The Health, Society and Medicine (HSM) Research Program focuses on exploring the intersections of social change, culture, medicine/psychiatry, disability, biotechnology, lived experiences of health and illness, informal care, and digital media and narrative in health communication. HSM is dedicated to understanding health and illness experiences in social context; supporting people’s active engagement in maintaining their health; and transforming care through influencing policy, practice and education. Our research draws on an inclusive methodology focused upon community involvement and participation. It includes national and international interdisciplinary partnerships with researchers from the critical social sciences, humanities, medicine, law, creative arts, and critical disability studies. We also engage with a wide range of industry partners in relevant cross-sector collaborations.


  • Explore how the economic, political, cultural and subjective aspects of social life, including emerging health technologies and social change, shape the experience of health, illness and care for people living in Australia and their communities.
  • Understand lived experience of health and illness, and of caring (informally or in a professional capacity) for those experiencing illness or disability, in order to contribute towards greater equity in health, more inclusive health and social care practices, and support for people to make informed decisions about their health and healthcare.
  • Inform and contribute to the efforts of informal carers, clinicians, social care practitioners and policymakers to build their capacity for effective interaction with health service users, and development of more equitable and better quality health and social care for all Australian residents.

These aims will be achieved through a range of knowledge translation co-design activities, utilising HSM’s long-established program research underpinning Healthtalk Australia (see below), a unique online audio-visual database of health and illness experiences and related resources.

Key research areas

Health & Illness, Mind & Body

This well-established body of work explores lived experiences of mental and physical health and illness beyond the physiological processes that are the focus of biomedical science. It has two major themes:

  • exploring subjective accounts of experiences which are often pathologized or stigmatized, including experiences of receiving psychiatric diagnoses and ‘addiction’.
  • exploring subjective accounts of experiences of living with long term physical illness or health-related conditions, including cancer and reproductive health, and associated emotional distress.

Narrative and phenomenological research approaches are used to investigate how uncertainties surrounding experiences of living with psychiatric diagnoses, disability, and long-term physical illness or health conditions impact on and change people’s values, habits, beliefs, relationships, bodies, sense of self, and their perception of the world, with the aim of improving public understandings of these experiences. Investigation of the experiences of informal carers and health and social care practitioners is an integral part of Health & Illness, Body & Mind research.

Projects within the Health & Illness, Mind & Body Key Research Area foster interdisciplinary and cross-sector collaborations as well as the participation of people with lived experiences of health and illness and informal carers.

Healthtalk Australia

Healthtalk Australia is a unique online repository of research-based health and illness experiences presented in an array of formats – film, audio and text. Individual research projects within the HSM Hub’s research themes underpin development of a series of online resources, each centred on a different health or illness experience. With the aim of supporting people experiencing illness and informal carers, educating health and social care practitioners, and informing policymakers, Healthtalk Australia’s online resources form a key plank of HSM’s research translation strategy.

As a member of DIPEX International (along with 18 other universities or research institutions across Asia, Europe, North America and the Middle East), Healthtalk Australia is part of an interdisciplinary, international collaboration of researchers utilising narrative methods to explore health and illness experiences to create publicly available online resources and contribute to scholarly debates on patient-centred perspectives on health and illness.

Ageing well in health and illness

Globally, life expectancy continues to rise. This research theme focuses on supporting the fundamental changes to health and social care systems required to address the needs of ageing populations, including these living with dementia. Work within the Ageing well in health and illness Key Research Area will explore how improvements to our physical and social environments and better use of technology can support better quality of life for older people, both in relation to and beyond the health sector. This is an emerging area of work for the HSM Research Program and we invite researchers interested in these topics to contact us to explore potential collaborations.

Recent Publications


Book Chapters

Harris, A. (2018). Posthuman families, queerly In: Queering Families, Schooling Publics: Keywords, Routledge, New York, United States

Lewis, T. (2018). (In Press) Aspiring differently: Households and the Consumption of Reality television In: The Indian Media Economy, Volume 2: Market Dynamics and Social Transactions, Oxford University Press India, New Delhi, India

Journal Articles

Knight, F., Kokanović, R., Ridge, D., Brophy, L., Hill, N., Johnston-Ataata, K., Herrman, H. (2018). Supported Decision-Making: The Expectations Held by People With Experience of Mental Illness In: Qualitative Health Research, 28,6, 1002 – 1015.

