Research Supervisor Connect

Addressing harms from smoking during pregnancy


A range of higher degree research (HDR) student project opportunities exist for talented and motivated candidates, who are concerned about addressing inequities created by tobacco and smoking, especially during pregnancy. Projects could cover individual behaviour, clinician behaviour, health systems research and implementation research, using qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods approaches. The supervisory team are based in Lismore at the Rural Clinical School (Northern Rivers), also known as the University Centre for Rural Health.


Associate Professor Megan Passey, Dr Jo Longman.

Research location

Rural Clinical School (Northern Rivers)

Program type



The UCRH conducts a vibrant research program focusing on the health care needs of rural populations around Australia while building research leadership and research capacity within the Northern Rivers region. The work of UCRH researchers has gained a national and international reputation, with funding support received on a regular basis from the NHMRC and a range of other Government agencies and support bodies. We have a particular strength in health systems research, research addressing inequities, and Aboriginal health research.Tobacco smoking is the largest single preventable cause of illness and mortality in Australia, contributing to 9% of the total burden of disease and exacerbates health inequalities. Smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of multiple serious adverse outcomes for the child including stillbirth, preterm birth, low birth weight, asthma, childhood respiratory infections and adult cardiovascular disease.
In 2016, 9.5% of pregnant women in Australia smoked in the first half of pregnancy, and of these 78% smoked in the second half of pregnancy, suggesting that more could be done to support women to stop smoking whilst pregnant. While antenatal smoking has declined in recent years, this decline has been unequal and disparities persist: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women (42%), teenage mothers (30.5%), those living in remote (19.5%) and very remote (34.6%) areas, and those of low socio-economic status (17.4%) have significantly higher rates of smoking than other pregnant women. While many pregnant women are highly motivated to quit, they face significant challenges including a lack of effective support from clinicians.
Several opportunities exist related to addressing and reducing smoking in pregnancy and the associated harms. These include research related to:• Improving implementation of evidence-based practice in routine clinical care
• Trials of smoking cessation interventions for pregnant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
• Exploring systemic barriers to provision of smoking cessation care
• Developing novel interventions to support cessation

Additional information

Students interested in enquiring further should provide a CV detailing their academic track record and research experience. Please note the University Centre for Rural Health does not provide scholarships. People interested in undertaking research higher degrees must have a competitive academic track record that would allow them to attract their own scholarship (usually either a first class Honours degree in a field of direct relevance to the proposed research, or 2nd class Honours or Masters with relevant research experience and peer-reviewed publications). International students would need both a scholarship and sufficient funds to pay the fees required by the University of Sydney.

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Opportunity ID

The opportunity ID for this research opportunity is 2793