Doctor Diana Jefferies

Doctor Diana Jefferies

Director of Academic Workforce,
School of Nursing and Midwifery

Senior Lecturer,
School of Nursing and Midwifery


I am a senior lecturer in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Western Sydney University, Australia. I have 27 years clinical experience in mental health, drug and alcohol nursing and HIV. My academic background is in the humanities and my research program examines historical and literary representations of mental illness after childbirth to investigate the cultural background of stigma.

I am very interested in how the arts, such as drama and performance can be used to disseminate research findings in health. This interest was sparked when my historical research was incorporated in a play, Mockingbird, which has been performed throughout New Zealand, Sydney, Norway and Melbourne. Mockingbird tells the story of four generations of women in one family who have been affected by mental ill health in the perinatal period. These stories were based on writer/performer Lisa Brickell’s family stories and myinvestigation in historical healthcare records of women who had been admitted to Gladesville or Callan Park mental health facilities in NSW from 1885 to 1955.

View the Mockingbird Trailer (opens in new window)

There are future performances planned for regional NSW and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Mockingbird creates a powerful format to raising awareness about perinatal mental health because the women presented in the play are embodied and they are given a voice to speak their truth. This takes the women away from the medicalised accounts normally used to describe their mental illness, often based on the healthcare professionals observation of their behaviour, to the women’s lived experience. This includes their experience of treatment and care. It is a very powerful way of connecting the women with the audience, evoking an empathic response to their situation. Also, it becomes an opportunity for the audience to consider their own response and attitude to mental illness because the audience is asked to understand mental illness from the women’s point of view. In short, it encourages the audience to see the issues around perinatal mental health in a new way and to start conversations about how health outcomes from new mothers and their babies can be bettered by improving models of treatment and care.

I am also interested in communication systems in nursing. I began my research career at the Centre for Applied Nursing Research which is a joint facility between South Western Sydney Local Health District and Western Sydney University with an interest in communication systems in nursing. In collaboration with other researchers, I developed evidence-based policies in nursing documentation, nursing clinical handover and the nursing support of patient nutrition. These policies have become official policies throughout both Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts. This remains an area I continue to research and teach.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Jefferies.


  • Phd University of Sydney
  • BAeng University of Sydney

Professional Memberships

  • Australian College of Mental Health Nurses (2015 - 2018)
  • Australian and New Zealand Society for the History of Medicine (2013)


  • Nursing and Midwifery Office, Department of Health Innovation Scholarship 2009-08-01


  • Communication Systems in Nursing
  • How literary and historical depictions of illness influence treatment and care
  • Maternal mental Health
  • Mental Health

Organisational Unit (School / Division)

  • School of Nursing and Midwifery
  • School of Nursing and Midwifery


  • MyVoice New Staff Experience


Phone: (02) 9165 8678
(02) 9685 9304
Location: 3.5.11

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Previous Teaching Areas

  • 400748 Becoming a Nurse, 2012
  • 400767 Family Health Care: Older Adult Nursing, 2014
  • 400958 A Field Study: Comparative Studies of Health Care Delivery, 2015
  • 401003 Professional Communication, 2014
  • 401013 Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing 1, 2014
  • 401017 Promoting Mental Health and Wellbeing 2, 2014


Chapters in Books

  • Stunden, A., Jefferies, D. and Kaur, A. (2024), 'Understanding digital health', Digital Health: A Transformative Approach, Elsevier Australia 9780729544238.

