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Facts & figures

Research highlights

  • 140+ peer-reviewed publications
  • 300+ research students
  • 90+ training and capacity building partnerships
  • Top-cited researchers Professor Adrian Bauman (Highly cited researcher list for 2018)
  • 2017 recipient of the Vice Chancellor's Award for Excellence

Prevention Research Collaboration

Collaborative research solutions for a healthier world
We're committed to expanding research in non-communicable disease prevention, as well as other aspects of primary prevention and health promotion including physical activity, nutrition, obesity and tobacco.

About us

The Prevention Research Collaboration is a specialised research group that sits within the University of Sydney School of Public Health, based at the Charles Perkins Centre.

We undertake collaborative research projects involving researchers and policy makers, to create the knowledge and evidence needed to improve policy and practice in the prevention and control of non-communicable diseases.

PRC Research Brochure

Dowload our research brochure (pdf, 860kb) to find out more about our work, our people and why we attract the best research students and researchers.  

Our research

Our research applies a public health lense to physical activity, nutrition, obesity prevention, epidemiology and health promotion research, as well as other aspects of primary prevention.

We work alongside policymakers, practitioners, NGOs, global health organisations and the community to deliver public health and policy-relevant researchand education.

By bringing together researchers with diverse areas of expertise, we aim to engage in a range of policy-relevant research studies to generate different kinds of public health evidence, including:

Our work focuses on improving population health through high quality epidemiological, measurement and surveillance research. We ask epidemiological questions of large cross-sectional and complex longitudinal data linked to routinely-collected medical records data, biobanks, and non-health data (e.g. GPS, transport data, social media) to examine trends and changes in the relationships between chronic disease, health status, and behavioural risk factors.

Academic leaders: Professor Adrian Bauman, Associate Professor Melody Ding 

Assessing the impacts of complex interventions and policy (e.g. translational scaled-up programs, natural experiments) on the individuals and communities require innovative research methodologies and evaluation designs.

Determining if an intervention worked, why it worked, for whom and in what conditions, are critical for advancing the evidence base and for informing public health policy and practice. The PRC has distinctive skills in evaluating population- and system-level prevention and health promotion programs.

We have conducted evaluation research of major policy changes and new initiatives, including the NSW Get Healthy Information & Coaching Service, NSW Quitline, Make Healthy Normal, and Get Healthy @ Work amongst others.

In addition to this, we have led research to systematically investigate elements of practitioner, organisational and systemic capacity that influence evaluation practice and use within Australian prevention agencies. This has informed the development of the Evaluation Practice Analysis Survey, which is a tool for assessing evaluation capacity and practice.

Academic leaders: Professor Adrian Bauman, Dr Anne Grunseit, Dr Margaret Thomas, Professor Ben Smith, Dr Blythe O’Hara, Dr Mel Crane

We are at the forefront of developing innovative public health methods around implementation and delivery research, and frameworks for scalability of interventions to maximise impact and public health reach. This body of work has been embedded into practical research guides and tools for health professionals embarking in translational research activities.

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPPC)

The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPPC) is a national partnership between academic researchers, policymakers and practitioners working collaboratively to improve the prevention of lifestyle-related chronic disease using a systems approach. TAPPC is in its second 5-year funding cycle, and continues to expand its network of partners including state and federal health departments, academic institutions and Centres, and non-government agencies. The research aims to strengthen the evidence base, facilitate dissemination of knowledge, and build capacity at policy, strategy, program and implementation level about prevention of non-communicable chronic disease.

The Prevention Research Collaboration is currently involved in a number of TAPPC research programs focusing on:

  • Implementation and scaling up of prevention programs;
  • monitoring community perceptions of prevention
  • developing a systems approach to promote physical activity at the population level;
  • and evaluation of scaled up interventions.

Academic leaders: Professor Adrian Bauman, Dr Anne Grunseit, Adjunct Professor Bill Bellew

The PRC has made exceptional contributions through its world-leading physical activity and health research, especially to understand the many health benefits of increasing physical activity. This is recognised in the PRC academics developing and leading the Lancet Physical Activity Publication series 2012 and 2016, and Professor Bauman named in the top 1% of Clarivate Analytics Highly Cited Researcher as among one of the most influential researchers.

Academic leaders: Professor Adrian Bauman, Associate Professor Melody Ding

The SPort & Recreation INTervention & Epidemiology Research (SPRINTER)

A partnership between the Prevention Research Collaboration and the NSW Office of Sport. The partnership aims to establish a robust evidence base to support the NSW Government’s sport and active recreation priorities. This includes:

  1. Enhancing the health, wealth and wellbeing of NSW population through increasing participation in Sport and recreation
  2. Conducting quality research and evaluation that informs policy and practice
  3. Establishing cross-sector partnerships that enhance quality and relevance of research
  4. Fostering a sport policy and practice culture that values research
  5. Building research capability in sport policy and practice through stakeholder and sector engagement

More information on SPRINTER can be found on the Office of Sport Website.  

