Dr Conor Gilligan

Research Program:
Research Topics:

What are your research interests?

  • Social and cultural aspects of alcohol consumption and population patterns of drinking. 
  • The role of parents in influencing adolescent alcohol consumption.
  • Clinical communication skills, education for interprofessional healthcare practice, and medical education. 

Why did you get into research? 

I naturally strive to be a problem solver, so when I became aware of the vast array of public health problems in society I naturally wanted to find ways to fix them. My PhD focused on helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women quit smoking during pregnancy - a major public health concern and health inequity.

The experience of working with these communities opened my eyes to other health issues and inequities that are influenced by social and cultural factors and drove me to explore other opportunities to investigate them. I'm now focusing on the social and cultural influences on alcohol consumption in an attempt to reduce risky alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms, particularly among young people.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

My research efforts are all focused towards developing effective interventions for parents, to tackle adolescent alcohol consumption - aiming towards delaying initiation, reducing risky consumption, and reducing alcohol-related harms. I look forward to the day when I don't see images of intoxicated young people having been involved in violence or road accidents when I turn on the news. 

Brief profile

Dr Gilligan is an established behavioural science researcher and Senior Lecturer in the Public Health research program. Since completing her PhD, she has been involved in the management of a large randomised controlled trial of an intervention to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to quit smoking during pregnancy. She has also built an original program of research in the alcohol field, relating to parental supply of alcohol and adolescent alcohol consumption.

This work has been the subject of several external grants and peer reviewed publications to date. Dr Gilligan has also established important national and international collaborations with eminent researchers in the field and continues to work towards interventions with parents to reduce adolescent alcohol consumption and large-scale trials.

She has strong links with researchers from Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre in Melbourne, Edith Cowan University, the Centre for Addictions Research, BC (Canada), Addiction Info (Switzerland), as well as other University of Newcastle researchers. 

Specialised/Technical Skills 

  • Survey design and data collection
  • Communication skills education