Research projects

Our research aims to help shape policy and practice to better protect people from the harmful effects of work, while fostering its health-promoting qualities. While we've found that healthy workers are more productive, poor working conditions continue to be a major contributor to illness and injury burdens, as well as health inequalities in Australia and abroad.


Main areas of research

Our main areas of research include:

  • social epidemiology 
  • intervention development, implementation, and evaluation 
  • mental health 
  • health equity
  • occupational health and safety 
  • health promotion 
  • psychosocial working conditions or job stressors.

Improving working conditions can improve mental health

A recent study conducted by the unit made use of a large national survey – called the Household Income & Labour Dynamics in Australia study or HILDA – that has been collecting data once a year since 2001. An analysis of over 13,000 Australian workers showed that when job control increased, mental health increased as well. Job control is defined as a person’s latitude for decision-making on their job combined with their ability to apply a variety of skills in their work. 

This type of study, called a ‘natural experiment’, is not as rigorous as an experimental study (e.g. randomised controlled trial), but is far better at representing the experience of the working population at large. 

While previous research has established the detrimental influence of deteriorating job control, our findings suggest that actions to improve job control can yield significant improvements in mental health.


Bentley RJ, Kavanagh A, Krnjacki L, LaMontagne AD (2015): A longitudinal analysis of changes in job control and mental health, American J Epidemiol. 182(4): 328-334 doi: 10.1093/aje/kwv046.

Contact us

For more information about this stream of our research, please contact the Work, Health and Wellbeing Unit.

Work, Health and Wellbeing Unit
Professor Tony LaMontagne
+61 3 9244 6802
Email Professor LaMontagne