Robyn McDermott is Professor of Public Health Medicine at the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention James Cook University, Senior Clinical Research Fellow (Queensland),  NHMRC Practitioner Fellow and Professor of Public Health in the School of Population Health (UniSA) and the Sansom Institute for Health Research (South Australia).

Robyn previously served as Professor of Public Health Medicine at JCU in Cairns from 2002-4 and prior to that, as Medical Epidemiologist in the Cairns Tropical Public Health Unit from 1995. She has been a Research Fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research in the NT and spent many years working as a clinician and health services manager in rural and remote Australia, and in refugee health in South East Asia in the 1980’s and 90’s.

From 2000 to 2004 she served as Vice President, then President of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine and numerous advisory committees to state and commonwealth governments. Robyn has worked as a consultant for WHO, AusAID, the World Bank and State and Commonwealth governments and others, in health services and Public Health.  Her research interests are in chronic disease epidemiology, clinical quality improvement and disease prevention. She has chaired NHMRC Grant Review Panels for Projects, Fellowships and Capacity Building Grants and has had continuous NHMRC funding as lead investigator since 1998, totalling more than $12 million.

Robyn has co-ordinated and taught Masters level courses in Epidemiology and Health Economics while in the Northern Territory, and a new masters course in chronic disease and public health at James Cook University, as well as contributing to undergraduate teaching on the new JCU Medical Course.

Qualifications: MBBS University of Sydney 1978, FAFPHM The Royal Australasian College of Physicians 1990,MPH Harvard University 1993, PhD University of Sydney 2002

  • Robyn's research interests include the epidemiology of chronic disease and health transition, and how primary health care can improve outcomes in resource-poor settings. Her work on improving diabetes care systems in remote far north Queensland resulted in major changes to policy and practice, and was recognised by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) as one of the “best 10” projects in 2006 More recently her focus has been the effective translation of research evidence into clinical and public health practice, with attention to systems issues including funding models, policy environment, information systems, workforce development and quality improvement in primary care settings Although coming late to the formal research world, she has earned more than $7 million in NHMRC research grant funding as lead investigator and more than $8million as co-investigator.
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives

These are the most recent publications associated with this author. To see a detailed profile of all publications stored at JCU, visit ResearchOnline@JCU. Hover over Altmetrics badges to see social impact.

Journal Articles

ResearchOnline@JCU stores 128+ research outputs authored by Prof Robyn McDermott from 2002 onwards.

Current Funding

Current and recent Research Funding to JCU is shown by funding source and project.

National Health & Medical Research Council - Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Programme

Implementation and evaluation of an innovative student-led rehabilitation and lifestyle service in Northern Australia for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with chronic and disabling conditions: A pilot study.

Indicative Funding
$45,433 (administered by Menzies School of Health Research)
This project will pilot a student-led rehabilitation and lifestyle service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in Napranum and Weipa in partnership with Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service (TCHHS) and Apunipima Cape York Health Council (ACYC). A sequential mixed methodology will be used to evaluate the service from stakeholders' perspectives: participants, allied health students, Aboriginal and allied health workforce and collaborating organisations. To privilege the voices of Aboriginal people, Indigenous methodologies will be used. This project will provide a service for Napranum and Wei pa communities and a service model for other remote communities across Northern Australia.
Alice Cairns, Robyn McDermott, Ruth Barker, Louise Maple-Brown, Beth Armstrong and Lynore Geia in collaboration with Sabina Knight and Catrina Felton-Busch (Division of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, College of Healthcare Sciences, Menzies School of Health Research and Edith Cowan University)
Rehabilitation; Lifestyle; Student; Allied Health; Indigenous; 2-Hydroxyethyl Cellulose

National Health & Medical Research Council - Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Programme

HOT NORTH - Indigenous Development and Traning Grant

Indicative Funding
$24,936 (administered by Menzies School of Health Research)
Michelle Dougan will undertake the role of Aboriginal Allied Health Assistant/Co-researcher for our HOT North pilot project titled 'Talking after Stroke'. The Indigenous Development and Training grant will support Michelle by enabling her to undertake a Certificate IV Allied Health Assistant (Speech Pathology and Physiotherapy), providing both course fees and backfill for her position at Wuchopperen. The grant will also enable Michelle to attend a forum in Darwin for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander co-researchers, access face-to-face training for her role no the pilot project and to attend key conferences (IAHA and Lowitja) to share findings.
Michelle Dougan, Ruth Barker, Kylie Stothers, Robyn McDermott, Anita Seinen, Natasha Barlow and Natalie Ciccone (Wuchopperen Aboriginal Health Service, College of Healthcare Sciences, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and Edith Cowan University)
Indigenous; Rehabilitation; Allied Health; Speech Pathology; Stroke; Physiotherapy

National Health & Medical Research Council - Northern Australia Tropical Disease Collaborative Research Programme

HOT NORTH PILOT PROJECTS - RND 4 - Translation of a culturally responsive stroke rehabilitation service for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into a real-world setting in northern Australia: a hybrid effectiveness implementation study

Indicative Funding
$35,290 (administered by Menzies School of Health Research)
An evidence-based communication intervention will be implemented in the real world setting at Wuchopperen Health Services (WHS) in Cairns. Eight stroke survivors will participate in 24 sessions across a 12-week period, delivered by a speech pathologist in partnership with an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Allied Health Assistant (AHA). Individually tailored activities will be undertaken within a 'yarning' framework, with family involvement, and culturally relevant resources. Change in everyday communication and barriers and enablers to implementation will be assessed. This study will prepare for full-scale implementation of the service model and reduce health disadvantage for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.
Ruth Barker, Kylie Stothers, Robyn McDermott, Natalie Ciccone, Jacqueline Mein, Anita Seinen, Michelle Dougan and Natasha Barlow in collaboration with Beth Armstrong, Deborah Hersh, Juli Coffin, Michael Adams, Anne Lowell, Elaine Maypilama, Renae Moore, Frances Cochrane and Lauren King Koi (College of Healthcare Sciences, Indigenous Allied Health Australia, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Edith Cowan University, Wuchopperen Aboriginal Health Service and Charles Darwin University)
Rehabilitation; communication; Allied Health; Partnership; aboriginal and torres strait islander

National Health & Medical Research Council - Project Grant

Building a simulation model to improve cardiovascular disease risk prediction and treatment for indigenous Australians

Indicative Funding
$235,000 over 3 years (administered by University of Melbourne)
This project will use a large linked cohort of 2800 Indigenous adults from north Queensland remote communities which looks at reasons for the excess cardiovascular risk in this group. The aim is to get better measures of risk of heart disease and premature death which can be done by primary health care services for better early detection and better management and survival.
Philip Clarke, Robyn McDermott, Kerry Arabena, Kenny Lawson, Andrew Hayen, Kerin O'Dea and Wendy Hoy (The University of Melbourne, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, University of South Australia and The University of Queensland)
Cardiovascular Diseases; Indigenous Health; Primary Health Care

Australian Research Council - Special Research Initiatives Scheme

Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine

Indicative Funding
$42,000,000 over 4 years
AITHM intends to build Australian research capacity in tropical health and biomedical sciences, to improve national capacity to identify risks to health security and biosecurity from re-emerging infectious diseases prevalent in tropical countries, and to undertake research which targets improvements in health outcomes and service delivery for regional, remote, and under-served communities in tropical Australia. This requires expansion of tropically based research facilities, the researcher skill base, and research programs.
Louis Schofield, Maxine Whittaker, Robyn McDermott and Alex Loukas (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Tropical Health and Medicine; Northern Australia

Queensland Health - Office of Health and Medical Research - Research Fellowships

Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Care

Indicative Funding
$4,250,000 over 5 years
The Centre will work with clinical and community-level health promotion workers to improve clinical systems for the prevention and care of high risk adults and children with diabetes and other chronic disease in north Queensland rural and remote communities. The Centre will promote high calibre research in clinical epidemiology and quality improvement in prevention and care of chronic conditions.
Robyn McDermott (Division of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Chronic disease; Indigenous Health; Clinical Quality Improvement

Far North Queensland Hospital Foundation - Research Grant

Culturally-based physical activity interventions in Indigenous populations

Indicative Funding
Physical inactivity is significantly higher among Indigenous populations and is a strong predictor for chronic disease which affects Indigenous people disproportionately. The aim of this study is to evaluate a culturally tailored 8 week physical activity intervention among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in rural communities. The objectives will be to measure overall levels of physical activity and step counts, metabolic markers, perceived quality of life and other health behaviours and outcomes before, immediately and 1 weeks after the intervention. As well, a cost benefit analysis will be conducted to determine if the project was 'value for money'.
Ashleigh Sushames, Klaus Gebel and Robyn McDermott (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Indigenous; Chronic Disease; Health Promotion; Health; Physical Activity

Heart Foundation - Collaboration and Exchange Award

To visit the banting & Best Diabetes Centre at the University of Toronto (forms part of project titled "Improving Diabetes Care and Management in Torres Strait Remote Primary Health Care"

Indicative Funding
I propose a three weeks field trip to the Banting & Best Diabetes Centre at the University of Toronto, Canada. The Banting & Best Diabetes Centre prides its centre as Canada's leading centre of excellence for innovation in diabetes, research. Education and clinical care. This opportunity to visit the University of Toronto will not only directly help my research to benefit patients in the Torres Strait region but will also enhance collaborations between our institutions, enable sharing of knowledge, and build capacity for high quality diabetes research in Australia and globally. My visit to the University of Toronto will help the formation of new, and strengthening of existing, collaborations between the Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention (Cairns, Australia), the Banting & Best Diabetes Centre (Toronto, USA), Behavioural Diabetes Centre and Taking Control of Your Diabetes Organisation (San Diego, USA) and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (Phoenix, USA)
Sean Taylor and Robyn McDermott (College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)

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These Higher Degree Research projects are either current or by students who have completed their studies within the past 5 years at JCU. Linked titles show theses available within ResearchOnline@JCU.

  • Older Persons enablement and rehabilitation for complex health conditions: OPEN ARCH Study (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Obesity in Pregnancy (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Analysis of Hookworm Infection-Induced Changes in the Intestinal Microbiome of People at Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Health Care Homes in Cairns: a mixed methods study exploring the experience of adults living with chronic conditions to inform the new model of primary health care (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Features of Primary Health Care Services in Remote Indigenous Communities that Contribute to Hospital Avoidance for Ambulatory Sensitive Chronic Conditions (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • So Like your Mum! Is the health of Mothers in Far North Queensland Reflected in the Nutrition and Growth of their Children in Early Life? (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)
  • Building a Simulation Model to Improve Cardiovascular Disease Risk Prediction and Treatment for Indigenous Australians (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM)

The map shows research collaborations by institution from the past 7 years.
Note: Map points are indicative of the countries or states that institutions are associated with.

  • 5+ collaborations
  • 4 collaborations
  • 3 collaborations
  • 2 collaborations
  • 1 collaboration
  • Indicates the Tropics (Torrid Zone)

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