Health & Wellbeing: Translation, Integration & Innovation

Research within the Health and Wellbeing theme spans from basic medical science through to community-based translational research. At the fundamental medical science level, we explore at the molecular, cellular, systems and biological mechanisms level how the human body responds to disease and environmental changes. At a clinical and community level, we explore how health initiatives can prevent disease and illness, encourage healthy lifestyles in individuals and communities, and reduce the cost and impact of illness. We take an integrated approach to health research. The environments in which we live, the cultural background from which we come, and the work we do all affect our physical and mental wellbeing.

And, despite continuous improvements in medicine and medical care, the need for this healthcare is growing. One in four children are overweight or obese. While the amount of Australians smoking has halved since 1991, 12.8% of Australians still smoke. Almost one in five people consume alcohol in such a way that it puts them at risk of an alcohol-related disease or injury. Health and wellbeing are linked. Our effective, research-led interventions focus on the complex factors contributing to health outcomes.

Theme Champions

Theme Fellow

Research Excellence in Health & Wellbeing

Western has research expertise across a range of health and medical research specialisations, from e-health service delivery and reaction chromatography diagnostics to translational cancer research and sports science.

MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development

The MARCS Institute for Brain, Behaviour and Development conducts world-class interdisciplinary research that advances knowledge and finds sustainable solutions to practical problems concerning human interactions, new technologies and our interaction with the environment. The Institute’s vision is to optimise human interaction and wellbeing across the lifespan.

NICM Health Research Institute

The NICM Health Research Institute conducts world-leading research into integrative and complementary medicine and policy, bridging the gap between these widely used therapies and evidence of their effectiveness.

Translational Health Research Institute

The Translational Health Research Institute (THRI) conducts research into chronic disease, mental health, Indigenous health, human geography, and health services bringing together leading researchers who are oriented to the translation of research into community health services and policy and concerned with the needs of the individual within a complex health system.

Impact Snapshot

Tackling Diabetes in Western Sydney

Western Sydney faces an epidemic of diabetes. Western Sydney’s diabetes hospitalisations are almost twice that of the rest of Sydney. In the health districts of western Sydney over half the population is overweight or obese.

Diabetes costs the Australian health system around six billion dollars every year. Interventions that lower rates of illness and reduce costs here in western Sydney, the diabetes frontline, will work Australia-wide.

Distinguished Professor David Simmons and a team of researchers from the University are working with local communities, clinicians from hospitals and general practices across western Sydney to end the epidemic. Their goal: lower rates of diabetes in western Sydney through initiatives to prevent obesity, diabetes, and associated complications.

David and the team are taking a threefold approach. Prevent diabetes in relation to other illnesses and conditions, including pregnancy, retinopathy, nephropathy, and cardiovascular disease; educate health professionals in diabetes management; and support those with the illness to self-manage.

One project – The Pasifika Preventing Diabetes Program – is supported through an NHMRC partnership grant. David and his team are working with the Pasifika community church networks and 13 partner organisations. including Local Health Districts and Primary Health Networks across Greater Western and South-Eastern Sydney, to reduce the diabetes epidemic in these communities.

Learn more about diabetes research at Western:


Research Capacity Map

The Research Capacity Map (PDF, 240.94 KB) (opens in a new window) highlights key areas of research strength at our metropolitan precincts related to the Research Theme. If you would like to know more about a specific precinct or key capacity, please contact the Champions of this Research Theme.

Health & Wellbeing Report (2020-2021)

Health & Wellbeing Research Theme 2020-2021 Report cover image

The Health & Wellbeing Theme is proud to present a summary of activities throughout 2020-2021. Despite the intense difficulties over this period imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Theme continues to grow, expanding its reach and impact.

The research-led discoveries, interventions and innovations covered in this report take as their focus the complex and intersecting factors which contribute to health and wellbeing outcomes.

Collaboration is at the core of Theme activity, should you have any questions or inquiry please do get in touch.

Download the report (PDF, 4815.45 KB) (opens in a new window)

White Papers

Health and wellbeing are complex phenomena shaped by a wide range of factors including institutions, health systems, socio-economic resources, cultural attitudes, gender, and age. There is an urgent need for interdisciplinary research across behavioural, health, biomedical, social sciences and the humanities that can engage community, policy makers, clinicians, not-for-profit organisations and private enterprise in generating solutions that can support health and wellbeing across the lifecycle.

The Health & Wellbeing White Papers bring together interdisciplinary and collaborative teams to showcase the distinctive expertise and capacities of health and wellbeing research at Western Sydney University. The teams undertake agile, interdisciplinary, collaborative research with a broad range of partners across the health and wellbeing sector and aim to build a robust community of practice committed to person-centred care, evidence-based practice, and systemic change, locally, nationally and internationally. These teams are well-positioned to intervene in contemporary health challenges, in Western Sydney and beyond.

