About us

About the Health Impact Research Centre

HIRC brings together researchers from a wide range of disciplines to address the complex problems that impinge on the health of communities. The leadership of HIRC will bring together established groupings including the capacity of the clinical trials of the Smart Food Centre, the interdisciplinary lifestyle intervention capacity of the HealthTrack project and the clinical epidemiology and practice-based research capacity of the SIMLR Cohort Study and the Illawarra and Southern Practice Research Network (ISPRN). ISPRN is an extensive network of over 40 general practices and UOW academics with a highly active research program, researcher development and strong primary health sector support.

The SIMLR Cohort Study is a longitudinal geographically enabled observational study of health risks in over 360,000 Illawarra and Shoalhaven residents, undertaken in collaboration with Southern.IML Pathology and the Illawarra and Shoalhaven Local Health District Public Health Unit.


The vision of the Health Impacts Research Centre (HIRC) is to undertake research that impacts on the health of whole communities.  We will inform health promotion messaging, clinical practice and policy related to chronic condition.

HIRC creates synergies between health researchers from the SMAH Faculty. Our values are innovation, collaboration, inclusiveness, integrity and accountability.

In 2017 HIRC members produced a collaborative research document following a planning retreat, to drive future developments, as outlined in the summary report https://documents.uow.edu.au/content/groups/public/@web/@smah/documents/doc/uow244304.pdf.


The mission of HIRC is to undertake inter-disciplinary research to better understand the client/ patient and community experiences related to living with chronic conditions and inform innovative approaches to the prevention and management of health conditions, particularly to local communities. Underpinning the mission is a strong focus on capacity development of researchers.

HIRC’s mission is to better understand experiences related to living with illness and disease through innovative research and evidence based practice. 


HIRC acknowledges a life course approach to health conditions and undertakes research across all ages. There is a need for innovative approaches to support individuals and communities living with health conditions, including effective implementation of health resources in order to provide best outcomes for communities.


HIRC members undertake collaborative research to:

1. Develop fundamental knowledge relevant to health conditions (experimental, mechanistic and epidemiological research)

  • clinical trials in targeted populations
  • applied research on mechanisms of action and novel biomarkers for lifestyle interventions

2. Build an evidence base for practice

  • proof of principle studies and evidence based reviews that support innovative research in practice
  • research informing clinical decision making
  • population health research to identify risk factors of local communities

3. Translate research into practice

  • supporting research that informs healthcare solutions
  • community based programs that provide supportive environments to promote health
  • utilising interdisciplinary research


HIRC researchers work within the following research areas including and not limited to:

  • Pregnancy and early childhood
  • Mental health
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Food and health
  • Healthy ageing
  • Primary and community health
  • Health services research

Grants awarded in 2019

Dr Anita Stefoska-Needham (SOM), Dr Kelly Lambert (SOM), Prof Karen Charlton (SOM), Dr Maria Chan (St George Hospital), Jordan Stanford (PhD Candidate, SOM).

SYMBIOTiC StudySYMptom, microBIOme and dieT in Chronic Kidney Disease. $10,000.

A randomised controlled crossover trial to test the impact and efficacy of a novel dietary intervention, high in plant foods, on symptom burden, quality of life (QOL), gut microbiome profile and biochemical parameters in a sample of non-dialysed adults with Chronic Kidney Disease.


Dr Monique Francois (SOM), Dr Elizabeth Neale (SOM), Dr Danielle Schoenaker (SOM).

Is Post-Meal Walking (PMW) a Potential Therapy to Prevent Gestational Diabetes (GDM) in Women at High Risk? $5,000

A randomize controlled trial to determine whether advice to perform PMW in women with at least one risk factor for GDM can improve glucose tolerance in pregnancy and prevent the development of GDM, compared to standard-care advice.


Dr Jessica Nealon (SOM), Janine Masso (SON), Dr Mu-Hsing Ho (PhD candidate SON), Assistant Prof Kee-Hsin Chen (Taipei Medical University), Dr Rita Chang (SON), Prof Victoria Traynor (SON).

Systematic review and meta-analyses of postoperative delirium (POD): understanding POD incidence, & the diagnostic accuracy of delirium assessment tools used in the anaesthetic recovery unit. $5,000

This project aims to perform two systematic reviews & meta-analyses to determine:

(1) an accurate incidence rate of POD; and

(2) the diagnostic accuracy of delirium assessment tools used in anaesthetic recovery.

Dr Yasmine Probst (SOM, Dr Rebecca Stanley (Early Start), Anthony McKnight (School of Education).

Stronger culture, healthy lifestyles: feasibility of an afterschool cultural activity program for Aboriginal children living in the Illawarra region. $10,000.

This study aims to expand on a pilot study conducted in the Shoalhaven region and evaluate the feasibility, acceptability and potential efficacy of an afterschool cultural program in promoting cultural connectedness, positive healthy behaviours and educational outcomes among Aboriginal children aged 5-12 years living in the Illawarra region of NSW.

Dr Kelly Lambert (SOM), Narelle Ilic (ISLHD), Jenny Chen (ISLHD), Holly Mitchell (ISLHD). 

How does pain impact the life of people with severe kidney failure? $10,000

The aim of this project is to explore the lived experience of pain in older people with ESKD from the patient and carer perspective. Of particular interest, is the way pain may impact on socialisation, quality of life, medication and dietary self-management.


Dr Pippa Burns (SOM), Dr Michelle Eady (School of Education), Dr (School of the Arts, English and Media), Prof Victoria Traynor (SON).

Project DARE: validating the curriculum. $5,000

Project DARE (Dementia knowledge, Art, Research and Education) is an educational program for Stage 2 children (ages 8-11 years).This study will further extend the findings from a feasibility pilot study by:

1. Engaging with individuals living with dementia and their carers to obtain feedback on the multidimensional lesson plans, including the art-based activities.

2. Amending the lesson plans to reflect the views of more diverse schools and individuals living with dementia.

3. Undertaking a systematic review of the literature to identify international dementia education programs targeted at children.


Dr Hui Chen (Rita) Chang (SON), Prof Victoria Traynor (SON), Michelle Mason (ISLHD), Liliana Baronne (ISLHD).

Understanding feeding challenges & the feeding behaviours assessment tools for persons with dementia (PWD) in long-term facilities. $2,500

To conduct a systematic literature review to identify available, validated feeding behaviour assessment tools for PWD, and determine an accurate measurement tool for use in intervention studies in healthcare settings.