine, 70(12), 1816-1824.

Nicholson, J.M., Berthelsen, D., Abad, V., Williams, K. & Bradley, J. (2008). Impact of music therapy to promote positive parenting and child development. Journal of Health Psychology, 13 (2), 226-238.

Wake, M., Nicholson, J.M., Hardy, P., Smith, K. (2007). Preschooler obesity and parenting styles of mothers and fathers: Australian national population study. Pediatrics, 120 (6), e1520-e1527.

Dwyer, S.B., Nicholson, J.M., & Battistutta, D. (2006). Parent and teacher identification of children at risk of developing internalising or externalising mental health problems: A comparison of two screening methods. Prevention Science, 7(4), 343-357.

Nicholson, J.M. & Rempel, L.A. (2004). Australian and New Zealand birth cohort studies: Breadth, quality and contributions. Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health, 40, 87-95.

Dwyer, S.B., Nicholson, J.M. & Battistutta, D. (2003). Population level assessment of the family risk factors related to the onset or persistence of children’s mental health problems. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 44(5), 699-711.

Nicholson, J.M., Sanson, A., and the LSAC Research Consortium (2003). A new longitudinal study of the health and wellbeing of Australian children: How will it help?  (commentary) Medical Journal of Australia, 178 (6), 282-284.

Nicholson, J.M., Fergusson, D.M., & Horwood, L.J. (1999). Effects on later adjustment of living in a stepfamily during childhood and adolescence. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 40(3), 405-416.

Nicholson, J.M. & Sanders, M.R. (1999). Randomized controlled trial of behavioral family intervention for the treatment of child behavior problems in stepfamilies. Journal of Divorce and Remarriage, 30 (3/4), 1-23.

Lawton, J.M.,* & Sanders, M.R. (1994). Designing effective behavioral family interventions for stepfamilies. Clinical Psychology Review, 14, 463-496.

Research Monographs and Book Chapters:

Zubrick, S.R., Lucas, N., Westrupp, E. M., & Nicholson, J. M. (2014). Parenting measures in the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children: Construct validity and measurement quality, Waves 1 to 4. (LSAC Technical Paper No. 12). Canberra: Department of Social Services (formerly the Department of Families, Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs): Canberra, ACT.

Hackworth, N., Nicholson, J.M., Matthews, J., Berthelsen, D., Cann, W., Westrupp, E.M., Ukoumunne, O.C., Yu, M., Bennetto, J., Bennetts, S., Hamilton, V., Johnson, N., Phan, T., Scicluna, A., Trajanovska M. (2013). Early Home Learning Study: Overview and outcomes. Final Report to the Victorian Government Department of Education and Early Child Development.

Nicholson, J.M., D’Esposito, F., Lucas, N. & Westrupp, E. (2014). Raising children in single parent families. In A. Abela & J. Walker (Eds.), Contemporary Issues in Family Studies: Global Perspectives on Partnerships, Parenting and Support in a Changing World: First Edition, Chapter 12, pp. 166-188. Wiley Blackwell: Chichester, UK.

Zubrick, S.R., Smith, G.J., Nicholson, J.M., Sanson, A.V., Jackiewicz, T & the LSAC Research Consortium (2008). Parenting and families in Australia. Social Policy Research Paper, No. 34. Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs: Canberra, ACT.

Walsh, K., Goebbels, A.F.G., & Nicholson, J.M. (2012). Teachers’ detecting and reporting child abuse and neglect: Research into the determinants of complex professional behavior (Chapter 13). In J. O’Dea (Ed) Current Issues and Controversies in School and Community Health, Sport and Physical Education. New York: Nova Science Publishers.

Lucas, N., Maguire, B. & Nicholson, J.M. (2010). Parenting practices and behaviours, pp. 43-56. In Longitudinal Study of Australian Children Statistical Report, 2010. Australian Institute of Family Studies: Melbourne VIC.

Williams, K.E., Nicholson, J.M., Abad, V., Docherty, L. & Berthelsen, D. (2011). Evaluating parent-child group music therapy programmes: Challenges & successes (Chapter 5), pp.72-91. In J. Edwards (Ed). Music Therapy and Parent-Infant Bonding. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Whitton, S.W., Nicholson, J.M., & Markman, H.J. (2008). Research on interventions for stepfamily couples: The state of the field (pp. 445-484). In J. Pryor (Ed). The International Handbook of Stepfamilies: Policy and Practice in Legal, Research and Clinical Environments. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

Nicholson, J.M., Sanders, M.R., Halford, W.K., Phillips, M., & Whitton, S.W. (2008). Prevention and treatment of children’s adjustment problems in stepfamilies. (pp.485-521). In J. Pryor (Ed). The International Handbook of Stepfamilies: Policy and Practice in Legal, Research and Clinical Environments. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley.

