School of Public Health and Community Medicine

Current Social Research Projects

Contraception Understandings and Experiences

Women (and men) use contraception so that they can have sex without pregnancy. Yet we know surprisingly little about how women perceive the effects of the different contraceptive methods on their bodies and on their relationships. This study will ask women about their thoughts, feelings and experiences of contraception as part of their sexual lives. It will help us understand why women change contraceptive methods, why they sometimes put up with undesirable side effects and why they sometimes take risks even when they do not wish to become pregnant. The findings will extend the sociological understanding of heterosexual interactions and will also assist in training doctors and nurses in contraceptive counselling and prescribing.

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Pandemic influenza: people, policy, science

This Australian Research Council Discovery Project examines how Australia responded to H1N1 2009 (Swine flu) and similar outbreaks, so that we can better prepare for future pandemics. Using in-depth interviews with everyday Australians and policy-makers, document analysis, and policy research workshops, the Project will investigate the conditions of everyday life that influence how Australians think, feel and act with regard to pandemic influenza. It will also focus on the related challenges of: the prevention and treatment of influenza; the gaps between policy and everyday life; and the political ramifications of pandemic infectious diseases. This Discovery Project will supply rich and unprecedented data for the advancement of pandemic control in Australia. The research will be conducted in Melbourne and Sydney.

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Ultrasound, embodiment and abortion: An analysis of foetal imaging and the ethics of the selective termination of pregnancy

This project examines how the widespread use of ultrasound in pregnancy might be effecting public debates about the ethics of abortion. Obstetric ultrasound is a routine aspect of pregnancy, and foetal images are a familiar part of our cultural landscape. Combining social research and philosophical analysis, we will investigate the ways ultrasound shapes the experience of pregnancy. It will lead to an innovative theoretical framework for understanding the ethics of abortion that takes into account women's experience and that will help ensure foetal and maternal wellbeing. The project will contribute to public debate in Australia about abortion, and expand the knowledge base of bioethics and social studies of medical technologies.

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