Research

I am Australia’s leading researcher in nutrition in general practice health services. I lead a team of exceptional researchers who are expanding the evidence-base of nutrition care in general practice. 

The research occurs in five areas:

We have developed a low-cost, feasible, acceptable support bundle aimed at helping health professionals feel more confident in discussing nutrition with patients. We are sharing the resources with general practice clinics, primary health networks and other health services to support as many health professionals as possible. Please get in contact if you are interested in receiving this support.

Putting Patients First

We are finding out how patients change their diet after being told they have a chronic disease. We are understanding the factors that help them have a healthy diet, and the factors that make it more challenging to eat well. This research involves a large, longitudinal cohort study of people recently diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes (“3D Study”), examining their eating habits as well as their physical activity levels, medication, weight and waist circumference, family support, mental health, smoking, attitudes towards healthy eating and interactions with health care providers.

Reimagining Dietitians in General Practice

More than a third of dietitians work in primary care. Being a dietitian in primary care is rewarding, but hard work. Some of the main challenges include having multiple locations, insecure income, working out of usual hours, minimal mentoring, and lack of systems to track patient outcomes. We are working to revolutionise the way that dietitians are funded in Australia to make sure this important part of the workforce continues to grow in a sustainable, effective manner.

The Way We Care

We know that many patients feel unheard and rushed when discussing nutrition with health professionals. This is not “patient-centred.” We are finding out how to make sure that patients' needs, values, preferences and wishes are always incorporated when health professionals discuss nutrition in consultations. We are using this new information to improve how health professionals are educated in nutrition and change the way that “nutrition care” is delivered in practice.

Learning From the Past

The general practice setting is transforming. It didn’t always used to “be this way”. We are investigating the history of nutrition in general practice by analysing the narrative of nutrition in government reports, health care policies, journal articles, practice guidelines and medical curricula. We are using this important information to understand how nutrition lost its way in general practice. We are also making a plan to put nutrition at the forefront once again.

Dr Lauren Ball Publications

I have published over 100 peer-reviewed publications in targeted journals, including the Australian Journal of Primary Health, Australian Family Physician, British Journal of General Practice and Family Practice. Below is a snapshot of publications; for a full list please visit Google Scholar.

Recent Publications About Healthcare Professionals

Ball L, Lee P, Ambrosini G, Hamilton K, Tuffaha H. How often should General Practitioners provide nutrition care to patients? A forecasting activity to determine the target frequency for chronic disease management in Australia. Australian Journal of Primary Health 2016, 22:383-387.

Crowley J, Ball L, Wall C. Nutrition advice provided by general practice registrars: An investigation using patient scenarios. Public Health 2016, 140:17-22.

Barnes K, Desbrow B, Ball LPersonal trainers are confident in their ability to provide nutrition care: a cross-sectional investigation. Public Health 2016, 140:39-44.

View Publications

Patient-centred care to improve dietetic practice: An integrative review.

Sladdin I, Ball L, Bull C, Chaboyer W.

Understanding the nutrition care needs of patients newly diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes

Ball L, Davmor R, Leveritt M, Desbrow B, Ehrlich C, Chaboyer W.

Personal trainers are confident in their ability to provide nutrition care: a cross-sectional investigation.

Barnes K, Desbrow B, Ball L.

Australian Practice Nurses’ Perceptions of Their Competency to Provide Nutrition Care to Patients Living with Chronic Disease.

Cass S, Ball L, Leveritt M.

Patients’ perceptions and experiences of patient-centred care in dietetic consultations.

Sladdin I, Chaboyer W, Ball L.

Additional Programs

I also contribute to numerous other programs of work using my expertise in primary care research, nutrition, exercise medicine and knowledge translation. Examples include: