Research in Nursing, Midwifery and Social Sciences

CQUniversity Nursing research has been ranked at 'well above world standard' in the latest Excellence for Research in Australia exercise. This is a significant achievement for a regional university and with ongoing recruitment and promotion of research active staff, the School aspires to become one of the best research schools in Australia. The School of Nursing and Midwifery research activities involve researchers from a range of disciplines creating a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary approach. The research areas have a strong focus on applied research with direct benefit to regional and rural Australia but of national and international significance.

CQUniversity Nursing research aligns under four primary research priority areas:

  • Quality and Safety in Healthcare
  • Health Workforce
  • Safe Communities
  • Psychosocial Wellbeing

Each priority area is overseen by a lead, whose main objective is to work with the school’s research leadership team to plan and discuss the strategies required to develop programs of research around each priority area and then oversee the implementation of same.  Priority area leads will provide leadership for the cluster leads within their priority area and will be instrumental in ensuring all research conducted within our school aligns with our articulated priority areas. This is important if we are to maximise the benefits of our research to our communities and to ensure that our school’s Fields of Education (FoE) are well represented by the Fields of Research (FoR) our staff participate in.

There are research clusters that sit within each priority area. These clusters represent an identified group of projects that align to a particular topic or field of interest and whose project members knowingly or unknowingly work together towards achieving common objectives. The purpose of the School of Nursing Midwifery and Social Science’s research clusters is to push the boundaries of knowledge on topics across a diverse spectrum and to epitomize the interdisciplinary community that exists within our school. Identified research clusters offer the platform for members working in related areas of research, often from different disciplines, to collaborate, debate issues, and discuss mutual interests. Members meet regularly to discuss funding opportunities and industry collaborations, workshop new research directions, invite speakers, and plan collaborations. Each cluster has a lead, or co-leads, who encourage (and support) cluster members to organize events, ranging from small discussion groups up to national or international conferences, and all members, regardless of their career stage, are welcome to be involved. Researchers whose work aligns with a cluster are encouraged to join forces with likeminded investigators and form fruitful collaborations for grant applications, publication writing and potential RHD supervision projects and panels.

Our school acknowledges that collaboration, innovation, and interdisciplinarity are the catchphrases for continued success in terms of research growth and stability and these comprise the headings under which our research clusters will debate and develop our school’s priority areas moving forward. Collective endeavour will prove key to our sustained research activity and outputs, so projects that involve teamwork are essential, alongside individual research trajectories.

Priority lead Associate Professor Tracy Flenady

This priority area comprises research focused on keeping patients safe from preventable harm via improving the quality and safety of healthcare. Perpetual quality improvement and innovation in practice, along with clinicians’ increased capacity to provide quality healthcare, are instrumental factors when advancing the quality and safety of patient care at the health system and service level. Research in this priority area encompasses a broad range of healthcare foci and predominantly concentrates on applied research that adopts a multi-disciplinary approach when conducting research, acknowledging the strengths of different disciplinary and methodological backgrounds. In line with the World Health Organization’s statement that effective quality and safety improvement is the result of many activities using systematic methods over a period of time, work conducted within this priority includes all aspects of research concerning the review, monitoring, evaluation and communication methods utilised in health systems. Studies investigating the perspectives of health systems, health care providers, service users, and caregivers are also included. Research conducted within this priority area strives to create knowledge that provides solutions to real-world healthcare problems, therefore contributing positive impact for those people who live and work within our communities.


  • Patient Safety and Consumer Experience (Co-Leads – Stephen Yu and Professor Eileen Willis)
  • Clinicians’ capacity building (Lead – Dr Lisa Wirihana)
  • Maternal and Family Health (Lead – Dr Tanya Capper)

Priority lead Associate Professor Pauline Calleja

Australia’s health workforce is tasked with the significant function of providing effective, safe, quality care that improves the health and well-being of our country’s diverse communities. The value of research that contributes to the development of a sustainable health workforce is increasingly recognised. Recent, current or proposed research conducted by our school that can be found within this priority area acknowledges the importance of developing frameworks that align health systems/governance and health workforce policy/planning and explores the effects of changing skill mixes and competencies across sectors and multidisciplinary groups. Health Workforce research priority areas encompasses all aspects of workforce including, but not limited to, occupational health and safety for health workers, preparation and transition to practice, continuing education and evidence-based clinical and managerial models of care. Research found within this priority area contributes to the development of a future health workforce that is responsive to diverse population needs and considerate of demographic and economic change.


  • Clinical workforce (Co-Leads – Dr Ashlyn Sahay and Professor Amanda Henderson)
  • Models of care (Lead – Dr Adele Baldwin)
  • Preparation for & Transition to, practice (Lead – Amy-Louise Byrne)

Priority lead Dr Heather Lovatt

The Safe Communities priority area consists of research conducted to inform future initiatives designed to promote safety and prevent violence and abuse of, and to, all members of our communities. Most research conducted in this space is driven from the for Centre Domestic and Family Violence Research, which  (CDFVR) sits within the School of Nursing Midwifery and Social Sciences and is based in Mackay. The centre contributes to the prevention of domestic and family violence by informing, promoting and supporting the actions of individuals, communities, services and governments through state-wide leadership in research, professional development, education and community engagement. The Centre's research function is to initiate, undertake and collaborate on innovative and interdisciplinary research and publications to reduce deficits in domestic and family violence knowledge and literature. CDFVR is also committed to undertaking applied research that supports the development of policy and practice in the field of domestic and family violence prevention with a particular, though not exclusive, focus on issues for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and rural and regional communities.  The World Health Organization (WHO) Manifesto for Safe Communities states that "All human beings have an equal right to health and safety". Research within this priority area complements a growing world-wide movement known as trauma informed practice, which acknowledges that trauma from neglect, violence and abuse is common in society and can lead to physical and mental health problems and psychosocial disability and disempowerment. Trauma can occur across the lifespan – and may be associated with child mistreatment, sexual violence, bullying, violent crime, marginalization, war and displacement. Research in this area is aiming to find structural solutions to prevent and resolve the consequences of trauma on individuals and communities.


  • Gendered Violence (Lead – Dr Liane McDermott)
  • Violence, Abuse & Neglect (Lead – Emily Hurren Paterson)

Professor Michelle Cleary

Wellbeing is not only the absence of illness or disease, but a complex combination of mental, emotional, physical, and social health factors. This research priority area is concerned with psychosocial wellbeing and comprises research that acknowledges the cultural, social, environmental, economic and political factors that impact the wellbeing of individuals, families and communities. Work conducted within this priority reflects the World Health Organization’s 2020 global policy for health and wellbeing by acknowledging the importance of people-centred health systems and creating supportive environments and resilient communities. Topics regarding the wellbeing of diverse, minority and marginalised populations are located within this priority area.


  • Aged Care  (Lead - Jennifer Mulvogue)
  • Individuals, families, and communities (Co-leads – Katrina Lane-Krebs & Dr Colleen Johnston-Devin)
  • Mental health nursing (Lead – Associate Professor Julie Bradshaw)
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