Stone, M., Kokanović, R. & Broom, A. (2018). Care(less) encounters: early maternal distress and the haunted clinic In: Subjectivity, 1 – 20


Book Chapters

Harris, A. (2017). Ethnocinema and Video-Based Research In: Handbook of Arts-Based Research, Guilford Publications, New York, United States

Harris, A.,Jones, S. (2017). Feeling fear, feeling queer: the peril and potential of queer terror In: Qualitative Inquiry, 23, 561 – 568

Harris, A.,Jones, S.,Faulkner, S.,Brook, E. (2017). What have we learned? In: Queering Families, Schooling Publics, Routledge, New York, United States

Hjorth, L.,Kato, F. (2017). Keitai mizu: A mobile game reflection in a post 3/11 Tokyo, Japan In: Green Asia: Ecocultures, Sustainable Lifestyles, and Ethical Consumption, Routledge, United Kingdom

Hjorth, L. (2017). The afterlife of intimacy: Selfies, loss, and intimate publics In: Between the Public and Private in Mobile Communication, Routledge, London

Hjorth, L. (2017). Inscribing intimacy: Conceptual frames for understanding mobile media affect In: Between the Public and Private in Mobile Communication, Routledge, London

Ingrid, R.,Hjorth, L.,Strengers, Y.,Balmford, W. (2017). Careful surveillance at play: Human-animal relations and mobile media in the home In: Refiguring Techniques in Digital Visual Research, Springer, London, UK

Lewis, T. (2017). Sustainability, lifestyle and consumption in Asia In: Green Asia: Ecocultures, Sustainable Lifestyles, and Ethical Consumption, Taylor and Francis, United Kingdom

Conference Papers

Khot, R.,Aggarwal, D.,Pennings, R.,Hjorth, L.,Mueller, F. (2017). EdiPulse: Investigating a Playful Approach to Self-monitoring through 3D Printed Chocolate Treats In: Proceedings of the 2017 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, Denver, Canada, 6-11 May 2017

Journal Articles

De Bruin, L.,Harris, A. (2017). Fostering creative ecologies in Australasian secondary schoolsIn: Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 42, 23 – 43

Dilkes-Frayne, ..,Fraser, S.,Pienaar, K.,Kokanovic, R. (2017). Iterating ‘addiction’: Residential relocation and the spatio-temporal production of alcohol and other drug consumption patternsIn: International Journal of Drug Policy, 44, 164 – 173

Flore, J. (2017). Intimate tablets: digital advocacy and post-feminist pharmaceuticals In: Feminist Media Studies, , 1 – 16

Flore, J. (2017). Pharmaceutical intimacy: Managing female sexuality through Addyi In: Sexualities, , 1 – 18

Fraser, S.,Pienaar, K.,Dilkes-Frayne, .,Moore, D.,Kokanovic, R.,Treloar, C.,Dunlop, A. (2017). Addiction stigma and the biopolitics of liberal modernity: A qualitative analysis In: International Journal of Drug Policy, 44, 192 – 201

Glover, A.,Strengers, Y.,Lewis, T. (2017). The unsustainability of academic aeromobility in Australian universities In: Sustainability: Science, Practice and Policy, 13, 1 – 12

Harris, A.,Davis, S.,Snepvangers, K.,De Bruin, L. (2017). Creative formats, creative futures In: Departures in Critical Qualitative Research, 6, 48 – 61

Kokanovic, R.,Flore, J. (2017). Subjectivity and illness narratives In: Subjectivity, 10, 329 – 339

Kokanovic, R.,Stone, M. (2017). (In Press) Listening to what cannot be said: Broken narratives and the lived body In: Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, , 1 – 12

Pienaar, K.,Moore, D.,Fraser, S.,Kokanovic, R.,Treloar, C.,Dilkes-Frayne, . (2017). Diffracting addicting binaries: An analysis of personal accounts of alcohol and other drug ‘addiction In: Health, 21, 519 – 537

Ridge, D.,Broom, A.,Kokanovic, R.,Ziebland, S.,Hill, N. (2017). Depression at work, authenticity in question: Experiencing, concealing and revealing In: Health, , 1 – 18

Pink, S.,Hjorth, L.,Horst, H.,Nettheim, J.,Bell, G. (2017). Digital work and play: Mobile technologies and new ways of feeling at home In: European Journal of Cultural Studies, , 1 – 13

Wilson, P.,Green, D.,Caeyenberghs, K.,Steenbergen, B.,Duckworth, J. (2016). Integrating New Technologies into the Treatment of CP and DCD In: Current Developmental Disorders Reports, 3, 138 – 151



Harris, A. (2016). Creativity and education, Palgrave Macmillan, United Kingdom

Harris, A.,Jones, S. (2016). Writing for performance, Sense, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Harwood, V.,Hickey-Moody, A.,McMahon, S.,O’Shea, S. (2016). The Politics of Widening Participation and University Access for Young People, Routledge, Abingdon, United Kingdom

Lewis, T.,Martin, F.,Sun, W. (2016). Telemodernities: Television and transforming lives in Asia, Duke University Press, Durham, North Carolina, United States

Book Chapters

Harris, A.,Jones, S. (2016). Genderfication In: Critical Concepts in Queer Studies and Education, Springer, New York, United States

Hickey-Moody, A.,Harwood, V.,McMahon, S. (2016). Feeling futures: the embodied imagination and intensive time In: Imagination for Inclusion: Diverse contexts of educational practice, Routledge, New York, United States

Hjorth, L.,Richardson, I. (2016). Mobile games and ambient play In: Social, Casual and Mobile Games: The Changing Gaming Landscape, Bloomsbury Publishing, United States

Hjorth, L. (2016). Narratives of Ambient Play: Camera Phone Practices in Urban Cartographies In: Citizen’s Right to the Digital City, Springer, Singapore

Hjorth, L.,Balmford, W.,Greenfield, S.,Gaspard, L.,Naseem, A.,Penney, T. (2016). The art of play: ethnography and playful interventions with young people In: The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography, Routledge, New York City, United States.

Hjorth, L.,Wong, J. (2016). Media and mobilities in Australia: A case study of Southeast Asian international students’ media use for well-being In: The Asia Pacific in the Age of Transnational Mobility, Anthem Press, London, United Kingdom2017

Lewis, T. (2016). Ethical consumers and sustainability citizenship In: Sustainability Citizenship in Cities: Theory and Practice, Routledge, Abingdon, United Kingdom

Lewis, T. (2016). Spirited publics? Post-secularism, enchantment and enterprise on Indian television In: Contemporary Publics: Shifting Boundaries in New Media, Technology and Culture, Palgrave Macmillan UK, London, UK

Martin, F.,Lewis, T. (2016). Lifestyle Media in Asia: Consumption, Aspiration and Identity In: Lifestyle Media in Asia, Routledge, London, United Kingdom

Conference Papers

Muscat, A.,Goddard, W.,Duckworth, J.,Holopainen, J. (2016). First-Person Walkers: understanding the Walker experience through four design themes In: Proceedings of the First International Joint Conference of DiGRA and FDG, Dundee, Scotland, 1-6 August 2016

Journal Articles

Flore, J. (2016). The problem of sexual imbalance and techniques of the self in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders In: History of Psychiatry, 27, 320 – 335

Hickey-Moody, A. (2016). Being different in public In: Continuum, 30, 531 – 541

Hickey-Moody, A. (2016). Youth agency and adult influence: A critical revision of little publicsIn: Review of Education, Pedagogy, and Cultural Studies, 38, 58 – 72

Hickey-Moody, A.,Palmer, H.,Sayers, E. (2016). Diffractive pedagogies: dancing across new materialist imaginaries In: Gender and Education, 28, 213 – 229

Hickey-Moody, A. (2016). Students that just hate school wouldn’t go’: educationally disengaged and disadvantaged young people’s talk about university education In: British Journal of Sociology of Education, 37, 1109 – 1128

Jones, S.,Harris, A. (2016). Traveling skin: A cartography of the body In: Liminalities: A Journal of Performance Studies, 12, 1 – 27

Lewis, T. (2016). Inside out: A diasporic narrative In: Cultural Studies Review, 22, 287 – 293

