Professor Tony O'Brien

Professor Tony O'Brien

What are your research interests?

  • Indigenous palliative care - community models of care
  • Palliative care and mental illness
  • Health services research to improve patient-centered nursing care
  • Indigenous health research to close health gaps and to develop culturally appropriate and endorsed models of intervention
  • Mental health research and men’s suicidality
  • Men’s health 
  • Paternal Post Natal Depression – man-friendly interventions
  • Education research

Why did you get into research?

I have been a mental health and general nurse for many years. I became an academic to teach nursing at university and to research healthcare problems and find solutions. I have many clinical interests and want to translate solutions into health care to improve quality of care for patients and their families.

What would be the ultimate goal for your research?

Nurses spend their working lives in constant contact with patients and their families and share many experiences that are not just treatment related. By the end of my career I hope to have contributed to helping nurses develop a culture of research in health services. Research that translates to practice events and which ensures nursing’s contribution to patient care is valued.  


Professor O'Brien is a highly experienced mental health nurse with a background in community care, crisis intervention, case management and therapeutic intervention. His research interests involve people and communities and finding solutions to problems to make a difference in the delivery of healthcare.

Professor O'Brien has spent 27 years investigating patient care in an attempt to improve the delivery of care and help nurses get greater access to funding for interprofessional collaborations. He believes that researchers must work closely with clinicians to solve real clinical problems at the bedside.  

Future Focus

I want to get more men involved in health research and focus on their needs in the context of prevention and health promotion. Indigenous health concerns are also important, especially in the context of closing the health disparity gaps but also to develop collaborative Indigenous models of health care with communities.

Palliative care is important in the context of a personal dignified exit from life but also related to families and communities in the context of minority groups that may need specific strategies at End of Life. I would like to see all Registered Nurses engaged in developing clinical evidence to improve care and to see a culture of practice based research embedded in nursing care.

Specialised/Technical Skills

  • Qualitative research
  • Quantitative research
  • Survey development
  • Ethnography
  • Grounded theory methodology
  • Patient care in hospitals and community health services
  • Cultural studies


  • Health and Behaviour Priority Research Centre
  • Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources (NIER) – aspenmedical - Human Elements of Workplace Operations – Centre for Resources Health and Safety – Faculty of Health and Medicine, University of Newcastle
  • Nursing and Midwifery Research Centre Hunter New England Local Health District
  • BRICS – Building Research Interprofessional Collaborations
  • Mental Health Nursing Research Practice Development Unit (MHNRPDU)
  • Hunter New England Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee