Research in the School of Nursing and Midwifery

The School of Nursing and Midwifery is recognised nationally and internationally for its research.

We are constantly rated at well above world average in Excellence in Research for Australia. We deliver high-quality research training, skills development and research support to local health professionals, supervisors, students and external stakeholders.

Our research aligns with La Trobe’s Healthy people, families and communities research theme.

Research areas

Our strong team of researchers are working to improve health and wellbeing across communities and the lifespan.

Our research is grouped into five key areas:

Area lead: Dr Gulzar Malik

The nursing and midwifery workforces continue to evolve within the broader healthcare context. Associated with this, these professions face a variety of contemporary challenges including changing societal expectations, pandemics, workforce shortages, evidence-based practice and workforce violence.

Our team is developing research that seeks to address issues of relevance to contemporary nursing and midwifery professions, guided by key underpinning research questions:

  • How do we prepare for future nursing and midwifery workforce shortages?
  • What does contemporary nursing and midwifery practice look like?
  • What current and future challenges face the nursing and midwifery workforces and how are these best addressed?
  • What constitutes professionalisation in nursing and midwifery?
  • How do the nursing and midwifery professions adapt to contemporary societal change?
  • How do we support transition for new graduate nurses and midwives?

Area lead: Associate Professor Bev Copnell

Children’s health is inextricably linked to the wellbeing of the family unit. Health challenges, from pregnancy through to adolescence, can influence the integrity of the family.

Our team researches issues of local relevance and global significance to the physical, psychological and emotional health of mothers, infants and children, and of the family more broadly. We are guided by the following key research questions:

  • How do we support children and families who are accessing health care in a variety of contexts?
  • What are the contemporary challenges to child health and how can these be addressed?
  • How do we support mothers and fathers in their transitions to parenthood?
  • How do we optimise pregnancy outcomes for women with specific risk factors?
  • How can gender equality be promoted in maternal and child healthcare contexts?
  • How is family-centred care delivered for children and their families?

Area lead: Professor David Edvardsson

Demographic changes such as the ageing of the population, migration patterns, socioeconomic differences, occupation, education, ethnicity and lifestyles all present a multitude of challenges for health promotion, incidence, prevalence and burden of disease, management of chronic illnesses as well as care and support for older adults.

Our team focuses on nursing and related health research on contemporary health problems of local relevance and global significance for older adults and people with chronic illnesses, as well as for providers and consumers of healthcare, social care and support more broadly:

  • What are the predictors of health, quality of life and thriving for older adults and people with chronic illnesses in various settings?
  • What characterises health-promoting care of older adults and people with chronic illness across settings?
  • What nursing interventions are most effective/meaningful to support health and quality of life for older adults and people with chronic illness in various settings?
  • How do we address contemporary challenges to residential aged care in areas such as leadership, staffing patterns, health promotion, infection control and management, meaningful occupation, social/health care interventions?
  • How can the nursing role be clarified and strengthened in residential and community care? How does nurse-resident ratios impact mortality and morbidity? How can provision of health and social care be balanced in clinical settings?
  • What are the local challenges related to ageing and chronic illness at an individual, community, society and population level?

Area lead: Professor Richard Gray

Mental disorders represent the greatest health burden to Australia—not only for directly affected individuals, but also for their caregivers and the wider society. They incur substantial economic costs through direct (and indirect) healthcare and welfare spending, and via productivity losses, all of which significantly affect Australian development.

Our team focuses on mental health broadly, as well as being guided by key research questions:

  • How do we support mental disorder prevention, mental health promotion, and interventions in young people?
  • How can new scientific and technological advances lead to better mental health interventions?
  • How can stigma around mental health be reduced and consumers and carers empowered?
  • How do we address quality of care, and take into account sociocultural and socioeconomic contexts and approaches, in mental health?

Area lead: Associate Professor Karen Lawrence

There is an ever-increasing need for the development and delivery of innovative nursing and midwifery education to ensure safe competent practice that is underpinned by evidence – based knowledge and skill.

Our team develops research that seeks to address issues in contemporary nursing and midwifery education, guided by key underpinning questions:

  • How do we address contemporary challenges associated with nursing and midwifery education and practice?
  • How do we develop and deliver nursing and midwifery learning and teaching in both university and/or practice settings?
  • How do we prepare students for future nursing and midwifery workplaces?
  • How do we develop and deliver innovative web-based resources during a major global challenge?

Research centres

The School of Nursing and Midwifery is also home to two highly regarded research centres. The Judith Lumley Centre and the Australian Institute of Primary Care and Ageing play a strong role in our research success and impact.

Through research, consultancy and educational activities, the Australian Institute for Primary Care and Ageing promotes quality improvement and consumer driven, evidence-based practice in all areas of primary health, community health and aged care. Our goal is to make a significant, positive and enduring impact on the way health, community and aged care is delivered and accessed.

Find out more about the Institute.

The Judith Lumley Centre conducts interdisciplinary, applied research to improve the health and wellbeing of women, children and families. The Centre leads research in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander family health; breastfeeding; child, family and community health; mother and infant health and maternity services; reproductive health and planned parenthood; preventing and reducing violence against women and children; transition to contemporary parenthood - preparation and support; and work and family.

Find out more about the Centre.

Academic and Research Collaborative in Health

Several of our academic staff are also members of La Trobe’s Academic and Research Collaborative in Health, which brings together academics, clinicians, consumers, healthcare professionals, health and social care agencies and policy makers skilled in the translation of interdisciplinary research.

The Academic and Research Collaborative in Health aims to improve the patient experience, patient outcomes, healthcare quality and safety, and to achieve best practice in service provision. Partners include Alfred Health, Austin Health, Eastern Health, Healthscope, Mercy Health, Northern Health, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Women’s.

Find out more about the Collaborative.