Dr Lindsey Reece from SPRINTER partnership discusses physical activity advocacy with Trevor Shilton from the Heart Foundation. Watch the webinar.


Physical activity for healthy ageing

Our researchers are supporting the development and evaluation of strategies to promote engagement by older people in community-based exercise, sport and recreational opportunities. These strategies include several national Better Ageing projects funded by Sport Australia, and the Victorian Active Ageing Project funded by the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services.

Academic leaders: Dr Lindsey Reece, Professor Ben Smith

We conduct research that is relevant and appropriate for policy and for informing public health. The PRC has a reputation for co-creating knowledge with health practitioners and policy-makers, developing innovative evaluation research methods, and providing evidence with practical application to public health policy.

Physical Activity Nutrition Obesity Research Group (PANORG)

PANORG is funded by NSW Ministry of Health to conduct policy-relevant evidence reviews, research and evaluation to support health promotion and obesity prevention initiatives in NSW. The group works closely with the Centre for Population Health, Ministry of Health.

We provide evidence advice, support evidence-based policy, conduct applied research and evaluation, and build workforce capacity in the promotion of physical activity, healthy eating and prevention of overweight and obesity in NSW.

Academic leaders: Dr Margaret Thomas, Adjunct Professor Bill Bellew, Associate Professor Philayrath Phongsavan, Professor Adrian Bauman

The Australian Systems Approach to Physical Activity (ASAPa)

The Australian Systems Approach to Physical Activity (ASAPa) is a national project carried out by the Prevention Research Collaboration under the auspices of The Australian Prevention Partnership Centre (TAPPC).

Funded by the National Medical Research Futures Fund, ASAPa aims to develop Australia’s first national framework to strengthen cross-jurisdictional, cross-sectoral action to increase population level physical activity. Progress to date has involved engagement with policymakers nationwide to help map and understand physical activity related policies, programs and prevalence measures, to identify gaps and opportunities for strengthening action.

Academic leaders:  Prof. Adrian Bauman, Adjunct Professor Bill Bellew, Tracy Nau

Our research in mass media and social media as health communications tools provides crucial evidence to support strategic use of these approaches in prevention work.

The PRC has worked with research and government partners to develop evaluation frameworks and provide advice to research bodies, community organisations and government groups on how to use mass media and social media effectively in their interventions and communications.

Academic leaders: Dr James Kite, Dr Blythe O’Hara, Dr Becky Freeman, Adjunct Professor Bill Bellew, Associate Professor Philayrath Phongsavan, Dr Margaret Thomas, Professor Adrian Bauman, Professor Ben Smith

We research how people interact with their social and physical environment, specifically how the social, economic, and built environment influence physical activity behaviour, food choices and obesity.

We undertake studies using a diverse range of representative cross-sectional and longitudinal data to examine retirement and health behaviour, psychological health, social connections, cardiovascular disease and mortality.

Our research includes evaluating natural experiments, in particular whether renewal of public spaces lead to changes in residents’ physical activity behaviour, their sense of community connection and safety.

Academic leaders: Associate Professor Philayrath Phongsavan, Associate Professor Melody Ding, Dr Blythe O’Hara, Dr Mel Crane

The Centre of Research Excellence in the Early Prevention of Obesity in Childhood (EPOCH CRE)

EPOCHE CRE aims to reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related behaviours in the first five years of life, and their future impact. There is a diverse team of experts from around Australia and the world to bridge the current gaps in research, practice and policy and help improve the health outcomes for children as they grow into adulthood.

The EPOCH CRE’s research work is organised as four inter-related research Streams:

  • Analysing interventions to prevent obesity in early childhood;
  • Advancing assessment of obesity-related behaviours;
  • Economic evaluation of early childhood obesity prevention
  • Translation of evidence into policy and practice

For more details:

Academic leaders: Professor Louise Baur

PRC Hard Talk: Alcohol Policy

Can prevention policy reduce the harm caused by alcohol?  

Policy advice

The Prevention Research Collaboration is involved in providing technical and research-based advice to inform public health policy and programs. This occurs in a variety of ways, including:

  • policy consultancy (commissioned work);
  • submissions to policy inquiries and formal consultation processes;
  • rapid advice to NSW Ministry of Health on specific issues;
  • review of monitoring and other documents for NSW Ministry of Health;
  • and technical assistance for evaluation and program development with staff from NSW Ministry of Health and health services.

Policy consultancy

The purpose of this review was to outline what additional evidence had become available on childhood obesity prevention strategies. There was a particular focus on strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness for intervening at a population level in NSW.

The review states that no single solution creates sufficient impact to reverse the obesity epidemic. Only a systemic, sustained, comprehensive portfolio of cumulative initiatives, delivered at scale, is likely to be effective in tackling overweight and obesity.

Government leadership and policy action are key elements that enable and support the population behaviour change necessary to impact on child obesity. All policy options identified in this report are highly cost-effective from a societal perspective, and some policy options would generate revenue as well as delivering health gains.

The authors suggest that all recommended policy actions identified in this report should be considered for inclusion in the intervention portfolio for the comprehensive approach required to achieve the NSW Premier’s 2025 target.

Download the summary report (pdf, 690kb) and full technical report (pdf, 2.6kb).

This work was conducted at the request of the Centre for Population Health at the NSW Ministry of Health, to inform implementation of the relevant strategic direction of the NSW Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Strategy 2013–2018.

It is not intended to be an exhaustive review but rather to provide an indication of the rationale for intervening and the potential effectiveness of a broad range of policy options. It is also intended to inform ongoing stakeholder consultation regarding action with respect to the food environment.

This consultation will necessarily take account of other evidence of effectiveness including likely reach and population impact, as well as implementation issues such as sustainability of effects, feasibility, acceptability, equity, and other factors affecting planning and investment decisions. It is noted that no single action contained within this evidence synthesis will in itself be sufficient to affect weight status substantially at the population level.

A portfolio of interventions within the food environment, alongside action to increase physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviours, is required to halt the progress of obesity and prevent chronic disease.

Download the report (pdf, 1.2mb).

Current reports

An independent review of research into enablers and barriers to participation in sport. Active recreation and physical activity among children and adolescents.

The purpose of this review is to identify what is known about barriers and enablers of participation in physical activity (including sport and active recreation) among children and young people aged 3-18 years, living in Australia. It has been compiled at the request of the NSW Office of Sport and primarily for consideration by the Committee of Australian Sport and Recreation Officials (CASRO).

Access the report online.

The NSW Schools Physical Activity and Nutrition Survery (SPANS) is a representative cross-sectional, school-based health behaviour surveillance survey of school children age 5 to 16 year. The survey is conducted by the Prevention Research Collaboration and lead by Dr Louise Hardy.

This is the fifth SPANS of NSW school students and provides valuable prevalence and trend information on the weight status and health behaviours of a representative sample of 7,556 school students in Kindergarten and Years 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10, conducted in Term 1, 2015. In 2015, new indicators of children’s health were included: oral health, sleep, and muscular fitness.

Download the summary report (pdf, 476kb) and full technical report (pdf, 15.1mb).

This review was conducted between January and March 2016 to inform ongoing implementation of the NSW Fast Choices Menu Labelling legislation. This legislation was passed by NSW Parliament in November 2010 requiring certain food outlets particularly in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) setting to display nutrition information in the form of numeric kilojoule (kJ) amounts for food and beverage items at the point-of-sale, on menu boards.

Requirements came into effect on 1 February 2011, with a 12-month period for QSRs to comply before 1 February 2012.The primary audience for this review is the Working Group of the Fast Choices Labelling Reference Group within NSW.

Download the report (pdf, 4.9mb).

Trends in active travel over the period 2000-2015 were investigated using questions from three representative adult population surveys: Household Travel Survey (Transport for NSW), NSW Population Health Survey (NSW Ministry of Health), and the Australian Health Survey (Australian Bureau of Statistics; NSW data).

The previously noted decline in active travel by adults seen in Australia in the 30 years since 1976 appears to have stabilised, and by some measures there has been some increase overall in active transport in NSW. These increases are of statistical significance more than they are of health significance – any observed increases are very modest at best. Baldwin and her colleagues conclude that much more needs to done to increase the rates of active travel in NSW.

Download the full report (pdf, 1MB).

Other projects

This research program is funded through an ARC Linkage Grant, in collaboration with Cancer Council NSW. In 2010, the research program involved structured interviews with sports officials, parents and children which were conducted at selected junior sports events or training sessions.

The program provides sound information on the health promotion practices of junior sports clubs, including their policies and practices in relation to sun protection, tobacco control, healthy eating and sports participation, as well as the range and extent of food and beverage company sponsorship of junior sports.

The research has identified a number of ways in which sports clubs could promote health more consistently, including changes to sports canteens and through adopting healthy sponsorship policies. The information collected is provided back to sports clubs and regional sporting associations, as well as sport and recreation government agencies in NSW and the ACT.