Research projects


Jan Nicholson, Amanda Cooklin, Sharinne Crawford, Shannon Bennetts, Naomi Hackworth; in collaboration with Julie Green, Jan Matthews, Fabrizio D’Esposito, Parenting Research Centre; Stephen Zubrick, University of Western Australia; Lyndall Strazdins, the Australian National University; Guy Parcel, University of Texas.

La Trobe University and the Parenting Research Centre received funding from the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) to investigate barriers that limit children's independent mobility and physical activity, including parental fear. Commencing in 2012, quantitative and qualitative data are being collected from parents, children and key members of the broader Victorian community, to identify the drivers of parental fear and develop strategies and recommendations for promoting the independent mobility of Victorian primary and secondary school-aged children. In 2014, preliminary findings were released in association with VicHealth’s Walk to School campaign, gaining considerable media attention across print, radio and television. Findings were summarised in The Conversation, and the project was selected as a Finalist in the 2014 Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Awards. The project is due for completion in 2015. FUNDING: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth)


Jan Nicholson, Elizabeth Westrupp, Naomi Hackworth; in collaboration with Sheena Reilly, Fiona Mensah, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute; Donna Berthelsen, Queensland University of Technology; Lisa Gold, Deakin University.

This project is a school-age follow-up of the large randomised controlled trial the Early Home Learning Study (EHLS). EHLS aimed to identify the best way to support parents experiencing difficult social circumstances to create a rich home learning environment for their young children. This three-year study was conducted at the Parenting Research Centre, in partnership with and funded by the Victorian Department of Early Education and Childhood Development (now the Department of Education and Training). More than 2000 Victorian parents of child aged from birth to three years were involved in the randomised controlled trial of the parenting support program.

In May 2014, funding was awarded to track these children into their school years to determine whether the effects of this early childhood intervention resulted in sustained improvements in later childhood and improved academic, behavioural and family outcomes. Since this time, the investigator team has been negotiating institutional agreements, refining the study design and measures, applying for ethical approval, and preparing key papers for submission from the original study. FUNDING: NHMRC Partnership Grant (1076857; 2014 – 2019)  


Lyndall Strazdins, Huong Dinh, Liana Leach, Australian National University in collaboration with Amanda Cooklin, Jan Nicholson, Elizabeth Westrupp, Cattram Nguyen; Angela Martin, University of Tasmania; Rebecca Giallo, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute.

This program of research aims to build evidence to support workplaces and parents to promote parents’ mental health and reduce work-family conflict.  This study uses national, longitudinal (2004-present) cohort data from over 5,000 employed parents and their children to identify practical ways in which workplaces can prevent the adverse effects of poor quality jobs and high work-family conflict on parents and children. Recent analyses have found that for fathers in the first year of parenthood, poor job conditions (job insecurity, long hours, inflexible work schedules) and high work-family conflict were key factors contributing to psychological distress. FUNDING: Australian Rotary Health Research Project Grant (2014 – 2015); Transition to Contemporary Parenthood Program funding.


In collaboration with Emma Sciberras, Daryl Efron, Vicki Anderson, Tim Silk, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital and the University of Melbourne; Phillip Hazel, University of Sydney; Obi Ukuommune, University of Exeter, UK; Brad Jongeling, Joondalup Child Development Centre, Perth.

The Children’s Attention Project is a longitudinal study of a community sample of children with and without ADHD, examining the long-term effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on children's behaviour, learning and day-to-day living.  It includes an assessment of the influence of parenting and parent wellbeing on outcomes for these children. Children have been tracked from ages 6-8 to 10-11 years, with a subgroup currently participating in a nested neuroimaging study. FUNDING: NHMRC Project Grants (1065895, 2014-2018; 1008522, 2011-2015).


In collaboration with Kate Williams, Donna Berthelsen, Queensland University of Technology.

Supported playgroups are an important family policy strategy to support families with young children and funded through national, state, and local governments. This evaluation aims to establish evidence for the efficacy of supported playgroups in relation to child development and the wellbeing, capacity and social connectedness of parents. Mixed methods will be used including a systematic literature review, analysis of existing population datasets, collection of data from current playgroups and in-depth case studies. FUNDING: Department of Education, Training and Employment Queensland (DETE 2014-2017).


