Dr Kathleen O'Brien

Senior Lecturer, Academic Unit of General Practice
ANU College of Health and Medicine

Areas of expertise

  • Primary Health Care 111717
  • Statistics 0104

Research interests

  • General Practice / Primary Health Care
  • Social determinants of health
  • Children’s health
  • Preventive health



Kathleen is a general practitioner and senior lecturer in the Academic Unit of General Practice of the ANU School of Medicine and Psychology. Prior to commencing medical school, Kathleen worked as a statistician and data analyst. Her interest in academia was sparked by a desire to bring together her statistical experience with her work as a general practitioner, as well as enthusiasm for the importance of primary health care research.


Researcher's projects

Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Australia - an update

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is a leading cause of hospitalisations in Australian preschool-aged children and infants. 

This project aims to provide an update on hospitalisations due to RSV for children aged <5 years. 


Adverse Childhood Experiences in ACT kindergarten children

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) encompass stressful, potentially traumatic experiences that people may be exposed to in childhood.

We aim to link the 2020 Kindergarten Health Check with ACT perinatal data for that cohort, in order to broadly understand the profile of children in early childhood in the ACT in context of their ACEs scores. This will include describing characteristics of these children, their mother’s perinatal characteristics, and identifying any perinatal factors predictive of high risk in this cohort.


Exposure to bushfire affected areas in ACT kindergarten children

The summer of 2019-2020 was marked by widespread, catastrophic bushfires across much of south eastern Australia. 

We aim to describe children's possible exposure to bushfires/smoke in summer 2019-20 in context of selected health condidtions and measures of wellbeing.


Risk of behavioural, learning and developmental difficulties in early childhood in the ACT

Our study aims to estimate the prevalence of risk for developmental and behavioural problems for children in their first year of full-time primary education in the ACT. We aim to explore how this varies for sociodemographic characteristics, with a focus on relative disadvantage within the ACT.

Current student projects

Systematic literature review - education for primary health practitioners on providing safe and effective telehealth consultations.




Past student projects

Identifying and exploring the metabolic risk of school aged children born to women diagnosed with gestational diabetes in the ACT

This study aims to determine if children whose mothers were diagnosed with gestational diabetes mellitus during their pregnancy have a significant difference in mean BMI in early childhood compared with a population-based sample. Modifiable lifestyle factors such as reduced activity and increased screen time will also be explored.


Screen time as a health determinant for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kindergarten children in the ACT

This project analyses data from the 2019 Kindergarten Health Check, a survey of all children in their first year of full-time primary education in the ACT. The 2019 survey introduced questions exploring children's screen time habits. This project aims to identify associations between Kindergarten children's screen time habits and key health outcomes, including any variation between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and their non-Indigenous peers.


Digital health use in general practice patients living in urban and rural areas

Digital health is a rapidly increasing area of healthcare delivery. This project is part of a larger exploratory mixed-methods study investigating digital health use by patients with socioeconomic disadvantage and chronic disease This project aims to understand the differences in the use of digital health between patients from urban and regional areas.



Projects and Grants

Grants information is drawn from ARIES. To add or update Projects or Grants information please contact your College Research Office.

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Updated:  16 June 2024 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers