Sexuality; sexual health; sexual practice; sexual behaviour, sociology of sexual practice, sex in Australia.
Fields of Research (FoR)Epidemiology, Culture, Gender, Sexuality
I have worked for over 30 years in sexual health research and education. My research centres on the analysis of social (especially sexual) practice. It includes representative-sample survey research, in-depth qualitative studies and theoretical work on the sociology of sexual practice, with a special interest in the relation between social interaction and material context. Topics include prevention of HIV and other sexually transmissible...view more
I have worked for over 30 years in sexual health research and education. My research centres on the analysis of social (especially sexual) practice. It includes representative-sample survey research, in-depth qualitative studies and theoretical work on the sociology of sexual practice, with a special interest in the relation between social interaction and material context. Topics include prevention of HIV and other sexually transmissible infections, contraception, reproductive choice and decision making, condoms and condom use, sexual difficulties, sexual subcultures, sexual experience and identity, and sexual practices. Population groups studied include university students and other young people, sex workers, gay and other homosexually active men, women in contact with the gay and lesbian community, prisoners, backpackers, and the general public.
I was lead investigator on the Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships, a large national representative sample survey by telephone of more than 20,000 Australians aged 16 to 69 examining their sexual health, attitudes and behaviour. This study, funded by the NHMRC, is the follow-up to the award-winning first survey in 2001–02 (see www.ashr.edu.au). I continue to be involved with this work. The Third Australian Study of Health and Relationships was funded by the NHMRC from 2019 with Professor Rebecca Guy as lead investigator.
In 2011–2015 I also led an ARC Linkage study with Family Planning New South Wales looking at women’s understandings and experiences of contraception in relation to their sexual lives, using in-depth interviews with over 90 women across New South Wales.
Other research with collaborators includes: the Sydney Women and Sexual Health (SWASH) study of lesbian, bisexual and queer women with the University of Sydney and ACON; the Second Sexual Health and Attitudes of Australian Prisoners study; and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service Partnership with the Kirby Institute.
Topics have included sexual behaviour of backpackers, sexual subjectivity of Iranian women in Australia, adult accounts of organised child sexual abuse, women’s understandings and experiences of contraception, and various aspects of mental health in social context.
ILP and medicine honours supervision:
Topics have included: students' understandings of the transmission of sexual infections; the sexual histories of sex offenders; smoking and drug use among lesbians; sexual difficulties among male prisoners; Asian students' access to contraception; women's understandings of how contraceptives work; young men's attitudes towards their role in an unplanned pregnancy; medical students' attitudes to non-heterosexuals; and young women's experience of oral contraception.
Society Memberships & Professional Activities:
Full Member, International Academy of Sex Research
Australian Sociological Association (TASA)
Institute of Professional Editors
Editorial Board member, Journal of Sex Research, Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters (London) and Sexual Health (Melbourne)
Specific Research Keywords:
Sexuality, Sexual health, Social determinants of health, Research methods, Psychosocial issues
BA, MPH, PhD (USyd)
Rationale / Background
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 asked women about their thoughts, feelings and experiences of contraception as part of their sexual lives. It has helped 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…
The Australian Study of Health and Relationships (ASHR) is our most important study of sexual and reproductive health. Conducted once a decade with a population-representative sample of around 20,000 people, it gives a snapshot of the sexual health and well-being of the Australian population and provides information essential for the development of policy and the delivery of sexual and reproductive health programs across Australia.
The second round of the study was carried out in 2012-2013 and the main results were published in the journal Sexual Health in November…