• Health services 
  • Intellectual disability 
  • Medical education 

Location:  Mater Research Institute

Type of student: PhD or MPhil only (includes intercalated PhD & MPhil and Concurrent MPhil), Volunteer/extra-curricular (this would be similar to an Honours project), Honours students, 4 Unit Masters of Public Health (MPHS) Student.

Type of work: 

  • Literature review 
  • Qualitative methods 
  • Secondary data analysis 
  • Systematic review 

Brief synopsis:

In comparison to the general population, adults on the autism spectrum experience higher rates of a range of physical and mental health conditions. The health disparities become even greater when the adult on the spectrum has co-occurring intellectual disability. Many adults on the spectrum experience barriers to accessing healthcare resulting in unmet healthcare needs.

To address this gap, our team are taking two approaches to improve the way healthcare is delivered to adults on the spectrum with and without intellectual disability.

First, we are developing health resources and tools for adults on the spectrum, their support people and health professionals. These will be posted on our website, the Health Hub ( However, feedback from end-users of the website demonstrates there are areas that are inaccessible, particularly for adults on the spectrum with intellectual disability, or need improvement. One of our recent projects made several design recommendations on how the website could be improved to better meet the needs of adults on the spectrum with intellectual disability. Additionally, QCIDD has research findings that need to be translated into health information resources for adults on the spectrum, their support people and health professionals, in line with these recommendations.

Second, we are developing education and training for medical students and health professionals to improve knowledge and skills about autism and health. We have developed an online module aimed at medical students which requires final revisions before the module can be promoted and evaluated. A student may be able to finalise revisions, apply for ethics, develop promotional strategies and help with the evaluation. An online module aimed at nurses is also in development; students would be able to work on any aspect of this project.

We are also happy to work with students to identify a project around health and wellbeing for autistic adults in the student’s area of interest.

Prerequisite skills:  Ability or willingness to learn how to convey health information in an accessible format for adults on the autism spectrum with and without intellectual disability and apply principles of easy English

Time frame: N/A



Dr Katie Brooker

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Mater Research Institute-UQ