Dr Anna Olsen PhD

BSc/BA (Hons), PhD
Senior Lecturer
ANU College of Health and Medicine
T: 02 6125 6836

Areas of expertise

  • Sociological Methodology And Research Methods 160807
  • Social And Cultural Anthropology 160104
  • Social Program Evaluation 160703
  • Public Health And Health Services 1117
  • Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander Health 111701
  • Infectious Diseases 110309
  • Gender Specific Studies 169901


Dr Olsen is a Senior Lecturer at the Research School of Population Health, ANU. She leads a number of public health research projects, teaches and supervises post-graduate students in public health, psychology, medicine and anthropology. Focussed on social science and public health research Dr Olsen has published in the fields of illicit drug use, women’s health, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and inequalities of health. Her theoretical background lies in the anthropology of health and illness, qualitative research methods and mixed methods. Her current research includes: drug overdose prevention; drug use and motherhood; domestic and family violence; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health; and ethical practice in social research. Dr Olsen was the recipient of a NHMRC Post-Doctoral Fellowship in 2010 and has been awarded a number of grants and consultancies in her specialised field. She values collaborative approaches to research and has extensive experience working with government and community on evaluation and research projects. Dr Olsen teaches qualitative research methods and has experience designing curriculum, developing higher education skills among teachers and convening programs. 

Researcher's projects

- Overdose prevention and take-home naloxone

- Ethical practice and legal requirements in social research

- Family violence and wellbeing in Indigenous communities

- Policy responses to parents who use drugs

- Medical school student attitudes to people who use drugs

- Pathways to treatment and care for Aboriginal Australians living with chronic hepatitis B (NHMRC 630732)

Current student projects

Potenial PhD Projects

  • Opioid overdose and naloxone
  • Older people's opioid use
  • Women, motherhood and drug use
  • Australian researchers' understanding of ethical practice as it relates to criminal activity and the law
  • Hepatitis C treatment experience and access for people who inject drugs
  • Family violence and Indigenous communitites
  • Family violence, alcohol and drug use

Potenial MPH and Honours Projects

  • Australia and the Ebola crisis. A framing and discourse analysis (qualitative) of media and policy reports on Australia’s response to the Ebola crisis in 2013 –14. The project involves a student searching for and collating Australian media reports and policy statements on the Ebola outbreak and conducting a frame analysis.
  • Alcohol and other drug use and domestic and family violence. A content analysis (qualitative) review of submissions to the Royal Commission into Family Violence to assess for content on alcohol and other drug use. 
  • Pharmacists provision of harm reduction service to people who use illicit drugs. A thematic analysis (qualitative) of interviews with pharmacists about their supply of opioid overdose prevention drugs.
  • Australian researchers' understanding of ethical practice as it relates to criminal activity and the law. A (qualitative) review of the literature and/or analysis of interviews with researchers. 
  • Stigma, motherhood and drug use. A (qualitative) framing analysis of media representations of women who use drugs and who are mothers. 

ANUMS PEP Project 2013-2017

  • Aims + Objectives
    • To examine the background literature on medical professionals and medical students attitudes towards people who use illicit drugs.
    • To measure the current and continuing attitudes of ANU Medical School students towards people who use illicit drugs via the development of a pilot survey. The survey will measure student attitudes towards illicit drugs, people who use illicit drugs, education on this topic (present and future) and intentions to work in drug and alcohol medicine. A full study proposal will be compiled.
    •  To scope and review the ANU Medical School’s current curriculum content on illicit drug use. A search will also be conducted on national and state-based medical education standards/guidelines (if such exists). A report detailing the scoping review will be compiled for the ANU Drug and Alcohol Clinic.


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Updated:  17 July 2019 / Responsible Officer:  Director (Research Services Division) / Page Contact:  Researchers