Jan Nicholson, Amanda Cooklin, Elizabeth Westrupp, Cattram Nguyen; in collaboration with a range of researchers nationally including Lyndall Strazdins, Nina Lucas, Australian National University; Rebecca Giallo, Emma Sciberras, Melissa Wake, Fiona Mensah , Murdoch Childrens Research Institute; Donna Berthelsen, Sue Walker, Kate Williams, Queensland University of Technology; Steven Zubrick, University of Western Australia.

The Longitudinal Study of Australian Children is Australia’s first national study to track the health and wellbeing of a diverse sample of Australian children. Commencing in 2004, 5,000 infants and 5,000 4-year olds from around the country, have been comprehensively assessed every two years. Since its inception, Jan Nicholson has led the design team developing and selecting the study’s measures of parenting and family functioning. She has established a program of research linking early career and established researchers to use LSAC data to address important research questions. This has resulted in over 40 scientific publications on a diverse range of topics including the impact of parenting and family circumstances on child physical health and wellbeing, the  development and the determinants, patterning and impact of parental mental health difficulties across the first 10 years of being a parent and the healthcare costs of common childhood disorders, FUNDING: Department of Social Services (formerly Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs). Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (ongoing since 2002).


In collaboration with Lynne Daniels, Kimberley Mallan, Karen Thorpe, Elena Jansen, Diana Battistutta, Queensland University of Technology; Anthea Magarey, Flinders University; Jordana Bayer La Trobe University.

Led by Lynne Daniels, this project examined the impact of an intervention delivered in infancy and toddlerhood on maternal feeding practices and  child weight. Jan Nicholson contribution to the parenting content of the intervention and the measures used to assess parenting and maternal wellbeing. Results up to age 3 years show a strong impact on maternal feeding, with positive trends on child anthropometrics. Final outcomes at age 5 years have been submitted for publication. FUNDING: NHMRC Project Grants (1021065, 2012-2014; 426704, 2007-2011) 


Jan Nicholson, Leesa Hooker, Angela Taft; in collaboration with Rae Kaspiew, Lixia Qu, Ruth Weston, Australian Institute of Family Studies; Cathy Humphries, University of Melbourne; Fiona Buchanan, University of South Australia.

This mixed method, multi-disciplinary research, led by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, examines the impact of family violence on parenting. Components include a review of current knowledge on the impact of family violence on mothers, fathers and children, analyses of existing population and specialist cohorts to assess the impact of family violence on the parenting capacity of men and women, and in-depth interviews to gain insight of the experiences and service needs of affected families. FUNDING: Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS, 2015-2016).

TAKE A BREATH’: VIDEOCONFERENCING GROUP INTERVENTION FOR PARENTS OF CHILDREN WITH LIFE-THREATENING ILLNESS AND INJURY. In collaboration with Vicki Anderson, Frank Muscara, Meredith Rayner, Maria McCarthy, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Royal Children’s Hospital; Kylie Burke, University of Queensland; Robyn Walser, University of California, Berkeley.

Parents of a child diagnosed with a life threatening illness or injury often experience debilitating stress and anxiety. When this persists it is associated with a range of difficulties for both parent and child. The Take A Breath program seeks to prevent or reduce traumatic symptoms in these parents. Using a videoconferencing format, parents take part in a brief group intervention, from the comfort of their home. FUNDING: Royal Children’s Hospital Foundation.


In collaboration with Stephanie Brown, Kelsey Hegarty, Deirdre Gartland, Hannah Woolhouse, Rebecca Giallo, Fiona Mensah, Harriet Hiscock, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and University of Melbourne.

Led by Stephanie Brown, the Maternal Health Study is a multi-wave, prospective cohort study investigating the health and well-being of over 1500 first-time mothers recruited from six Melbourne hospitals between 2003-2005. Jan Nicholson provides advice around measures and data collection methods for the 10-year follow-up which involves greater focus on parenting and child outcomes. FUNDING: NHMRC Project Grant (APP1048829, 2013-2017)


In collaboration with Susan Moreton, Polly Awatere-Carr, University of Auckland; Jan Pryor, Victoria University of Wellington.

Growing Up in New Zealand is New Zealand's contemporary longitudinal study tracking the development of approximately 7,000 children from before birth until they are young adults. It seeks to provide unique information about what shapes children’s early development and how interventions might be targeted to give every child the best start in life. Jan Nicholson is a member of the study’s External Scientific Advisory Group, advises on the selection of parenting members, and is co-investigator on the fathers’ study collecting data at age 5 years. FUNDING: New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Science Investment Grant 2013-2016