Dr Kathryn Powell

Dr Kathryn Powell
  • Biography/ Background

    Dr Kathryn Powell is an anthropologist whose research and applied work addresses contemporary health and social issues in modern cities and regional locales. Her research activity has concentrated on the responsiveness of health services to population groups (these may be defined by condition, locale, socio-economic status, gender, age) and the primary drivers of how the services are organised and considered relevant and effective.

    Her research lens considers the lived context of the intended service recipients (consumers) and the underpinning ideology /ideological principles organising service delivery and policy. Her research philosophy is to understand the issue as it is perceived by stakeholders and to begin by ‘co-creating the issue’ with stakeholders.

    Her approach tends to be action research oriented, in that it is centred on future solutions, collaboration and addressing systemic foundations. Kathryn’s work has been located within academic research, state government, consultancy projects and the private sector.

    Previous anthropological enquiries have included female adolescence, Aboriginal heritage, community services development for Aboriginal people, health based return to work programs for long term injured and stress related conditions, reframing regional models of health and community services, and the disposal of human bodies.

    Recent research areas:

    • Integration of health services within the primary health sector (integration across physical treatment disciplines, integration involving mental and physical health, integration across health and social support services).
    • Inter-disciplinary approaches to improving health programs, particularly including behavioural, mental, social and physical means of approaching health care, commencing at the student learning stage.
    • Knowledge Translation and mobilisation. Her method pays attention to the development and maintenance of links between the university/ research community and she is involved with projects that work to apply evidence into local contexts, supporting health practitioners to adopt more effective approaches to health conditions. For example, Kathryn is a part of a research team to improve GP responses to obesity among the less health literate in primary health.


    2014 - 2015: Research on the enablers and hindrances to co-located health services in urban South Australia, an Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute funded grant project.

    Kathryn is also known for her forensic anthropological work. Of particular note is her long term research in the field of locating buried bodies. She established a southern hemisphere experimental burial site and her book has been a well-used reference book on this topic by investigators internationally.

  • Awards & Achievements

    Recent awards:

    2014 Australian Primary Health Care Research Institute funded project:  Analysis of the supports and hindrances to the integration of co-located services in multiple models of primary health care delivery  [Value $149, 524].

    Kathryn is a Chief Investigator and principal researcher.


    2014 Travel and Professional Development Grant

    School of Population Health, University of Adelaide [Value $1250]

    Funded an accepted oral presentation at the Second World Congress on Integrated Care. Title: Is interation an add-on or a new way of working for health professionals in co-located medical practices?

     2012 Endeavour Executive Fellowship

    This involved supported time as a visiting scholar at the University of Saint Andrews, Scotland. The focus was on research utilisation and knowledge translation in both health - service delivery, the development of knowledge translation mechanisms and processes and mobilising knowledge across disciplines (for example interdisciplinary learning). She was based at the Research Utilisation Research Unit, School of Management, University of St Andrews during 2013.

    A key talking point was research impact.

  • Research Interests

    Dr Powell’s research interests include relevant health services for population groups, public health and local community research studies. She emphasises localised solutions using principles of collaboration and inclusion.

    She adopts the approach of medical anthropology (or the anthropology of health), as an inter-disciplinary study of people’s health and illness, and health care systems. Key focal points for her are:

    · the social and cultural issues that impact on the health status of population groups

    · how communities are organised to respond to issues of health care and whethter these appropriately and accurately reflect social priorities and values

    · the integration of different treatment disciplines to respond to co-morbidities, taking a 'whole of person' perspective.


    Kathryn is interested in reducing the complexity of translating research evidence into the public health arena and especially within the primary health sector (front line health services).

  • Publications

     Latest papers:

    Straiton, MS, Powell, K., Reneflot, A, Diaz, E., (2015) Managing Mental Health Problems Among Immigrant Women Attending Primary Health Care Services, Health Care for Women International

    Powell, K., Stocks, N., Gill, G., Laurence, C. (2015) A new venture in interdisciplinary student learning in a co-located health service, Australian Health Review

    Powell, Kathryn, Alison Kitson, Elizabeth Hoon, Jonathan Newbury, Anne Wilson, and Justin Beilby. "A study protocol for applying the co-creating knowledge translation framework to a population health study." Implementation Science 8, no. 1 (2013): 98.

    Kitson, A.L, Powell, K., Hoon, E., Newbury, J., Wilson, A., Beilby, J. (2013) “Knowledge Translation within a population health: how do you do it? “Implementation Science, 8:54.

    Reference book (sole author)

    Powell, K. (2010) Grave Concerns: Locating and Unearthing Human Bodies, Australian Academic Press, Queensland

     PhD Thesis

    Powell, K. (2006) The Detection of Buried Human Skeletal Remains in the South Australian Environment, PhD thesis, University of Adelaide

     Range of research, health and social issues addressed:

    Powell, K. (2004) “Detecting Buried Human Remains Using Near-Surface Geophysical Instruments” Exploration Geophysics, 35(1),pp 88-92

    Andrews, G. and Powell, K. (1991) “Consultancy on Long Term Care for Veterans and War Widows: Caring for a Changing Veteran Population”.

    Indermaur, D. and Upton [Powell], K. (1988) “Alcohol and Drug Use Patterns of Prisoners in Perth”, Australia and New Zealand Journal of Criminology, Vol. 21, pp 144-167. [note Upton is former name]

    Upton, K. (1985) Statutes Amendment (Victims of Crime) Act 1986 and the Rights of victims Bill: Recommendations Towards Implementation in the South Australian Department of Correctional Services.

    Upton, K. (1985) Community Health Services Development Plan for Gumeracha and Mount Pleasant.

     Honours Thesis

    Female Adolecence in South Australia (A socio-historical perspective) 


  • Professional Associations

    • Fellow – Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland (2011 ongoing)
    • Fellow - Australian Anthropological Society
    • Anthropological Society of South Australia
    • Australia and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS) (1999 – 2012)
    • Friends of the University of Adelaide library – member and past Committee member (2009 0ngoing)


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Entry last updated: Thursday, 16 Mar 2017