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DIPex International

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DIPex International

Healthtalk Australia is part of DIPEx International, a network of organisations in 11 countries around the world which undertake and publish rigorous research into people’s experiences of major illness and health-related conditions.


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Publications, Presentations & Media

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Publications, Presentations & Media

Healthtalk Australia publications

Ridge D, Kokanovic R, Broom A, Kirkpatrick S, Anderson C & Tanner C. (2015) “My dirty little habit”: Patient constructions of antidepressant use and the ‘crisis’ of legitimacy. Social Science & Medicine. 146: 53-61.

Tudball J, Smith L, Ryan K, Williamson M and Manias E. (2015) Challenges to consumers travelling with multiple medicines. Journal of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research. 6(3): 127-132.

Anderson C, Kirkpatrick S, Ridge D, Kokanovic R & Tanner C. (2015) Starting antidepressant use: a qualitative synthesis of UK and Australian data. British Medical Journal Open. 5(12): 1-9.

Pienaar K, Fraser S, Kokanovic R, Moore D, Treloar C & Dunlop A. (2015) New narratives, new selves: Complicating addiction in online alcohol and other drug resources. Addiction Research and Theory. 23(6): 499-509.

Smith L, Hill N & Kokanovic R. (2015) Experiences of depression, the role of social support and its impact on health outcomes. Journal of Mental Health. 24(6): 342-346.

Kokanovic R and Bozic-Vrbancic S. (2015) Being marked as different: The emotional politics of experiences of depression and migrant belongings. Emotion, Space and Society. 16: 130-137.

Kokanovic R and Philip B. (2014) ‘Medicalising Emotional Talk: Disclosing a Diagnosis of Depression’ in Davis M & Manderson L. (eds) Disclosure and identity in health and illness. London: Routledge.

Kokanovic R, Bendelow G & Philip B. (2013) Depression: The ambivalence of diagnosis. Sociology of Health and Illness. 35(3): 377-390.

Kokanovic R, Butler E, Halilovich H, Palmer V, Griffiths F, Dowrick C & Gunn J. (2013) Maps, models, and narratives: The way people talk about depression. Qualitative Health Research. 23(1): 114-125.


Healthtalk Australia conference presentations 

Kokanovic R, Johnston-Ataata K, Hill N & Hart C. (2016) Personal Experiences of Health and Illness on the Internet: DIPEx International Collaboration and Healthtalk Australia. Third ISA Forum of Sociology. Vienna, Austria. (forthcoming)

Johnston-Ataata K and Kokanovic R. (2015) “I just thought I could do it all on my own”: Diverse parents’ experiences of distress, isolation and dependency in early parenthood. The Australian Sociological Association – Family, Relationships and Gender Thematic Group Symposium. Melbourne, Australia.

Brophy L, Kokanovic R & Tanner C. (2015) Perspectives on Supported Decision-Making and Community Treatment Orders. XXXIVth International Congress of Law and Mental Health. Vienna, Austria.

Pienaar K. (2015) New narratives, new selves: Complicating addiction in online alcohol and other drug resources. Victorian Substance Use Research Forum (VSURF). Melbourne, Australia.

Team V, Ryan K, Wild K, Tudball J, Maypilama L & Smith L. (2015) Healthtalkonline Australia: Immigration, ageing and health. Inaugural International Conference on Migration Social Disadvantage and Health. Melbourne, Australia.

Tudball J, Smith L, Ryan K, Morgan T, Eichhorn U & Simpson V. (2015) Translating people’s lived experiences with multiple medicines into an online resource to inform decision making. International Society for Evidence-Based Health Care. Sydney, Australia.

Pienaar K, Moore D, Fraser S, Kokanovic R, Treloar C & Dilkes-Frayne E. (2015) Beyond the volition/compulsion binary: A diffractive reading of personal accounts of alcohol and other drug (AOD) ‘addiction’. Contemporary Drug Problems (CDP) Conference. Lisbon, Portugal.

Kokanovic R (2014) Using qualitative research inpatient experiences to inform health service development: Healthtalk Australia. Australian Disease Management Association Conference. Melbourne, Australia.

Ridge D, Kokanovic R, Kirkpatrick S, Anderson C & Tanner C. (2014) “[My] Dirty Little Secret”: The Moral Cosmology of Antidepressant Taking. British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Annual Conference. Aston University, UK.

Kokanovic R, Philip B, Ridge D & Ziebland S. (2014) Depression, work and identity in a neoliberal world: Perspectives from Australia and the UK. XVIII International Sociological Association (ISA) World Congress of Sociology. Yokohama, Japan.

Wild K, Ryan K, Team V, Tudball J, Maypilama L & Smith L. (2014) The use of visual methods in ageing research. XVIII International Sociological Association (ISA) World Congress of Sociology. Yokohama, Japan.

Team V. (2014) Cultural diversity in people’s experiences of ageing. The Cultural Diversity in Ageing 2014 Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Kokanovic R and Bozic S. (2014) Imaging the subject. Narrative Matters: Narrative Knowing / Récit et Savoir. Paris, France.

Zalitis D. (2014) The emotional experiences of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. NSW Midwives Association Conference. Sydney, Australia. (With R Kokanovic and K Johnston-Ataata)

Ryan K. (2013) Personal experience narratives of ageing: An evidence-based multimedia web resource. Grey Expectations: Ageing in the 21stCentury, 46th National Conference. Sydney, Australia.

Kokanovic R and Philip B. (2013) Questioning notions of ‘recovery’ from ‘depression’. British Sociological Association Medical Sociology Annual Conference. University of York, UK.

Kokanovic R and Philip B. (2013) Pharmaceutical encounters – subjective experiences of antidepressant medication. EASA Medical Anthropology Network AAA Society for Medical Anthropology Joint International Conference. Tarragona, Spain.

Team V. (2013) The need for an Australian Healthtalkonline module on ageing experiences. Grey Expectations: Ageing in the 21st Century, 46thNational Conference. Sydney, Australia.

Tudball J and Smith L. (2013) Managing multiple medicines gets easier with age? Grey Expectations: Ageing in the 21st Century, 46th National Conference. Sydney, Australia.

Wild K & Ryan K. (2013) Including remote-dwelling Aboriginal participants in broad qualitative research. Grey Expectations: Ageing in the 21stCentury 46th National Conference. Sydney, Australia.

Kokanovic R. (2012) The ‘recovery’ of the Self through Depression. The Phenomenology of Depression International Workshop. University of Osnabruck, Germany.


Healthtalk Australia invited presentations

Kokanovic R. (2015) Using qualitative research on health experiences to support young peoples’ mental health. Orygen, The National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health, Melbourne, Australia.

Moore D. (2015) Challenging addiction. Keynote address at the Australian Youth AOD Conference, Melbourne, Australia.

Pienaar K. (2015) A new online resource on lived experiences of alcohol and other drug (AOD) addiction in Australia. Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre. Melbourne, Australia.

Kokanovic R. (2015) The ethics of ambivalence and being “good enough”: Psychiatrists’ experiences of supported decision-making in the context of mental illness. St Vincent’s Hospital – Mental Health. Melbourne, Australia.

Ryan K. (2015) Experiences of Ageing in Australia. Paper presented at the Healthdirect Australia and Healthtalk Australia launch of The Lived Experience of Ageing module. Sydney, Australia.

Kokanovic R. (2013) Medicalising emotions: Antidepressant use in women. St Mary’s Hospital, Réseau Universitaire Intégré de Santé (RUIS) McGill University. Montreal, Canada.

Ryan K. (2012) Personal experiences of health and illness on the web: A multi-media resource for patients, families and professionals. Paper presented at the Centre for Medicine Use and Safety, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne.

Ryan K. (2011) Personal experiences of health and illness: a multi-media web resource. School of Nursing & Midwifery Research Seminar Series, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia.


Healthtalk Australia media

Kokanovic R. (27 July 2015) Interview on Croatian Program, SBS Radio about Healthtalk Australia

Johnston-Ataata K. (24 November 2014) Interview on Mornings with Linda Mottram (702 ABC Sydney) about Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families research findings

Johnston-Ataata K. (24 November 2014) Interview on Afternoons with Louise Maher (666 ABC Canberra / Newcastle) about Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families research findings

Johnston-Ataata K. (15 November 2014) Interview on Saturday Morning with Hillary Harper (774 ABC Melbourne) about Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood in Australian Families research findings

Kokanovic R and Johnston-Ataata K. (7 November 2014) ‘Support for new parents is just a click away‘, Monash University news.

Johnston-Ataata K and Kokanovic R. (2 October 2014) ‘I didn’t know who I was anymore’: Myths vs realities of early parenthood, The Conversation.

Johnston-Ataata K. (19 September 2014) Invited guest on Radio National Life Matters talkback program “So you’re going to be a dad”


Other relevant publications by Healthtalk Australia researchers

Lewis S, Willis K, Kokanovic R & Pirotta M (2015) ‘I’m managing myself’: How and why people use St John’s wort as a strategy to manage their mental health risk. Health, Risk & Society. 17(5-6): 439-457.

Ziebland S & Kokanovic R. (2012). Emotions and chronic illness, Chronic Illness. 8(3): 159-162.

Locock L & Smith L. (2011) Personal benefit, or benefiting others? Deciding whether to take part in clinical trials, Clinical Trials. 8(1): 85-93.

