• Crowe R, Probst Y, Norman J, Furber S, Franco L, Stanley R, Okely AD. (2020) Healthy eating and physical activity environments in out of school hours care: an observational study protocol. BMJ Open: 10:e036397.
  • Crowe R, Probst Y, Stanley R, Ryan S, Weaver RG, Beets M, Norman J, Furber S, Vuong C, Hammersley M, Wardle K, Franco L, Davis M, Innes-Hughes C, Okely AD. (2021) Physical Activity in out of school hours care: an observational study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 18:127. 
  • Johnston R, Norman J, Furber S, Parkinson J. (2021) The barriers and enablers to implementing the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy in secondary schools in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region: A qualitative study. Health Promotion Journal of Australia .00:1-10. 
  • Kerr E, Kelly B, Norman J, Furber S, Hernandez L, Hammersley M, Ryan S, Franco L, Vuong C, Okely AD. (2021) Nutrition, physical activity and screen time policies and practices in family day care in NSW. Public Health Research and Practice. 
  • Kerr E, Kelly B, Hammersley M, Hernandez L, Norman J, Furber S, Vuong C, Ryan S, Wardle K, Okely AD. (2021) Foods provided to children in family day care: an observational study. Public Health Nutrition. 24(11), 3196–3204. 
  • Kerr E, Kelly B, Hammersley ML, Norman J, Hernandez L, Furber S, Vuong C, Wardle K, Ryan S, Okely AD. (2021) Assessment of feeding practices and mealtime environments in Australian family day care services: an observational study. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.
  • Norman J, Van Weerdenburg K, Furber S, Stratten M., Okely A.D. (2021) A health and wellbeing program for preadolescents in underserved Australian communities: Child and stakeholder perspectives. Health Promotion International. 1–13
  • Waller K, Furber S, Cook R, Allman-Farinelli M, Colagiuri S, Franco L, Moses R, Webb A, Bauman A. (2021) Effectiveness and costs of strategies to recruit Australian adults with type 2 diabetes into a text message intervention (DTEXT) study. Public Health Res Pract.
  • Waller K, Furber S, Bauman A, Allman-Farinelli M, van den Dolder P, Hayes A, Facci F, Franco L, Webb A, Moses R, Cook R, Gugusheff J, Owen K, Colagiuri S. (2021) Effectiveness and acceptability of a text message intervention (DTEXT) on HbA1c and self-management for people with type 2 diabetes. A randomized controlled trial. Patient Education and Counseling 104:1736-1744.

Conference presentations (2020)

  • Bates A, et al (2021) “Effect of a home-based exercise program in community-dwelling older people”, paper presented at Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Conference 
  • Johnston R, Norman J, Furber S, Parkinson J. (2020) The barriers and facilitators to implementing the NSW Healthy School Canteen Strategy in secondary schools. Nutrition and Dietetics. 77 (S1):48
  • Norman J, Kelly B, McMahon A-T, Boyland E, Chapman K, King L. (2020), ‘‘Not ‘child-directed’ food advertising elicits children’s brand recognition and positive attitudinal responses”, paper presented at World Public Health Nutrition Congress, digital presentation (COVID-19)


New grants awarded in 2021

  • Evaluating the effectiveness and feasibility of a Virtually enhanced Community Care model for Chronic Disease. 2021 ISLHD & IHMRI Collaborative Health Professional Research Grants. Investigators: Broyd S, Lambert K, Muir Krist-Lee, Jones A, Samuel Sameh, Furber S. ($27,508).
  • The effect of a text message program (TEXT4HealthyHeart) on reducing overweight and obesity for people referred to the Shoalhaven Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. ISLHD Allied Health, Nursing & Midwifery Research Grants 2021. Investigators: Kandl B, Turner R, Waller K, Bauman A, Davies K, Furber S. ($9,945.58). 

Current grants

  • A pilot study on a text message-based healthy lifestyle intervention for families. 2019 IHMRI Clinical Translation Grant Scheme. Investigators: Norman J, Okely A, Furber S, Bauman A. ($30,000).
  • The BEST at Home pragmatic fall prevention program: effectiveness, cost effectiveness and implementation. NHMRC Partnership Project 2014. Chief Investigators: Sherrington C, Furber S, Bauman A, Howard K Tiedemann A. ($1,342,101).


  • Amanda Bates was given the award for 'Best scientific research oral presentation’ at the 2021 Australian and New Zealand Falls Prevention Conference for her presentation titled 'Effect of a home-based exercise program in community-dwelling older people'. 
  • Dr Susan Furber has received the title of Professor from the University of Wollongong (UOW) where she holds an appointment as an Honorary Senior Fellow with the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities.

ISLHD Health Promotion Service PhD candidates 

  • Amanda Bates (University of Sydney)
  • Karen Waller (University of Wollongong)

Research projects update

DTEXT (text message intervention for people with type 2 diabetes)

Two articles were published in peer-reviewed journals in 2021 (Waller et al 2021 – see publication list). The results from the randomised controlled trial showed that the intervention was effective in improving vegetable intake and was well-received by participants. Regarding recruitment of participants, we found that traditional recruitment methods were not as effective as paid Facebook and mass mail-outs. A manuscript on cost-effectiveness of DTEXT has been submitted for publication and a manuscript on the acceptability of the intervention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be submitted soon.

BEST at Home (falls prevention intervention for older people)

A manuscript on the effectiveness in the BEST at Home intervention for preventing falls in older people is under review for publication. The title is “Effectiveness of workshops to teach a home-based exercise program (BEST at Home) for 2 preventing falls in community-dwelling people aged 65 years and over: a pragmatic randomised 3 controlled trial.” The authors are Amanda Bates, Susan Furber, Cathie Sherrington, Paul van den Dolder, Karen Ginn, Adrian Bauman, Kirsten Howard, Michelle Kershaw, Lisa Franco, Cathy Chittenden, Anne Tiedemann. 

Prevention Research Support Program (PRSP)

ISLHD Health Promotion Service are a key partner on the Prevention Research Support Program (PRSP) grant that was awarded in 2017 to Early Start at the University of Wollongong. Senior Professor Tony Okely is the Chief Investigator on this grant. We are involved in the planning, implementation and evaluation of research activities under the PRSP project areas and the program also aims to build the research capacity of ISLHD health staff. 
Collaborative research projects include:

  • Observing healthy eating and physical activity practices in the family day care (FDC) setting
  • Developing and testing an online support tool for service providers and educators in family day care to improve nutrition and physical activity practices
  • An audit of the healthy eating and active living environments within the out of school hours care (OSHC) services (After-School)
  • An audit of the healthy eating and active living environments within the out of school hours care (OSHC) services (Before-School)
  • The potential acceptability of a Smartphone App to promote healthy eating and physical activity among stakeholders of the Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) sector
  • Bridging the health gap – assessing the acceptability and feasibility of healthy eating and physical activity narrative-style audiovisual content and text messaging for families with young children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (Healthy Kids Vids) (CI Dr Megan Hammersley)

Evaluation of the Department of Education School-Based Physical Activity Intervention: Race Around Australia

This project is being conducted under the PRSP grant.

Aim:  To investigate the feasibility, acceptability and efficacy of Race Around Australia (RAA) on health and well-being outcomes among children in primary and secondary schools in the Illawarra Shoalhaven and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts. RAA is a school-based physical activity initiative where classes and schools virtually race each other around Australia during a school term (10 weeks). This study was undertaken in between April and September 2021. Baseline and follow-up measurements were collected from students (Years 5-8) and included cardiovascular fitness, physical activity, sedentary time and wellbeing. Matched schools that did not register to participate in RAA were invited to be the control. Feasibility and acceptability were assessed through interviews with the teachers following the intervention period. A journal article will be submitted for publication in 2022.
You can find out more about Race Around Australia through the School Spot Unit Premiers Sporting Challenge website: 

Adventure & Veg

Text messages and social media posts have been shown to be an effective and convenient way to help people adopt healthy habits. This pilot study aims to assess the effectiveness of a social media and/or a text message program for parents on their primary school-aged child’s physical activity and vegetable eating behaviours.
Funded by an IHMRI Clinical Translation Grant, this study will commence in the first-half of 2022, pending COVID-19 restrictions. (CI Dr Jenny Norman)

STOP: Smoking and Quitting Throughout the Peri-Operative Period

Principal investigator: Boris Waldman, Registrar, Department of Anaesthetics
Associate Investigators: Natalie Smith, Senior staff Specialist, Tara Lawson, Health Promotion Service, Thomas Lang, Anaesthetics Registrar, Justine Payne, Anaesthetics Registrar
Aim: 1. To investigate what proportion of patients having surgery smoke and; 2. To investigate whether health-care professionals using elective surgery as an opportunity to help patients quit.
This research involves various phases; initially it will gather data on the proportion of patients smoke prior to surgery and whether they have been advised and supported to make a quit attempt. The next stage will examine the proportion of patients who smoke when admitted for surgery who are prescribed smoking cessation therapy and whether smoking is status coded. Finally this project will investigate addressing any gaps into providing smoking cessation therapy to patients who smoke prior to surgery.

Resistance Training for Teens

During 2022 and 2023, ISLHD Health Promotion Service will be partnering with the University of Newcastle (CI Professor David Lubans), the NSW Department of Education and four other Local Health Districts in NSW on the evidence-based Resistance Training for Teens (RT for Teens) dissemination study. The aim of this study is to assess the effect of three support models (i.e., Low, Moderate and High) on the implementation (i.e., reach, effectiveness, dose delivered, fidelity, adoption, sustainability, impact and cost) of the RT for Teens program in NSW schools. To achieve this aim, an implementation-effectiveness cluster randomised controlled trial in 90 schools will be conducted to determine the most effective and cost-effective implementation support model. Effective school-based interventions need to be ‘scaled-up’ to improve population health. 

SWAP IT- Scaling It Up 

2021/22 ISLHD Health Promotion Service will be involved with a scale up and dissemination of the SWAP IT healthy lunchbox program in NSW primary schools in partnership with Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD lead) and 4 other Local Health Districts.
The aim of the research will be to assess the effectiveness of a multi-component scale-up strategy on increasing the adoption of an effective technology-based healthy lunchbox initiative (SWAP IT) within New South Wales primary schools as a solution to address poor child dietary intake.
SWAP IT healthy lunchbox program has been shown to be an effective, acceptable, low cost, evidence-based behavioural change program that improves children’s nutrition by supporting parents and carers to improve children’s eating habits by helping them to ‘swap out’ unhealthy lunchbox foods for healthier alternatives.

Thirsty? Choose Water!

The Thirsty? Choose Water! Research project was run in partnership with Central Coast Local Health District (project lead) and South West Sydney Local Health District. It was funded by NSW Health’s Translational Research Grants Scheme (TRGS) to work with schools across these three health districts.
ISLHD worked in partnership with 21 High Schools adopting a whole-school approach to promote water as the drink of choice. This involved activities in the classroom, installation of chilled water stations on site and promotions both within the school and to the wider community, including parents/carers.
These strategies were found to increase water consumption amongst students and encourage replacement of sugary beverages.
Schools can access resources at: