The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Karen Martin

Dr Karen Martin

Research Fellow
Population Health, School of

Contact details
School of Population Health
The University of Western Australia (M431)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 1267
+61 8 6488 1188
BSc PhD W.Aust.
Dr. Karen Martin has completed health research within the fields of mental health, physical activity, screen technology use, overweight and obesity and palliative care. With close to $2 million received in project funding, Karen has completed research in a diverse range of settings including schools, prisons, hospitals and the community. Karen is dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of vulnerable and marginalised populations, with a focus on youth.
In 2013, Karen commenced a Healthway Postdoctoral Research Fellowship. Her research program incorporates examining the mental health of vulnerable children and adolescents and includes research that explores post-traumatic stress disorder, mental health services, interventions and antisocial behaviour. She has a particular interest in restorative practice and compassionate school culture in schools.
Due to her parallel interest in disadvantaged adult populations, Karen, with colleagues, recently completed an intervention study in Western Australian prisons. This study examined the effectiveness of Holyoake’s DRUMBEAT program on prisoner mental wellbeing and psychological distress.
Investigating the relationship between the school social and physical environment and children’s school time physical activity, Karen’s PhD project was completed within 27 primary schools. She was also a chief investigator on the WA State-wide 2008 Child and Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (CAPANs).
Commissioned by government agencies, Karen has completed stakeholder initiated consultancies, including; 1) benefits of physical activity for children’s physical, mental and social health, and learning, 2) relationship between screen technology use and children's health and, 3) Rio Tinto Naturescape at Kings Park Observational Study (with Associate Professor Lisa Wood and Dr May Carter). Karen has also recently completed a program of research examining children’s play space preferences; outcomes from this research were principal contributors to the City of Subiaco Playspace strategy and the Play Space Guide.
Interested in fostering interstate and international collaborations, Karen’s vision is to play an active role in implementing and evaluating innovative strategies to improve the mental health and wellbeing of disadvantaged populations.
Key research
Post-traumatic stress disorder, psychological distress and antisocial behaviour in disadvantaged adolescents,
Systematic review; school programs for youth experiencing mental health issues in disadvantaged secondary schools,
Evaluation of DRUMBEAT for mental well-being promotion in vulnerable and disadvantaged youth,
The Impact of Holyoake’s DRUMBEAT Program on Prisoner Wellbeing in Western Australian Prisons,
Screen Use and Mental Health From Ages 8-18: A Sequential Latent Growth Model
Children's physical activity in the school setting (PhD).
Child and Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (CAPANS) 2008.
Child's play; child, parent and stakeholders' perspectives of playspaces.
Relationship between children's learning, behaviour and development and physical activity.
Benefits of nature for children.
Invited book chapters
Martin K, Wood L, ‘We live here too’… what makes a child friendly neighbourhood?’’ in Eds Cooper R, Burton E, Cooper G, Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide, Volume II, Wellbeing and the Environment 2014 Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford. ISBN: 978-1-118-60837-1

Published refereed manuscripts
Martin K, Wood L, Houghton S, et al ‘I don’t have the best life’: A Qualitative Exploration of Adolescent Loneliness” Child and Adolescent Behavior (In press, accepted 20/10/2014)
Martin K, Bremner A, Salmon S, et al, Physical, policy and socio-cultural characteristics of the primary school environment are positively associated with children's physical activity during class-time Journal of Physical Activity and Health 2014, 11 (3)
Martin K, Wood L, Christian H, Trapp G, Not just “a walking the dog”: dog walking and pet play and their association with recommended physical activity among adolescents American Journal of Health Promotion 2014 online first; 140827081808001
Wood L, Carter M, Martin K. Dispelling stereotypes…skateparks as a setting for pro-social behavior among young people. Current Urban Studies 2014, 2 (1). DOI:10.4236/cus.2014.21007
Houghton S, Hattie J, Wood L, Martin K, Carroll A. Conceptualizing loneliness in adolescents: development and validation of a self-report instrument. Child Psychiatry and Human Development; 2013 DOI: 10.1007/s10578-013-0429-z
Martin K, Rosenberg M, Pratt I, et al, Prevalence of overweight and obesity in Western Australia in School-aged Children; 2008 compared with 2003 Public Health Nutrition 2013, doi:10.1017/S136898001300311X
Martin K, Bremner A, Salmon S, et al, School and individual-level characteristics are associated with children’s moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity during school recess Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health 2012, 36; 469-77
Pereira G, Foster S, Martin K, et al, The association between neighborhood greenness and cardiovascular disease: an observational study BMC Public Health 2012, 12:466
Trapp G, Giles-Corti B, Martin K, et al Conducting field research in a primary school setting: methodological considerations for maximising response rates, data quality & quantity. Health Education Journal 2011; Jun 20
Martin K, Association between participation in organised community sport and recreation and academic achievement Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2007 (Supp1) 10(1):149
Martin K, Giles-Corti B, Rosenberg M, McCaul K, Salmon J, Active Schools = Active Kids Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport 2005 (Supp) 8(4):249
McCormack G, Giles-Corti B, Lange A., Smith T, Martin K, Pikora T. An update of recent evidence of the relationship between objective and self-report measures of the physical environment and physical activity behaviours. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2004; 7 (1 Suppl): 81-92.

Roles, responsibilities and expertise
- Identify research gaps, priorities and opportunities within individual research field
-Prepare literature reviews and proposals, seek and apply for grants
-Seek appropriate research approvals including Institutional Ethics
- Coordinate data collection and supervise staff
- Prepare and analyse data and prepare manuscripts
-Disseminate research via conferences and directly to stakeholders
-Liaise with the media, providing television, radio and newspaper interviews in disseminating research
-Apply research findings in health and well-being advocacy
Future research
Restorative and trauma-informed practice and student well-being in disadvantaged secondary schools.

Funding received
1.Martin K, Mental health, delinquent and health behaviours in vulnerable youth populations Healthway Postdoctoral Fellowship $314 951
2.Houghton S, Rosenberg M, Wood L, Shilton T, Martin K, Screen Use and Mental Health From Ages 8-18: A Sequential Latent Growth Model, Healthway, $355,591
3.Carter M, Wood L, Martin K, Wallace A, Seymour W, Hollins A, Development of Playspace Strategy, Tender, City of Subiaco, 2012 $49 500
4. Wood L, Christian H, Martin K, Houghton S, Kawachi I, French S Pet Connections: The Role of Companion Animals as Facilitators of Social Capital and Sense Of Community, Waltham, 2012 $277 824
5.Wood L, Martin K, Carter M, Rio Tinto Naturescape at Kings Park Observational Study 2011 Botanical Gardens and Parks Authority $10 000
6.Martin K, Wood L, Carter M, Childs Play - Factors that Encourage Play in Neighbourhood Parks & Playgrounds, Healthway Starter Grant, 2010 $30 000
7.Wood L, Martin K, Carter M, Child’s Play Exploration of the Factors That Encourage Play in Neighbourhood Parks and Playgrounds. Botanical Gardens and Parks Authority 2010 $10 000
8.Rosenberg M, Martin K, Mills C, Braham R, McCormack G, Graham V, Grove R. Physical Activity Adult Survey Premier’s Physical Activity Taskforce 2009 $164 945
9.Rosenberg M, Martin K, Miller M. Child and Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey: 2008 Premier’s Physical Activity Taskforce 2008 $546 908
10.Wood L, Martin K, Rosenberg M. Treat or Trap Healthway Starter Grant 2007 $19 949
11.Martin K, Doctor of Philosophy Scholarship Healthway 2004-2007
12.Martin K, Giles-Corti B. The ACTIVE Schools Project The Department of Education and Training, Government of Western Australia 2006 $60 000
13.Giles-Corti B, Martin K, Accelerometers and Support Equipment National Health and Medical Research Council (NH&MRC) Equipment Grant 2005 $21 411
14.Martin K, Giles-Corti B, McCaul K, Salmon J. School Environment and Policy Correlates of Physical Activity in Schools, Healthway 2004 $19 624
Industrial relevance
Project industry partners:
Department of Education, Government of Western Australia
Australian Secondary Principals Association
Mental Health Commission
Department of Sport and Recreation
Botanic Gardens and Parks Authority
City of Subiaco
Department of Corrective Services

Honours and awards
Fay Gale Travel Fellowship
Jan Watt Memorial Prize for Excellence in Public Health Field Research
Previous positions
Sessional Lecturer, Curtin University of Technology
Research Project Coordinator, University of Western Australia and Edith Cowan University
Research Facilitator, Hollywood Private Hospital
Bistatistics 180, Curtin University of Technology
Research methods, Curtin University of Technology
Health Science Communication, Curtin University of Technology
Useful links
The ACTIVE Schools Project (Characteristics associated with children’s moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity during school)
Loneliness in children;
Child's Play;
Nature benefits for children;
Full report:
Child and Adolescent Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (CAPANS) 2008;
Treat or trap;
Google scholar citations page:
Current projects
Restorative practice in secondary schools; exploring school leaders and teacher perceptions.
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM