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Laboratory head: Professor Neville Owen

The Behavioural Epidemiology Laboratory is concerned with the primary prevention of chronic diseases, specifically diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Our research deals with:

  • Gathering and interpreting evidence from trials of broad-reaching interventions. The aim is to better understand how variations in behaviour can influence health outcomes and to identify the factors that can influence behavioural change.
  • The health consequences of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviours.
  • The measurement and analysis of environmental, social and personal-level determinants of behavioral risk factors (e.g. sitting in motor vehicles) and lack of physical activity.

The goal of our laboratory is to contribute unique insights relevant to public health policy. We aim to identify environmental and social innovations that can increase physical activity and reduce sitting time.

We are building comprehensive scientific links between epidemiological evidence; clinical/experimental investigations; behavioural intervention trials on changing sitting time in real-world settings; and large-scale population studies of environment/behaviour relationships in key target settings such as workplaces and more recently, schools. This integration aims to provide much-needed evidence to inform new policy directions in public health to reduce Australia's disease burden from excessive sedentary time and physical inactivity.

Why focus on sitting time?

Our ultimate goal is to contribute unique insights relevant to public health policy. We aim to identify environmental and social innovations that can increase physical activity and reduce sitting time.

We work closely with the Physical Activity Laboratory to build comprehensive scientific links between epidemiological evidence; clinical/experimental investigations; behavioural intervention trials on changing sitting time in real-world settings; and large-scale population studies of environment/behaviour relationships in key target settings such as workplaces, transportation and schools.

This integration aims to provide much-needed evidence to inform new policy directions in public health in order to reduce Australia's disease burden from excessive sedentary time and physical inactivity.

Research focus

The program of studies on sedentary behaviour, physical activity and health conducted by the Behavioural Epidemiology Laboratory includes:

  • Cross-sectional and prospective epidemiologic observational studies.
  • Measurement development studies using state-of-the-art accelerometer and inclinometer devices.
  • Studies on the multiple levels of influence on physical activity and sedentary behaviour, focused on understanding environmental determinants.
  • Field-based intervention trials on the feasibility and outcomes of changing physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
  • The ongoing refinement of conceptual models to integrate the evidence and explain multiple levels of influence on physical activity and sedentary behaviour.
  • Addressing research-translation implications.
  • Informing clinical practice and public health policy.

Projects

Centre of Research Excellence
Sitting time and chronic disease prevention: measurement, mechanisms and intervention

Sedentary time — too much sitting, as distinct from too little exercise — is now being recognised as a population-wide, ubiquitous health risk, manifested in children, adults and older people.

The CRE research program will bring together national and international research teams to build new interdisciplinary research capacities and to integrate and advance knowledge on sitting time and chronic disease prevention across three key themes:

  1. Measurement.
  2. Mechanisms.
  3. Interventions.

Cross-talk between the three CRE research teams and themes provides the basis for multidisciplinary training, research innovation, and knowledge generation and translation (as illustrated below).

The research is conducted across key life stages (children, youth, adults, older adults) and population-health settings.

This capacity building, along with the subsequent unique body of evidence to be developed, and our research translation initiatives will add novel elements to guidelines, practice, and policy for chronic disease prevention.

Behavioural Epidemiology CRE diagram

More information...

Staff

Dr Genevieve Healy (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Dr Mohammad Javad Koohsari (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Dr Takemi Sugiyama (Postdoctoral Fellow)
Nyssa Hadgraft (PhD Student)
Monika Loskot (PhD Student)
Jasmeen Oberoi (Research Assistant)
Ruth Grigg (Program Manager)

Support us

With the rising number of Australians affected by diabetes, heart disease and stroke, the need for research is more critical than ever.

Find out more