Journal Articles

  • Weston, E., Jefferies, D., Stulz, V., Glew, P. and McDermid, F. (2023), 'A global exploration of palliative community care literature : an integrative review', Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol 32, no 17-18 , pp 5955 - 5864.
  • Jefferies, D., Ramjan, L., Stanbrook, T., Reilly, Z. and Ratnayake, S. (2023), '[In Press] "Their tenacity to keep going" : nurses' experiences in medical hotel quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic', Journal of Advanced Nursing, .
  • Weston, E., Jefferies, D., Stulz, V. and Glew, P. (2022), 'Exploring nurses' perceptions of clinical handover in regional health care facilities : a exploratory qualitative study', Journal of Nursing Management, vol 30, no 7 , pp 3113 - 3122.
  • Burgess, S., Rogers, M. and Jefferies, D. (2022), 'Empathy and narrative : a discussion of contemporary stories from childcare and healthcare', International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, vol 14, no 5 , pp 631 - 646.
  • Jefferies, D., Glew, P., Karhani, Z., McNally, S. and Ramjan, L. (2021), 'The educational benefits of drama in nursing education : a critical literature review', Nurse Education Today, vol 98 .
  • Salamonson, Y., Glew, P., Ramjan, L., Jefferies, D., Maneze, D., Crook, B. and Everett, B. (2021), 'Psychometric evaluation of the 11-item English language usage scale in commencing nursing students', Nurse Education Today, vol 96 .
  • Jefferies, D., Schmied, V., Sheehan, A. and Duff, M. (2021), 'The river of postnatal psychosis : a qualitative study of women's experience and meanings', Midwifery, vol 103 .
  • Tsai, T., Luck, L., Jefferies, D. and Wilkes, L. (2019), 'Exploring the knowledge of student nurses about children who are overweight/obese', Clinical Nursing Studies, vol 7, no 4 , pp 63 - 69.
  • Tsai, T., Luck, L., Jefferies, D. and Wilkes, L. (2019), 'Children who are overweight or obese : attitudes and beliefs of nursing students in Taiwan', Clinical Nursing Studies, vol 7, no 1 , pp 89 - 97.
  • Jefferies, D., Duff, M. and Nicholls, D. (2018), 'Understanding the experience of women admitted to a psychiatric hospital in Sydney with psychosis or mania following childbirth after World War II (1945-1955)', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol 27, no 2 , pp 702 - 711.
  • Jefferies, D., McNally, S., Roberts, K., Wallace, A., Stunden, A., D'Souza, S. and Glew, P. (2018), 'The importance of academic literacy for undergraduate nursing students and its relationship to future professional clinical practice : a systematic review', Nurse Education Today, vol 60 , pp 84 - 91.
  • Tsai, T., Luck, L., Jefferies, D. and Wilkes, L. (2018), 'A tool to measure the attitudes and beliefs of nursing students towards childhood overweight/obesity', Collegian, vol 25 , pp 341 - 345.
  • Tsai, T., Luck, L., Jefferies, D. and Wilkes, L. (2018), 'Challenges in adapting a survey : ensuring cross-cultural equivalence', Nurse Researcher, vol 26, no 1 , pp 28 - 32.
  • Stunden, A. and Jefferies, D. (2018), 'The effectiveness of short answers test papers in evaluating academic nursing programs : a review of the literature', Nurse Education in Practice, vol 33 , pp 94 - 101.
  • Jefferies, D. (2018), 'Postnatal psychosis : bringing psychosis after birth out of the shadows', Australian Midwifery News, vol 18, no 2 , pp 16 - 17.
  • Jefferies, D. and Hatcher, D. (2018), 'Developing person-centered care through the biographies of the older adult', Journal of Nursing Education, vol 57, no 12 , pp 742 - 746.
  • Jefferies, D., Horsfall, D. and Schmied, V. (2017), 'Blurring reality with fiction : exploring the stories of women, madness, and infanticide', Women and Birth, vol 30, no 1 , pp 24 - 31.
  • Tsai, T., Luck, L., Jefferies, D. and Wilkes, L. (2017), 'Exploring nurses' knowledge and attitudes about children who are overweight/obese : a review of the literature', Clinical Nursing Studies, vol 5, no 1 , pp 50 - 56.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M. and Langdon, R. (2015), 'Rekindling the role of nurses in patients' oral nutrition', International Journal of Nursing Practice, .
  • Stunden, A., Halcomb, E. and Jefferies, D. (2015), 'Tools to reduce first year nursing students' anxiety levels prior to undergoing objective structured clinical assessment (OSCA) and how this impacts on the student's experience of their first clinical placement', Nurse Education Today, .