Locock L & Smith L. (2011) Personal experiences of taking part in clinical trials – A qualitative study, Patient Education and Counseling. 84(3): 303–309a.


Other relevant conference presentations by Healthtalk Australia researchers

Anderson C, Chana T, Ryan K, Smith L & Herxheimer A. (2012) “They Filled Me with Pills.” Patient’s Experiences of Taking Medicines Following a Heart Attack. Social Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical and Health Consumer Protection Conference. Phuket, Thailand.

Ryan K, Smith L, Hislop J, Anderson C & Herxheimer A. (2012) How Do Women Talk About HRT? Discourses of Risk and Decision-Making in Experiential Narratives of Menopause. Social Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical and Health Consumer Protection Conference. Phuket, Thailand.


Conference presentations drawing on Healthtalk Australia research

McNair R. (2015) Same-sex parented families: Triumphs and challenges. Australian Society for Psychosocial Obstetrics and Gynaecology Conference. Royal Women’s Hospital, Melbourne, Australia. (Invited presentation)

* 2011 onwards

Our People

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Our People

Renata2013-newRenata Kokanovic – Co-Director

Renata Kokanovic, Monash Fellow, is Associate Professor of Sociology of Health and Illness, and Leader of the Social Studies in Health and Medicine (SSHM) Research Program at Monash University. The SSHM Research Program is a collaborative, interdisciplinary research and knowledge-exchange initiative based in the Faculty of Arts. The program is focused on developing sophisticated conceptualisations of health and illness experiences, particularly illnesses diagnosed as psychiatric illnesses, chronic illness and ‘contested’ illness conditions, using innovative qualitative research methods and contextualising subjective experiences within broad political and cultural processes.

Renata Kokanovic is the lead researcher and author of three Healthtalk Australia modules – Experiences of Depression and Recovery in Australia (ARC LP 0990229), Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood (funded by Healthdirect Australia) and Supported Decision Making for People with Severe Mental Health Problems (ARC LP 130100557, awarded 2013, website forthcoming) and is co-investigator on the research for the Experiences of Addiction project (ARC DP 140100996, awarded 2013).

Renata’s web profile


Lorraine2013-newLorraine Smith – Co-Director

Lorraine Smith is a Registered Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Pharmacy at Sydney University. Her research interests focus on patient perspectives on self-management of chronic conditions. She is co-investigator on the Living with Multiple Medicines and Experiences of Ageing in Australia modules. Lorraine conducts qualitative and quantitative research projects into patient self-management, and has studied patient perspectives on asthma, allergic rhinitis, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and chronic low back pain.

Lorraine’s web profile


Alex Broom – Co-Director

Photo of Alex Broom

Alex Broom is Professor of Sociology at the School of Social Sciences, the University of New South Wales. He specialises in the sociology of health and illness, with a current focus on issues related to: cancer, palliative and end-of-life care; death, dying and bereavement; traditional, complementary and alternative medicines; the intersections of individual biographies and illness experiences; social inequalities and social justice; professional and inter-professional dynamics in health and medicine; and health in developing countries. Alex works regularly with a wide range of industry partners (e.g. hospitals, community organisations, professional organisations related to health and medicine) with a focus on improving people’s experiences of illness and the delivery of healthcare. His program of research melds the conceptual richness of sociology with the value of applied, translational health research.

Alex’s web profile


Kate Johnston-Ataata – CoordinatorJohnston-Ataata photo books

Kate Johnston-Ataata is a Research Associate in the Social Studies in Health and Medicine (SSHM) Research Program, Faculty of Arts, Monash University. Kate brings her experience as a researcher / project coordinator on three Healthtalk Australia projects (Experiences of Depression and Recovery in Australia, Emotional Experiences of Early Parenthood and Supported Decision Making for People with Severe Mental Health Problems) to her role as Healthtalk Australia Coordinator. Kate is also undertaking doctoral research at Monash University on experiences of partnering and becoming parents in intercultural relationships.



Kath Ryan – Founding Co-Director and Senior Advisor

K Ryan pic

Kath Ryan, formerly Research Director in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at La Trobe University, Melbourne, is Chief Investigator for Experiences of Ageing in Australia, funded by Healthdirect Australia, and the researcher and author of Experiences of Breastfeeding in the UK which she completed while working at Bournemouth University and collaborating with the Health Experiences Research Group at the University of Oxford. She is also the chair of the steering group for Living with Multiple Medicines. A NZ pharmacist, Kath’s research interests are health consumer perspectives, including public patient involvement, personal experiences of health and illness, medication narratives, and women’s health, including infant feeding, medicines use during pregnancy and breastfeeding, and public perceptions of pharmacy services and the role of pharmacists.

Kath’s web profile


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  • We employ well-established methods of qualitative research which are rigorous and systematic.
  • We typically conduct 40-50 in-depth interviews with individuals concerning their personal experiences of living with a health condition, or caring for someone with a health condition. These interviews are usually conducted at home using audio and video recording equipment. We explore questions and problems that matter to people when they have a newly diagnosed health issue or when they are ill, or caring for someone who is ill.
  • People with as many different experiences as possible are interviewed. We also recruit our participants representing different areas of the country, socio-economic and cultural / ethnic backgrounds, religious affiliations, ages, and gender. This way, we can make sure that a full range of perspectives is sampled.
  • Standardised research methods are used for analysing the interview data. The results are published on our website, in peer-reviewed journals, disseminated at conferences and in the media, and reported to our funding bodies.
  • The findings are used to develop publicly accessible websites on particular health or health-related conditions. Each website provides support and information for patients, their family and carers. Around 25-30 thematic summaries of what is important to those people who were interviewed are provided. These are illustrated with video, audio and written excerpts from the interviews, as well as short summaries of each of our interviewees’ stories.
  • An Advisory Panel, comprising people with expertise or experience relevant to a given health condition, plays an important role guiding the development and conduct of the research. Members share their expertise in relation to recruitment, research materials, feedback on thematic summaries written for the websites, and dissemination of research findings.
  • The websites are also available for health professional education and professional development, and for informing person-centred policy development.

Purpose & Aims

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Purpose & Aims

Our purpose is to promote and conduct qualitative research into personal experiences of health and illness, working in collaboration with the Health Experiences Research Group (HERG) at the University of Oxford, (the DIPEx Charity UK), and DIPEx International.

Healthtalk Australia aims to:

  • Raise funds for research into personal experiences of health and illness in Australia.
  • Conduct research using the methodology developed by HERG – University of Oxford and DIPEx UK, thus ensuring a high quality evidence-based approach to personal experiences of health and illness.
  • Ensure quality and integrity are maintained according to established criteria outlined by DIPEx International Quality Control Manual.
  • Supervise, mentor and train other researchers in Australia via workshops and one-to-one buddying system, as developed by DIPEx UK.
  • Disseminate research findings via Healthtalk Australia, peer-reviewed journals, conferences, invited presentations to health services, and the media.
  • Promote Healthtalk Australia through seminars and conferences to our colleagues and professional associations and through the media to members of the public

Potential uses of our websites and research:

  • Individual patient/carer information and support
  • Clinical education and professional development
  • Service provider quality improvement / experience-based health service co-design
  • Policy development and clinical guidelines


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Experiences of ageing in Australia


The Experiences of Ageing project aimed to improve our understandings of people’s experiences of getting older, and provide information resources to support older people, their families and health professionals involved in their care. We collected video, audio and written interviews, which have been used to:

  • find out what is important to people as they age
  • contribute to the health information website
  • train health and social care professionals
  • support quality improvement in healthcare
  • write research papers

Healthtalk Australia website module:

Experiences of ageing in Australia

Funding Body:

Healthdirect Australia (2013-2014)


Associate Professor Kath Ryan, Lead Investigator, Research Director, School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University

Dr Lorraine Smith, Co-Investigator, School of Pharmacy, University of Sydney

Research Team:

Dr Kayli Wild, Research Fellow, School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University

Dr Victoria Team, Research Officer,  School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University

Dr Jacqueline Tudball, Research Fellow, School of Nursing & Midwifery, La Trobe University

Advisory Panel:

Sally Beath, GP Representative, Medical Practitioner

Stephanie Bell, Aboriginal Link Co-ordinator, Frontier Aged Care Services

Maree Cameron, Policy Representative,Victorian Government Department of Health

Tony Coles, Executive Officer, Australian Association of Gerontology

Sophie Hill, Head,  Centre for Health Communication and Participation, La Trobe University

Joe Ibrahim, Professor and Consultant Geriatrician, Monash University

Marion Lau, Deputy Chair, Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria (Chair of Aged Care Policy Committee)

Janine Lundie, Policy Analyst (Dianne Zalitis)  Healthdirect Australia

Maree McCabe, CEO (Leanne Wenig) Alzheimer’s Australia

Andrew McLachlan, Professor of Pharmacy, University of Sydney and Centre for Education and Research on Ageing

Rhonda Nay, Emeritus Professor, La Trobe University

Helen Rawson, Research Fellow, Southern Health Nursing Research Centre, Deakin University

Libby Saunders, Former National Director, Calvary Health Care

Diane WalkerKnowledge Exchange Co-ord, Lowitja Institute

Ian Yates, CEO, Council on the Ageing