Our research

Our research

Research in the Department of Health Professions

Optimising development, performance and wellbeing of people across the lifespan

Our research in the Department of Health Professions (DHP) at Macquarie University is led by a group of experienced physiotherapists and biomechanists. Our core research areas are physical activity, pain, function and complex conditions which all target Macquarie University’s research priority of 'healthy people'.

Health professions research aims

The principal objective of our research is to optimise development, performance and wellbeing of people across the lifespan and across diverse health settings. Specifically, our research aims to:

  • Identify health problems, through development of screening and diagnostic tools
  • Manage conditions, through design and evaluation of person-centred interventions
  • Prevent future injury and disease, by identification and management of risk factors
  • Support a healthy lifestyle, through facilitating behaviour change

Health professions research

We strive to conduct world-class inter-disciplinary research that is relevant to national and international researchers, managers, providers of health services, clinicians, patients and the community.

Health professions research core areas

1. Physical activity

Physical inactivity is identified by the World Health Organisation as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. Our first core research area targets this global health problem, as we design ways to support people to increase their physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour across their lifespan. Our aim is to identify barriers and facilitate behaviour change to enhance physical activity and exercise across a breadth of settings. These include corporate wellbeing programs, interventions for people with chronic conditions such as stroke or cardiorespiratory disease, and knowledge translation strategies for people with chronic musculoskeletal disorders.

2. Pain

In developed countries, pain now affects more people than diabetes, heart disease and cancer combined, and it is the primary reason why people seek health care from health professionals such as physiotherapists. Our second core research area aims to address specific pain problems in neonates, infants, children, adults and older people. Our research includes developing and evaluating novel clinical tools to assess pain, investigating mechanisms of somatosensory dysfunction, and testing treatments for common conditions such as back pain, neck pain and osteoarthritis. We have a particular focus on optimising pain management in primary care settings as well as conducting epidemiological studies to identify prevalence, risk factors and prognosis.

3. Function

From patient populations, to elite athletes, the ability to optimise function is important for improving quality of life and achieving performance goals. Our third core research area aims to improve function for people whose function has been compromised by disease or injury as well as in athletes and military populations who require specialised function to be successful in their chosen sport or profession. This research includes falls prevention programs in elderly populations, optimising function in children with neurodevelopmental impairments, strength and conditioning programs in military populations, and interventions designed to optimise movement efficiency in distance runners.  Our research also targets biomechanics, training and exercise physiology in active populations, including athletes.

4. Complex conditions

With multi-morbidity now common in older Australians, management of complex conditions has become a research priority. Our fourth core research area addresses such complex conditions in paediatric populations, adults and older people. These include conditions such as stroke, traumatic brain injury, diabetes and sleep-disordered breathing in adults; morbidities associated with extreme prematurity or extremely low birth weight and complex musculoskeletal conditions affecting children such as achondroplasia, osteogenesis imperfecta and congenital talipes equinovarus.

Health professions research: Our collaborators and funding partners

Research collaborators

Health Professions researchers fashion highly productive linkages with health care provider organisations and external research agencies. These inter-disciplinary collaborations drive high quality research that is both scholarly and clinically relevant.

Our collaborative research partners include:


  • Stanford University
  • Duke University
  • University of Massachusetts: Department of Kinesiology
  • University College London
  • Ghent University
  • VU University
  • University of Montreal
  • Keele University
  • Otago University: Departments of Physiology and Medicine
  • Universidade Cidade de São Paulo


  • Sydney Children’s Hospital Network
  • Murdoch Children’s Research
  • Neuroscience Research Australia
  • Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health
  • Australian Institute of Sport
  • University of Sydney
  • The George Institute for Global Health
  • Royal Rehabilitation
  • Concentric Rehabilitation Centre
  • Australian Catholic University
  • University of Newcastle
  • Royal North Shore Hospital
  • University of South Australia
  • Mater Mothers’ Hospital, Brisbane
  • Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, Brisbane
  • Sydney Children’s Hospital, Randwick

Funding Partners

Our relationships with funding partners span government and community organisations, the corporate sector, industry, professional organisations and health care service providers. Through these strong partnerships, our programs of research can be supported and sustained.

Our funding partners include:

  • Physiotherapy Foundation of Canada
  • International Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy Research Foundation
  • Danish Chiropractic Research and Education Fund
  • National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
  • Defence Health Foundation
  • Australian Army Research Scheme
  • Happy Body at Work / Springday
  • Arthritis NSW
  • Work Cover NSW
  • NSW Department of Family and Community Services

Content owner: Health Professions Last updated: 19 Dec 2018 8:47am

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