Dr Sarah Larkins is an academic general practitioner and Associate Dean, Research in the College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University.  Sarah has particular skills and experience in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health research and health services and workforce research and is an internationally recognised expert in social accountability in health professional education. Sarah is also Co-Director of the Anton Breinl Research Centre for Health Systems Strengthening, a centre of the Australian Institute of Tropical Health and Medicine.

To date, Sarah has over 95 published peer-reviewed journal articles with an h-index of 21, more than 1300 citations and well over $10m in grant funding.  This includes three current NHMRC grants (2 as CI A), investigating participatory strategies to strengthen quality improvement in Indigenous primary health care centres and a DFAT grant on strengthening implementation research capacity for surveillance and response in the Pacific. She currently supervises 19 students at HDR level. 

Sarah's particular focus is on collaborating to improve equity in health care services for underserved populations, particularly rural, remote, Indigenous and tropical populations, and on training a health workforce with appropriate knowledge, attitudes and skills for this purpose.  She is a past Director, Townsville Mackay Medicare Local and past member of  the World Health Organisation Technical Working Group on Health Workforce Education Assessment Tools and the National Technical Advisory Group for Health Workforce Australia. 

  • MD1020: Introduction to Integrated Medical Studies Part 2 of 2 (Level 1; TSV)
  • MD2011: Integrated Human System Pathophysiology Part 1 of 2 (Level 2; TSV)
  • MD6010: Advanced Clinical Medicine Part 1 of 3 (Level 6; TSV)
  • MD6020: Advanced Clinical Medicine Part 2 of 3 (Level 6; TSV)
  • MD6030: Advanced Clinical Medicine Part 3 of 3 (Level 6; TSV)
  • MD8001: Foundations of Rural and Remote Medicine (Level 8; TSV)
  • Health systems strengthening
  • Rural health workforce
  • Socially accountable health professional education
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health
  • Primary health care
  • Maternal and child health
  • Research methods
  • General Practice
  • Sociology of health care and social determinants of health
  • 2014 to present - Associate Dean, Research, College of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2012 to present - Director of Research and Postgraduate Education, School of Medicine and Dentistry, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2011 to present - Associate Professor, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2007 to present - General Practitioner, Health and Wellbeing North Ward (Townsville)
  • 2010 to 2012 - School of Medicine and Dentistry Honours coordinator, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 2008 to 2010 - Senior Lecturer, James Cook University (Townsville)
  • 1998 to 2007 - General Practitioner, Townsville Aboriginal and Islander Health Services (Townsville)
Research Disciplines
Socio-Economic Objectives
  • 2013 - Office of Learning and Teaching National Program Award. JCU MBBS Program in the category "Widening Participation"
  • 2012 - Finalist, Ron Harden Innovation in Medical Education International Award – Presented for THEnet on development and piloting of the common evaluation framework
  • 2011 - Co-author of Australian Family Physician best research paper for 2011. Cheffins T, Spillman M, Larkins S Heal C (2011) “Recommending vaccination: General practice intervention with new parents” Australian Family Physician 40 (6) 437-439
  • 2003 - Royal Australian College of General Practitioners National Registrar Research Prize
  • 2003 - MBBS (Dean's Honour List)
  • 1989 - Bachelor of Medical Science Prize, University of Melbourne, BMedSci
  • 2009 to 2011 - 2009 Brisbane Initiative – 8 emerging Primary Health Care Research Leaders selected from around the world for 3 year program of mentoring and support with residential periods in Oxford, UK.
  • 2003 to 2007 - National Health and Medical Research Council Public Health Postgraduate PhD Scholarship
  • 2012 - Graduate, Australian Institute of Company Directors course
  • 2004 - FARGP
  • 2004 - Fellow, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • 2013 - Queensland Representative , Australian Association of Academic Primary Care Executive
  • 2012 - Health Workforce Australia, National Technical Advisory Group
  • 2003 to 2005 - National Research Advisory Board, Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute
  • 2013 - "Strength of Mind: 125 years of women in medicine". Invited to be one of 60 women graduates of University of Melbourne Medical School over the last 125 years featured in exhibition and book.
  • 2011 - Board Member, Townsville Mackay Medicare Local
  • 2008 - PhD
  • 2000 - MPH&TM

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 113+ research outputs authored by Prof Sarah Larkins from 1990 onwards.

Current Funding

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

National Health & Medical Research Council - Project Grant

Women's Action for Mums and Bubs (WOMB): A pragmatic trial of participatory women's groups to improve Indigenous maternal and child health

Indicative Funding
$1,786,415 over 5 years
There is strong evidence elsewhere that involving community women in decision-making about strategies to improve the health of mothers and babies is a cheap and effective way of improving health. The WOMB study tests whether community women's groups improve the quality of maternal and child health care and outcomes in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, the cost-effectiveness and mechanism of action.
Sarah Larkins, Judy Taylor, Yvonne Cadet-James, Ross Baille, Jane Farmer, N Passey, Catrina Felton-Busch, V Matthews, Emily Callander and Rebecca Evans in collaboration with Priscilla Page, J Kelly, Adrian Esterman, Merrick Zwarenstein, Robyn Preston, Karen Carlisle, Lynore Geia, Elaine Williams and N Turner (College of Medicine & Dentistry, Indigenous Education & Research Centre, The University of Sydney, Swinburne University of Technology, Division of Tropical Health & Medicine, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, University of Adelaide, The University of Western Ontario, College of Healthcare Sciences, NT Department of Health & Community Services and Menzies School of Health Research)
Aboriginal Health; Torres Strait Islander health; Maternal & Child Health; Primary Health Care; Quality Improvement; Participatory women's groups; Community Participation

National Health & Medical Research Council - Partnership Projects

Implementation of quality improvement in Indigenous primary health care: Leveraging Effective Ambulatory Practices (LEAP)

Indicative Funding
$1,144,570 over 4 years, in partnership with North Queensland Primary Health Network ($315,000 over 3 yrs); Northern Territory Department of Health, Top End Health ($20,000 over 3 yrs); Northern Territory Primary Health Network (NTPHN) ($38,700 over 3 yrs) and Western Queensland Primary Health Network (WQPHN) ($210,000 over 3 yrs)
Despite increased policy attention and funding, not all primary healthcare (PHC) services for Indigenous Australians show the desired improvements in quality of care. Practices which provide PHC services are complex systems and emerging evidence indicates many things affect quality improvement. There remains a knowledge gap regarding what is required for Indigenous PHCs to succeed in improving the quality of their services and, subsequently, health outcomes for their patients. This project will capitalise on emerging research and existing strong partnerships to provide a solid evidence base for interventions to improve quality of priority health services in Indigenous PHC settings.
Sarah Larkins, Ross Baille, Catrina Felton-Busch, Paul Burgess, Emma McBryde, Kerry Copley, Rebecca Evans, V Matthews and Karen Carlisle in collaboration with Judy Taylor, Karla Canuto, Donald Whaleboat, S Thompson, Christine Connors and Roderick Wright (College of Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Sydney, Division of Tropical Health & Medicine, Department of Health (NT), Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, Aboriginal Medical Service, Apunipima Cape York Health Council, The University of Western Australia and Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council)
Learning community; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander; Primary Health Care; Quality Improvement

Department of Health - Contract Research

National Research Project on Remote Radiology Assessment Service Delivery

Indicative Funding
$378,906 over 3 years
This project will investigate outcomes of the BreastScreen Australia remote radiology assessment trial at sites through9out Australia. Engaging a remote radiologist may assist with overcoming many challenges associated with providing health services in a regional, rural or remote location. This project seeks to ensure that the alternative model of service delivery is appropriate for consumers, evidence-based and safe. Specifically, this project will assess how the new remote radiology model affects: - Patient safety - Patient acceptability - Staff acceptability of new model of service provision - The safe, efficient organisation of BreastScreen services
Sarah Larkins, Rebecca Evans, Robyn Preston, Emily Callander, Sabe Sabesan, Leila Murison, Karen Johnston and Nicole Bates (College of Medicine & Dentistry, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and Townsville Hospital and Health Service)
rural health services; breast cancer screening; Telehealth; Radiology; Health Workforce

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) - Tropical Disease Research Regional Collaboration Initiative

Tropical partnerships to strengthen health systems responses to infectious diseases threats

Indicative Funding
$2,000,000 over 2 years
The Asia Pacific Region is facing frequent threats from emerging and existing infectious diseases. The capacity to mount a timely effective response is compromised in poorly functioning health systems seen in parts of the region. The resulting vulnerability affects the whole region, including Australia. Strengthening capacity to prepare and respond to these threats is thus a shared responsibility. This proposal aims to tackle the problem through collaboration with institutions, researchers and policy makers across the region, building on long held partnerships.
Emma McBryde, Sarah Larkins, Archie Clements, Barend (Ben) Marais, Peter Siba, Maxine Whittaker, Tom Burkot, David MacLaren, George Milne and Richard Speare (Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Medicine & Dentistry, Australian National University, The University of Sydney, Institute of Medical Research (PNG), College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences and The University of Western Australia)
Health system strengthening; Infectious Diseases; Epidemiology; Disease Surveillance

Western Queensland Primary Care Collaborative Limited - Contract Research

Diabetes Collaborative Evaluation Project

Indicative Funding
The diabetes collaborative is a Continuous quality Improvement (CQI) approach to change that aims to improve health outcomes for patients diagnosed with Diabetes. It involves the introduction of a team-based, sustainable approach to learning whilst providing a sound understanding and application of quality improvement methodology and skills. This project aims to evaluate the implementation and outcomes of the WQPHN diabetes collaborative. Expected outcomes of the equation will be a greater understanding of the process of implementation and any changes within participant health services as a result of the collaborative. Evaluation of the program in the rural and remote context of WQPHN will inform on feasibility and effectiveness of this approach.
Sarah Larkins, Karen Carlisle, Sabina Knight, Rebecca Evans, Robyn Preston and Karen Johnston (College of Medicine & Dentistry, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine and Division of Tropical Health & Medicine)
Quality Improvement Approach; Primary Health Care; Diabetes

Cancer Council NSW - Strategic Research Partnership Grant

Identifying the Out of Pocket costs of cancer care and the impact on healthcare access and patient outcomes - STREP Ca-CindaA

Indicative Funding
$121,160 (administered by Menzies School of Health Research)
AIM 1: Quantify the out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure of individuals who are diagnosed with cancer and compare it with their clinical outcomes. This will be done by building Australia?s first model of the out-of-pocket healthcare expenditure of cancer patients using administrative data. AIM 2: Identify the impact of out-of-pocket costs on decisions about health care utilisation. This qualitative research component will be undertaken, which aims to explore and explain how out-of-pocket costs (both anticipated and unanticipated) affect the health seeking decisions and behaviours of cancer patients and their families.
Sabe Sabesan, Emily Callander, Sarah Larkins and Stephanie Topp (College of Medicine & Dentistry, Australian Institute of Tropical Health & Medicine, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
Health Economics; Patient costs; Cancer; Indigenous; Rural Health; Access

National Health & Medical Research Council - Partnership Projects

Population Health Planning for Rural Medicare Locals: evaluating a community participation method for delivering outcomes

Indicative Funding
$209,673 over 3 years (administered by SWIN)
The study, in six communities, will evaluate whether an evidenced based method of rural community participation from the UK translates to assist healthcare planning by Medicare Locals. Medicare Locals must involve local people in designing services to improve health, but lack methods to do this. The focus of the study is oral health, a major issue in rural areas. The study evaluates whether new services are designed and implemented and whether there is a change to health knowledge and behaviours.
Jane Farmer, Sarah Larkins, Mark Gussy, Amanda Kenny, Felicity Croker, Andrea Silva-Sanigorski, Jacinta Elston and Virginia Dickson-Swift in collaboration with Tracy Cheffins, Benedict Keith, Kate Silburn and Judy Taylor (La Trobe University, College of Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Melbourne, College of Public Health and Medical & Vet Sciences)
primary care; health planning; consumer participation; Rural Health; Oral Health; Priority Setting; access to dental care; Workforce Policy; Evaluation Studies

National Health & Medical Research Council - Project Grant

ABCD Case Studies Project: Quality improvement in Aboriginal primary health care: lessons from the best to better the rest.

Indicative Funding
$598,580 over 3 years
High performing primary health care (PHC) services are essential to "close the gap" in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health outcomes. Little previous research has investigated the contextual factors around a particular service that influence the success of quality improvement initiatives. We aim to transfer knowledge about the processes that facilitate the success of quality improvement initiatives in these services whilst building research and evaluation capacity in the services.
Sarah Larkins, Sandra Thompson, Jacinta Elston, Christine Connors and Komla Tsey in collaboration with Dallas Leon, Elizabeth Moore, Jacqueline Ward, Ross Bailie, Ru Kwedza, Tania Patrao and Veronica Matthews (College of Medicine & Dentistry, The University of Western Australia, College of Public Health, Medical & Vet Sciences, Department of Health (NT), Cairns Institute, Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, Aboriginal Medical Service, Menzies School of Health Research and Queensland Health)
Quality improvement; Aboriginal Health; Primary care; Health services research; Chronic diseases

Advisory Accreditation: I can be on your Advisory Panel as a Primary or Secondary Advisor.

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.

  • Exploring the Effectiveness and Sustainability, of a Systems Approach to Whole of Organisation Quality Management. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • The role of Academic Health Science Centres in driving translational research to improve the health of underserved populations worldwide (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Family planning service provision in Solomon Islands: A Case Study Approach (Masters , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Transition from Girlhood to Womanhood: Experiences of Adolescent Females in Papua New Guinea. (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • An exploration of the academic and early career professional practice for James Cook University medical students who have experienced academic difficulty (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • Implementation and evaluation of referral pathways for people with Ling Cancer in Townsville Health Service District (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • What is the economic and social impacts of Monash University, School of Rural Health - Bairnsdale, on the East Gippsland Community - Victoria (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Developing Local Models to Strengthen and Improve Capacity in Health Research in Melanesia (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • Enhancing Current International Human Research Ethics Guidelines by Including Indigenous Principles of Human Research Ethics. The Cases of the Pacific Island Nations of Fiji and Tonga. (PhD , Secondary Advisor/AM)
  • What InfluencesThe Provision Of Care To Periviable Babies In North Queensland And What Are The Consequences Of The Provision Of This Care. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • View of Older Residents in Rural Australia and Their Social Networks on Their Planned Approach to Healthy Ageing in Place: A Series of Case Studies. (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • An investigation of harm reduction approaches to alcohol use in context of chonic disease management (PhD , Secondary Advisor)
  • Birthing on Mornington Island: Culture, Identity and our Aspirations for the Future. (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Development and Implementation of a Breast Cancer Care Pathway in Townsville Region - A Study Looking into Feasibility, Governance, Patient Centred Outcomes and Economics (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Is There a Role for L-Arginine Supplementation in the Treatment of Diabetic Foot Ulcers in a North Queensland Community Diabetics Clinic? (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Experiences of dementia in Fiji: perspectives of people with dementia, caregivers, community and service providers (PhD , Primary Advisor/AM/Adv)
  • Health System Capacity to Provide Male Circumcision for HIV Prevention in Papua New Guinea. (PhD , Advisor Mentor)
  • International Approaches to Rural Medical Generalism (PhD , Advisor Mentor)

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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