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- Research programmes
- Core competence and research expertise
- Competetive advantage
- Current research projects

Implementation of expertise
- Community engagement
- Consultation
- Service rendering
- Partnerships and collaborations


Researchers from three schools in the Faculty do their research in the Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research (AUTHeR). These include the School of Psychosocial and Behavioural Sciences, the School of Nursing Sciences and the disciplines Consumer Sciences and Occupational Hygiene from the School of Physiology, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences.



Research and professional services aim to promote, preserve and restore the physical and mental health and well-being of individuals, families and communities through relevant, multidisciplinary and integrated fundamental, clinical and epidemiological studies and community-based interventions.

Research programmes
The Unit has two main programmes, each consisting of several large funded projects or programmes with many individual studies. The two main programmes include the following:

  • Epidemiology, prevalence and identification of problems and strengths over the continuum of health (pathology to thriving), as well as the dynamics of behaviour in various contexts.
  • Interventions to enhance health and quality of life in various contexts on individual, community, social and systems levels.

Core competence and research expertise
The following demonstrates the scientific/scholarly standing and capacity of participants in AUTHeR:

  • Several members serve as presidents, chairs and executive councils of organisations such as PsySA, FAMSA, Social Workers Union, ASAWEI, Grahamstown Society for the Civilian Blind, Local Child and Family Welfare Society and others.
  • Members of the group serve on the editorial boards of local journals such as Social Work Practitioner, Health SA, Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe and others;
  • Most of the senior staff members are regularly invited as keynote speakers at national and international meetings.
  • The Holding Hands project (within the FLAGH programme) received the Santam price for the best income-generating project for women initiated by a tertiary institution in 2005 and 2006.
  • Several members in the group are reviewers for organisations such as the National Research Foundation, Department of Health and national and international journals.

Competitive advantage
The competitive advantage of the group lies in its ability to perform transdisciplinary health research, which entails the understanding of public health problems from different perspectives and integrating them into a holistic approach for solving problems and improving the quality of life. The Research Unit addresses the following national and international priorities.

  • National: Guided by the Millennium Development Goals for South Africa, AUTHeR aims to contribute to the eradication of poverty and hunger, the promotion of gender equalities and the empowerment of women, the promotion of mother and child health and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
  • International: The majority of the projects in the two sub-programmes are international collaborative studies addressing not only South African problems, but also relevant international problems.  

Current research projects

Programme 1

  1. The Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiological (PURE) study
  2. The FORT and FLAGH programmes
  3. Older persons quality of life and well-being (Opqual) project
  4. Quality of life for people living positively with HIV (Qolplph)
  5. The project forensic social work

Programme 2

  1. Centre for Nursing Policy and Leadership Outcomes (Cenpol)
  3. Evidence-based practice for quality interventions (Ebpqi)
  4. South African Consumer and Labelling Behaviour (SAVE)



Non-profit activities related to core business

Community engagement
Researchers publish research results in high-quality peer reviewed national and international journals. AUTHeR aims to impact on health policy in South Africa. One of the immediate action plans is to work towards a hub of expertise in nursing (Cenpol).

The research in application guides successful and sustainable development and interventions such as the FLAGH programme.

Commercial activities related to core business

Individuals (patients or their medical doctors), governments, and also international bodies (World Health Organisation, Food and Agricultural Organisation) consult experts in the field on policy and planning.

Service rendering
Services include professional services from experts -in the different disciplines (nurses, psychologists, social workers, industrial hygienists) to individuals, groups, communities and governments. The aim of these services is to address, identify and treat specific physical and mental health problems.

Partnerships and collaborations
The researchers and groups in the Unit have established extensive national and international networks and alliances with the following:

Locally: University of Pretoria, University of the Free State, University of Kwa-Zulu Natal, University of Stellenbosch, University of Johannesburg, UNISA, WITS, University of the Western Cape, the Medical Research Council, The Agriculture Research Council, The World Bank, etc.

Internationally: United Kingdom, United States of America, Canada, New Zeeland, Australia, Austria, the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Scotland, Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Benin, Egypt, etc.




Other information

AUTHeR pdf


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