Associate Professor Jo-An Atkinson
Associate Professor Atkinson leads the evidence synthesis and simulation work of the Prevention Centre. She has more than 15 years’ experience in health service delivery and clinical research in Australia, as well as in public health operational research to inform strategy for disease control and elimination in the Asia-Pacific region. This experience has included the use of quantitative, qualitative and participatory research methodologies.
Her research interests have included exploring human behavioural and system-level influences on intervention effectiveness; exploring acceptability of new and existing technologies for disease prevention; and the design of strategies for community engagement in prevention initiatives.
She is leading a program of work, in partnership with health departments, using simulation modelling methods as evidence synthesis and decision-support tools to inform policy and practice for the prevention of complex public health problems.
- Simulation modelling of alcohol consumption and the effectiveness of harm-reduction policies
- Gestational diabetes through a systems science lens
- Simulation modelling for the prevention of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in NSW
- Simulation modelling to inform strategic planning for achieving the NSW Premier’s Priority for childhood overweight and obesity
- Harnessing big data and dynamic simulation modelling to tackle child and adolescent overweight and obesity and unsustainable healthcare expenditure in AustraliaDr Atkinson is also involved in the work of the Synthesis Capacity.
Impact case studies
Describe your role in one or two sentences: I’m playing a lead role in making readily available what is known about prevention, through scans, reviews of research and program experience and consensus statements. I’m also developing new ways to systematically capture and analyse practice knowledge and to synthesise evidence from many sources.
I wanted to work for the Prevention Centre because… it is an exciting, innovative and worthwhile endeavour. My role combines my interests in disease prevention, systems approaches, evidence-informed policy, and developing new methods for evidence synthesis.
The best part of my role is… the opportunity to push the boundaries of orthodox approaches to research and policy making for complex public health problems. I also enjoy collaborating with colleagues and partners who have diverse expertise.
The most challenging part is… working out how best to explain the Prevention Centre’s work to different audiences.
At work I am always learning that … change takes time and persistence.
Before the Prevention Centre, my most memorable work was … community engagement and research to prevent infectious disease in post-conflict nations such as Solomon Islands and Timor-Leste.
Most people don’t know that I … have Sicilian heritage.
When I’m not at work I most enjoy … cooking old Sicilian recipes, entertaining, playing Briscola (an Italian card game), single malts and conversation in front of a log fire on a cold evening, and coffee and papers on a Sunday morning.
I try to stay healthy by … walking to work every day.