Robert Stirling

Robert Stirling

Research Student

Professional Doctorate of Public Health - Performance measurement in alcohol and other drug treatment services

Mode of study : 


Country : 


Previous Education : 

Master of Public Health (USyd)

The Professional Doctorate of Public Health Program at UNSW provides me with an opportunity to undertake applied research in the workplace that directly relates to my role. I represent the non-government alcohol and other drugs treatment sector in NSW, and the idea for my study has come about from the direct need of the sector. It also responds to a priority under the National Drug Strategy and is supported by funders of treatment here in NSW and nationally. Additionally, my academic supervisors at UNSW are experts in my area of research.

Summary of research project

The purpose of the study is to establish a list of performance measures that can be used by funders of NSW non-government alcohol and other drugs treatment, that is acceptable to funders, treatment providers and service users. The study will: assess current performance measures used in the NSW NGO treatment sector and how they align with best practice; identify what are the most acceptable and feasible measures among stakeholders – where ‘stakeholders’ include the treatment providers, the funders and the service users; explore the extent of concordance in acceptable and feasible measures between those stakeholders; explore the challenges associated with the implementation of performance measures; and prioritise a finite list of performance measures.

Enjoyed most about research program

The research program has provided me with the opportunity to develop a network with other students undertaking the program from a wide variety of health backgrounds utilising a range of different methods for their study. It has provided me with the resources to develop my own research skills and undertake the study through a more robust methodology than if had I done the work independently.

Message to newly commencing students

Juggling full-time work and study can seem like a bit of an impossible task. Take advantage of the services that UNSW offer; network with other students and get strategies from those in the same situation; develop good communication and negotiation skills with your supervisor/s; and most importantly do something directly relevant to your current role to have a good balance between work and study.

How degree will assist in career

The degree will assist me by developing my research skills, developing a good network with public health professionals and academics, increasing my credibility both in my workplace and for future employees, contributing to the public health literature and improving health services for people with alcohol and other drugs issues.