SAHMRI. Inspired research, better health for all.
Research to Impact
7 April, 2020

SAHMRI Health Policy Centre

Research to Impact

Our Health Policy Centre conducts behavioural research, policy research, population monitoring and evaluation to inform public policy and population health interventions. The Centre conducts independent research and provides evidence syntheses and expert advisory consultancies. It actively engages with policy makers and non-government organisations for improved health outcomes.

Currently the Centre is providing an evidence synthesis function to inform South Australian and Australian Governments’ responses to COVID-19.

The majority of research by the Centre and its translation applies a public health approach with an aim to prevent chronic diseases including cancer, heart disease and diabetes.

The Centre has major ongoing programs of research in tobacco control and NHMRC funded research in sugary drinks and alcohol consumption.

The Centre also conducts research on patient reported outcome measures (PROMS) in breast cancer and prostate cancer, and also collaborates with the Central Coordination unit of the SA Clinical Cancer Registry.

Evidence Syntheses

Our Health Policy Centre undertakes evidence syntheses on various topics in relation to non-communicable diseases and more recently in relation to COVID-19.

Evidence synthesis is the process of bringing together information, and the interpretation of individual studies from a range of sources globally to inform decision making for a given topic. These syntheses provide a rigorous and transparent knowledge base for translating research into decisions associated with evidence-based policy briefings.

  • COVID-19 Evidence Synthesis

Chaired by Professor Caroline Miller, the SAHMRI Health Policy Centre is working in partnership with the Commission on Excellence and Innovation in Health, with the support of Health Translation SA, to deliver Evidence Syntheses to assist in state and national responses to COVID-19. The Evidence Synthesis team is also drawing upon specialist scientific and medical expertise in South Australia and Australia to perform this function.

Tobacco control

Our Health Policy Centre makes a substantial contribution to evidence-based policy and practice in tobacco control locally, nationally and internationally.

With tobacco smoking the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Australia it places a large burden on the South Australian community and health system, with latest figures putting health care expenditure attributable to smoking at approximately $0.5billion in South Australia.

The Centre’s evidence, research, policy briefings and publications influence South Australian tobacco control policy, practice and resource allocation. Evidence has been used to inform, underpin and evaluate all SA Tobacco Control policy for the past 20 years, including; smoke-free dining and workplace legislation; smoke-free hospitality venues and smoke-free cars; smoke-free health services and outdoor areas; the removal of tobacco displays at point of sale; e-cigarettes and the increase in tobacco licence fees.

Please see our key smoking statistics reports for latest smoking rates.  

Obesity/Sugar-sweetened beverages

Our Health Policy Centre actively contributes to policy reform on obesity prevention and conducts projects aimed at reducing over-consumption of highly processed food and beverages, with a focused program of work in sugar-sweetened beverages.

With overweight and obesity rates increasing this is a serious health problem. One quarter of children and adolescents and over two thirds of Australian adults are overweight or obese and therefore at higher risk of developing serious health problems including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, asthma and other respiratory problems, sleep disorders, periodontal and liver disease.

The Centre’s original research and publications contributed to Australian and New Zealand reform of both the Health Star rating system and added sugar labelling policy. Studies are projecting significant economic and health benefits through a comprehensive multi-faceted public health approach to obesity prevention, including taxes (or a health levy) on sugar-sweetened beverages, product reformulation, mandatory front of pack labelling, advertising regulations and quality, large scale public education campaigns. Work conducted by our Health Policy Centre will continue to inform the evidence to advance Australia’s progress in this significant area of health.


Our Health Policy Centre performs an evidence synthesis function and provides policy advice to SA Government in areas related to alcohol control. Alcohol places a large burden on our health system in Australia and plays a role in more than 200 different chronic health problems including cardiovascular disease, cancers, diabetes, nutrition-related conditions, cirrhosis, and overweight and obesity.

The Centre has NHMRC funded work to investigate ways to reduce the parental provision of alcohol to children to inform State and Federal Governments. This project is important as evidence shows that Australian parents are the most common source of alcohol for adolescents, leading to early initiation of drinking and larger subsequent consumption. Early initiation of alcohol in adolescence is a predictor of poorer health in later life. It also leads to risky alcohol use, the leading cause of death and disability in 15-24 year olds globally.

The Centre’s research has also informed State and Federal governments on community awareness of the link between alcohol and cancer which will assist communication strategies into the future.

Team members

  • Professor Caroline Miller, BA(Hons Psych) BEc MPH PhD (Medicine) – Director
  • Dr Jacquie Bowden, BA(Hons Psych), MPH, PhD – Deputy Director
  • Dr Kerry Ettridge, BPsych(Hons) PhD (Paediatrics) – Senior Behavioural Scientist
  • Jo Dono, BA(Hons Psych) MOrgPsych – Behavioural Scientist
  • Dr Ashlea Bartram, B Psych(Hons), B Com(Mgt), PhD – Behavioural Scientist
  • Dr Kathleen Wright, BHealthSci(HonPsych), GradDip Psych, BCom, Psychologist, PhD/M Psychology (Clin)– Research Assistant
  • Jo Caruso, BPsych (Hons) – Research Assistant
  • Katrina Douglas - Business and Research Operations Manager
  • Aimee Brownbill, BHealthSci(Hons Pub Hlth) – Research Assistant

Media contact

For all media enquires related to the above, please contact:

Pete McDonald
Head, Media and Communications
0402 293 078

You can't miss us

North Terrace
Adelaide 5000
South Australia

Postal address

PO Box 11060
Adelaide 5001
South Australia


Key partners

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SAHMRI is located on the traditional lands of the Kaurna people.

The SAHMRI community acknowledges and pays respect to the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region. We also acknowledge the deep feelings of attachment and the relationship of the Kaurna people to their country. We pay our respects to the Kaurna peoples' ancestors and the living Kaurna people today.