Sport, Health and Society

Sport, Health and Society cover image

Whether through participation, spectatorship, or community engagement, sport has the potential to improve health outcomes, empower individuals, and unite communities. Yet despite the physical, mental, social, and economic benefits associated with sport and associated physical activities, access and engagement can be challenging and suboptimal for many. The purpose of this white paper is to showcase Western Sydney University's current research, engagement, and partnership activities; highlight several key challenges associated with sport engagement and the broader sport industry; and to explore potential opportunities for sport, health, and society in a post COVID-19 era.

Download the Sport, Health and Society White Paper (PDF, 498.94 KB) (opens in a new window)

Depression, Comorbidity and Integrated Care

Depression White Paper cover image

An increasing number of people live with both depression and another mental or physical illness. As awareness of the complex interplay between depression and other illnesses grows, so does the need for health providers and consumers to work together to develop improved approaches to care. The purpose of this white paper is to describe a new integrated, collaborative and transdiagnostic approach to the care provided to people living with both depression and a co-occurring mental and/or physical illness. This includes the promotion of improved consumer partnerships to increase consumer self-efficacy and to recommend actions to educate and support healthcare providers.

Download the White Paper (PDF, 599.97 KB) (opens in a new window)

Maternal Anxiety

Maternal Anxiety cover image

For many mothers in Australia, worries about pregnancy, birth and parenthood have become a source of considerable anxiety. Maternal anxiety can have significant consequences for mothers and their children, families and communities. Our aim is to ameliorate maternal anxiety through effective interventions and services in the Greater Western Sydney area and beyond, and to develop strategies and scholarship that promote and celebrate diverse parenting. These strategies rest on building resilience in women, families and communities as they negotiate a world of constant information; developing, testing and implementing novel approaches to identify, prevent, and treat maternal anxiety; and co-designing systems that promote and sustain maternal and child health.

Download the Maternal Anxiety White Paper (PDF, 615.64 KB) (opens in a new window)


Ageing White Paper cover image

Australia has a rapidly ageing population, which presents a number of interrelated challenges: current age-related health complications are coupled with rising rates of lifestyle-related chronic diseases; changes in the social dynamics of the people moving into the 65 years and over age group; and the health system facing increased costs and demands, due to the changes in the health needs of the ageing population. At Western Sydney University, we believe that with challenge comes significant potential for opportunity and innovation. Our vision is a world where seniors are valued, empowered, and engaged to live healthy lifestyles that are physically, mentally, and socially active. Our mission is to improve the health and wellbeing of seniors in Western Sydney and beyond through interdisciplinary collaboration, education and training, and innovation in healthcare and policy.

Download the Ageing White Paper (PDF, 892 KB) (opens in a new window)

Eating Disorders and Obesity

Eating Disorders and Obesity cover image

Eating Disorders have traditionally been considered entirely separate to the growing problem of obesity.  However, recent research suggests this polarisation is flawed and that eating disorders and obesity are related in many significant ways. It is our contention that only an integrated approach can reduce the burden of illness for all people, whatever their position on the weight spectrum. Our collaborative model aims to bring together fields of research and have significant implications for those suffering from an eating disorder or obesity and, importantly, the increasing number who struggle with both.

Download the Eating Disorders and Obesity White Paper (PDF, 950.11 KB) (opens in a new window)

Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Health

Diabetes Obesity and Metabolic Health cover image

Diabetes is one of the most prevalent, costly, life-threatening, and growing diseases in Australia. Affecting 1.7 million Australians, diabetes costs $12–18 billion each year, and a new patient is diagnosed every five minutes. Our vision at Western Sydney University is a world without diabetes or its complications. Our mission is to create new knowledge, skills and technology, easily accessible to the relevant people, to work towards our vision of preventing diabetes and improving its management. To achieve our mission, we will harness research across several diverse and interrelated disciplines to develop, trial and, where appropriate, implement new scalable and sustainable health interventions.

Download the Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolic Health White Paper (PDF, 1847.34 KB) (opens in a new window)

Music and Health

Music and Health cover image

In an era of increasing health need, applications of music to health and well-being have the capacity to address both preventative goals and active treatment. These range from anxiety reduction to technologically assisted music making; from increasing awareness of evidence-based practice to educating volunteers, health professionals and trained music therapists. However, despite a growing evidence base, questions remain about how best to harness the health benefits of music. An interdisciplinary focus on music research across multiple schools and research institutes, offering one of only two accredited music therapy courses in Australia and with a strong focus on inter-professional care, WSU is in a unique position to offer expertise and research capacity. We seek to bring our broad ranging interdisciplinary expertise in music psychology, music therapy, medicine, nursing, and health promotion to establish ongoing links with industry to develop innovative music based therapeutic solutions to address key health concerns.

Download the Music for Health and Wellbeing White Paper (PDF, 1489.72 KB) (opens in a new window)

Women's Health

ENSURE: Women's Health White Paper cover image

Women’s health is an issue with multiple priorities and challenges. In addition to biological differences between women and men, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledges the impact of profound sociocultural and economic disadvantage on women’s health internationally. This includes unequal power relationships between men and women, women’s decreased educational and employment opportunities, an exclusive focus on women’s reproductive roles, and the experience of sexual, physical and emotional violence.

Download the Women's Health White Paper (PDF, 1189.47 KB) (opens in a new window)