  • Jefferies, D., Duff, M., Burns, E. and Nicholls, D. (2015), 'Historical perspectives : a snapshot of women admitted to psychiatric facilities with psychosis or mania after childbirth in the late Victorian and inter-war periods', Journal of Advanced Nursing, .
  • Jefferies, D. and Horsfall, D. (2014), 'Forged by fire : Margery Kempe's account of postnatal psychosis', Literature and Medicine, vol 32, no 2 , pp 348 - 364.
  • Jefferies, D. and Horsfall, D. (2013), 'Developing person-centred care through the use of autobiography', International Practice Development Journal, vol 3, no 1 , pp 1 - 17.
  • Johnson, M., Jefferies, D. and Nicholls, D. (2012), 'Developing a minimum data set for electronic nursing handover', Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol 21, no 3-4 , pp 331 - 343.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M., Nicholls, D., Langdon, R. and Lad, S. (2012), 'Evaluating an intensive ward-based writing coach programme to improve nursing documentation : lessons learned', International Nursing Review, vol 59, no 3 , pp 394 - 401.
  • Jefferies, D. (2012), 'Communicate with clarity', Nursing Standard, vol 26, no 40 , pp 62 - 63.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M., Nicholls, D. and Lad, S. (2012), 'A ward-based writing coach program to improve the quality of nursing documentation', Nurse Education Today, vol 32, no 6 , pp 647 - 651.
  • Johnson, M., Jefferies, D. and Nicholls, D. (2012), 'Exploring the structure and organization of information within nursing clinical handovers', International Journal of Nursing Practice, vol 18, no 5 , pp 462 - 470.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M. and Nicholls, D. (2012), 'Comparing written and oral approaches to clinical reporting in nursing', Contemporary Nurse, vol 42, no 1 , pp 129 - 138.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M. and Ravens, J. (2011), 'Nurturing and nourishing: the nurses' role in nutritional care', Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol 20, no 3-4 , pp 317 - 330.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M. and Nicholls, D. (2011), 'Nursing documentation: How meaning is obscured by fragmentary language', Nursing Outlook, vol 59, no 6 , pp 6 - 12.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M. and Griffiths, R. (2010), 'A meta-study of the essentials of quality nursing documentation', International Journal of Nursing Practice, vol 16, no 2 , pp 112 - 124.
  • Jefferies, D., Johnson, M., Griffiths, R., Arthurs, K., Beard, D., Chen, T., Edgetton-Win, M., Hecimovic, T., Hughes, M., Linten, K., Maddox, J., McCaul, D., Robson, K., Scott, S. and Zarkos, T. (2010), 'Engaging clinicians in evidence based policy development : the case of nursing documentation', Contemporary Nurse, vol 35, no 2 , pp 254 - 264.
  • Johnson, M., Jefferies, D. and Langdon, R. (2010), 'The Nursing and Midwifery Content Audit Tool (NMCAT) : a short nursing documentation audit tool', Journal of Nursing Management, vol 18, no 7 , pp 832 - 845.

Conference Papers

  • Dadich, A., Hugman, S., Belkina, M., Yevenes, K., Jefferies, D., Hellany, A., Kumar, J., Liyanage, L., Zhang, Z. and Dong, K. (2022), 'Multidisciplinary project-based learning and teaching in universities : does it work?', Australasian Association for Engineering Education. Conference, Parramatta, N.S.W..
  • Jefferies, D. (2007), 'The Spiritual Collison between the Old And the New in Malory's Sangreal', AULLA 2007 Cultural Interactions Between the Old and New Worlds, Univeristy of NSW.

Other Publications

  • 2018, 'Tackling Maternal Anxiety in the Perinatal Period: Reconceptualising Mothering Narratives', Report

My current research project investigates historical accounts of the lived experience of mental illness in women following childbirth.

This includes looking at an accounts of postnatal psychosis in literature and in the historical record found in the archives of healthcare records stored in the NSW State Records Office.

This information has been contributed by Doctor Jefferies.


Current Supervision

Field of Research:

Previous Supervision

Thesis Title: Children Who Are Overweight or Obese: Attitudes, Beliefs and Knowledge of Nursing Students in Taiwan
Field of Research: Mothercraft Nursing And Family And Child Health Nursing

Western Sydney University

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