Download the report (pdf, 658.7kb).

Teaching and workforce development

PRC staff members contribute to a range of teaching and capacity building activities, including a range of Sydney School of Public Health public health postgraduate courses and research-informed workforce development activities.

Our researchers and PhD students teach core and elective subjects in public health and non-communicable diseases in the Master of Public Health program, a prestigious postgraduate degree offered by the Sydney School of Public Health.

PRC experts contributed to the development and launch of the Mass Open Online Course in chronic disease prevention. This course showcases the Centre’s expertise in prevention and health promotion, including areas such as nutrition, physical activity and obesity.

PRC also conducts training and capacity workshops for a diverse range of policymakers, researchers and practitioners. With the Australian Prevention Partnership Centre. PRC ran several online and face-to-face workshops on 'Complex program evaluation for public health'.

In addition to this, PRC conducts several program evaluation workshops for NSW Ministry of Health staff and for public health and Aboriginal health trainees. Through our work with the World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre on Physical Activity, Nutrition and Obesity, we conducted online training workshops for international prevention practitioners and reached participants in over 40 countries.


Our people

  • Dr Jo Gale
  • Dr Katherine Owen
  • Dr Stephanie Partridge
  • Dr Binh Nguyen-Duy
  • Bridget Foley
  • Dr Bronwyn McGill
  • Erika Goldbaum
  • Karen Lee
  • Lucy Corbett
  • Tracy Nau
  • Dr Yvonne Laird
  • Susan Luo
  • Lilian Chan
  • Daniel Surkalim
  • Dr Karine Manera
  • Dr Catriona Rose
  • Leonie Cranney
  • Dr Mel Crane
  • Dr Philip Clare




Latest updates

Pocket-sized powerhouse

Congratulations to the PRC authors Bill Bellew, Adrian Bauman, James Kite, Bridget Foley, Lindsey Reece, Margaret Thomas, Seema Mihrshahi and Lesley King on your Highly Commended paper ‘Obesity prevention in children and young people: what policy action are needed?’ published earlier this year in Public Health Research & Practice. According to the citation, the PHRP Excellence Awards judge papers for ‘their  potential impact on public health policy and practice, usefulness to policy makers, researchers and public health practitioners, rigour of methodology and quality of analysis and presentation.’ I hope everyone can take a moment to read this powerhouse paper.

On a related note,  Margaret Thomas also co-authored a Highly Commended paper with colleagues at the NSW Office of Preventive Health ‘Reflections on the NSW Healthy Children Initiative: a comprehensive state-delivered childhood obesity prevention initiative’.

Finally, applaud to Anne Grunseit who did a media stint on Norman Swan’s Health Report yesterday about her osteoarthritis study, alongside OA expert David Hunter. Here is a link to the 7-min interview for those interested.

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Adrian Bauman and Manos Stamatakis

Both named in influential highly-cited scholars list.

Adrian has been on the Clarivate Highly Cited Researchers List since 2014! Surely that must be a world record for this category?

This is Manos’ first year on the list….and more to come no doubt.

Dr Melody Ding

Working at the intersection of physical activity, epidemiology and chronic disease prevention, Associate Professor Melody Ding has devoted her career to generating policy-relevant research outcomes.

Associate Professor Melody Ding won the Eureka Prize for Emerging Leader in Science.

“With this recognition, I am more motivated than ever to make a difference in environmental and population health through my research, teaching, mentoring and community engagement,” Associate Professor Ding said.

Her award follows on from winning the NSW Tall Poppy of the Year award in 2018. Read more >

Lucy Corbett, PhD student, the University of Sydney.

Lucy Corbet was a Finalist in the 2019 PHAA Student Think Tank Competition.

The PHAA National Public Health Student Think Tank Competition is an opportunity for students to engage with current issues in public health, showcase their innovation and interact with established professionals.

Lucy was a finalist for the competition with her entry 'Burnt out: An Organisational Approach is Necessary'.

The Prevention Research Collaboration – Professor Adrian Bauman, Professor William Bellew, Associate Professor Philayrath Phongsavan, Dr Louise Hardy, Dr Becky Freeman.

Winners of the Award for Outstanding Educational Engagement and Innovation (2017 Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence)

Through collaborative partnerships with world-renowned researchers, the group has been able to solve complex and challenging public health problems and steer public policy to implement interventions to prevent and control chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer globally.

PRC Publications (2019 - 2020)

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Associate Professor Philayrath (‘PH’) Phongsavan
Professor Philayrath (‘PH’) Phongsavan
View academic profile

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