Lewis, T. (2016). Adventures in love, risk and romance: Navigating post-traditional social relations on Indian dating shows In: European Journal of Cultural Studies, 20, 56 – 71

Stone, M.,Kokanovic, R. (2016). “Halfway towards recovery”: Rehabilitating the relational self in narratives of postnatal depression In: Social Science and Medicine, 163, 98 – 106

Walia, S.,Balendhran, S.,Ahmed, T.,Singh, M.,El-Badawi, C.,Brennan, M.,Weerathunge, P.,Karim, M.,rahman, F.,Rassell, A.,Duckworth, J.,Ramanathan, R.,Collis, G.,Lobo, C.,Toth, M.,Kotsakidis, J.,Weber, B.,Fuhrer, M.,Dominguez-Vera, J.,Spencer, M.,Aharonovich, I.,Sriram, S.,Bhaskaran, M.,Bansal, V. (2017). (In Press) Ambient protection of few-layer black phosphorus via sequestration of reactive oxygen species In: Advanced Materials, , 1 – 8

Research Reports

Lewis, T.,Albert, V.,Hunter, S. (2016). Environmental equity: building policy and practice for the EPA, Victoria In: Environment Protection Authority Victoria Melbourne, Australia


Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families

An exploration of the emotional experiences of becoming a parent in Australia, from conception through to early parenthood, in all kinds of families.

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Online Alcohol and Other Drug Counselling Encounters & Experiences

Interdisciplinary research program exploring client experiences of online alcohol and other drug counselling

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The Intersection of Cancer & Culture: A Sociological Study

The purpose of this study is to examine what living with cancer means for individuals, communities and families from a migrant background

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Early Menopause: Perspectives of women and health professionals

A project exploring the experiences of women with early menopause and the perspectives of health professionals who care for women with this condition.

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Mental Health and Supported Decision Making: Lived Experience and Family Carers’ Stories

A research project investigating the lived experience of severe mental health problems and supported decision-making (SDM) from multiple perspectives.

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Key People


Professor Renata Kokanovic

Professor Renata Kokanovic

Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow

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Dr Kate Johnston-Ataata

Dr Kate Johnston-Ataata

Research Fellow

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Dr Jacinthe Flore

Dr Jacinthe Flore


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Professor Larissa Hjorth

Professor Larissa Hjorth


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Professor Tania Lewis

Professor Tania Lewis

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Associate Professor Anne Harris

Associate Professor Anne Harris

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Professor Anna Hickey-Moody

Professor Anna Hickey-Moody

Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow

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Dr Jonathan Duckworth

Dr Jonathan Duckworth

Senior Lecturer

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Higher Degree Research Students

Collaborators within RMIT

  • Prof Stuart Thomas
  • Dr Cameron Duff
  • Professor Tania Lewis
  • Nicholas Hill

Key Industry Partners

  • Victorian Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS)
  • Mind Australia
  • Wellways
  • Neami National
  • Victorian Mental Illness Awareness Council,
  • Tandem Carers
  • beyondblue
  • National Breast Cancer Foundation
  • Monash Health
  • Women’s Health Victoria
  • Endocrine Society of Australia
  • Breast Cancer Network Australia
  • Healthdirect Australia
  • Australasian Menopause Society
  • Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital Foundation
  • Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital
  • Liverpool Hospital
  • South Eastern Sydney Local Health District

External Collaborators

  • Professor Helen Herrman
  • Professor Bernadette McSherry
  • Associate Professor Lisa Brophy
  • Dr Ana Dragojlovic
  • Professor Dan Lubman
  • Dr Adrian Carter
  • Dr Michael Savic
  • Dr Ella Dilkes-Frayne
  • Professor Alex Broom
  • Associate Professor Lorraine Smith
  • Dr Meredith Stone
  • Professor Carolyn Stevens
  • Associate Professor Paula Michaels
  • Professor Loretta Baldassar
  • Dr Emma Kirby
  • Dr Sophie Lewis
  • Professor Helena Teede
  • Associate Professor Amanda Vincent
  • Dr Jacqui Boyle
  • Professor Martha Hickey
  • Professor Damien Ridge
  • Professor Sue Ziebland
  • Dr Fauzia Knight      

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