Dr Eileen Dowse

Dr Eileen Dowse

Program Convenor

School of Nursing and Midwifery (Midwifery)

Better perinatal mental health for the whole family

Program Convenor for the Bachelor of Midwifery and Master of Midwifery Studies, Dr Eileen Dowse’s research is helping to discover how parents’ mental health affects their relationship with each other and their infants during those first critical years of life.

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Dr Eileen Dowse’s practice-based research is focused on improving family relationships and perinatal mental health by understanding how they reciprocally influence each other. Working with mothers, fathers and infants, her research projects show how mental health during a baby’s first 2,000 days can have long-lasting and multi-faceted effects on family health and wellbeing.

“I am interested in creating partnerships in research that optimise maternal, paternal, child and family health. My research work focuses on both maternal and paternal perinatal mental health and its impact on the infant/child and co-parenting relationship.”

Bridging nursing and midwifery

Eileen’s career trajectory has been shaped by both personal and professional experience. After pursuing a successful nursing career for more than a decade, Eileen added midwifery to her skillset in the early-1990s. The dual registration gave her a broad woman- and family-centred approach to helping families adapt to one of the greatest changes they’ll ever face: the birth of a child.

“The birth of my own children inspired me to undertake midwifery and here I found my true passion, caring for women and babies. While managing the needs of my own growing family, I commenced my first taste of tertiary study undertaking a Diploma in Child and Family Health Nursing. My career has built significantly from there, taking me into my first lecturing role with the University of Newcastle in 2011.”

While practising as a registered nurse and midwife, Eileen’s interest was piqued by the questions left unanswered, propelling her into the world of research. Eileen’s PhD, completed in 2016, explored the factors that impact on the ability of Child and Family Health Nurses (CFHNs) to partner with families, especially mothers, within often busy and complex healthcare environments. The research built on her 2006 Master of Nursing - Research project exploring the value of new parent groups offered in the CFHN service.

“My findings for both studies suggest that it can be difficult for CFHNs—and likely other health professionals—to maintain a partnership-focused, woman-centred model of interaction with competing intra-personal, organisational and government agendas.”

Let’s hear it for the dads

Eileen’s latest research, a collaboration with the Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium, is more specifically focused on understanding what makes dads tick, delivering much-needed insights into the under-researched issue of paternal wellbeing and mental health.

The research collaboration is driving several cutting-edge projects related to fatherhood, mental health, coping and sleep. Eileen is a co-investigator on two systematic reviews, and leading an Australian multi-site study, all of which aim to understand, from the father’s perspective, the nature of fathers’ sleepin families with a child aged between six and 36 months, who has been identified as having night-time sleep problems, and its impact on mental health and family functioning. The findings from this study will help shape the delivery and content of sleep interventions for dads.

“Much less is known about fathers’ mental health and their transition to parenthood compared with mothers. There are also less support options available and no consistent screening or treatment approaches for paternal perinatal mental health concerns. My research collaboration with the Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium aims to address this imbalance.”

By informing more effective sleep interventions for dads, Eileen’s collaborative research projects will help build a foundation of knowledge that can support improved mental health and family functioning.

Delivering high-quality education

Eileen is a highly valued and skilled educationalist for the University’s undergraduate and postgraduate midwifery programs. In 2018, her commitment and contribution to advancing the programs were recognised with a place on the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) Merit List for Teaching and Learning Excellence, which is based on exemplary program outcomes and student feedback.

“I enjoy working with both undergraduate and postgraduate students to navigate the complexities of their program and achieve success. Recruitment and retention of students is vital to the future of the national maternity workforce and the primary care of women and infants.

“It’s critical that our midwifery programs meet the needs of industry and our accrediting bodies and provide authentic, holistic experiences for our students.”

Eileen continuously researches ways to improve the quality and delivery of content for the University’s undergraduate and postgraduate midwifery students, ensuring that programs meet students’ evolving learning and career needs, as well as the demands of the future midwifery workforce. In 2018, Eileen helped drive a significant redesign of the Master of Midwifery Studies, which led to increased student enrolment and retention rates, and even prompted existing postgraduate students to switch into the revitalised program from other universities.

“My midwifery-focused research and higher degree supervision aim to improve the quality of the learning, teaching and clinical experiences of midwifery students who constitute our future workforce. The qualities, knowledge and skills of our graduates directly impact on the kind of care received by women and families and their outcomes during the childbearing continuum.”

Eileen’s love of research and life-long learning is infectious. Over the years, her example has inspired countless students to follow in her footsteps, contributing to a passionate and highly skilled midwifery workforce in Australia.

“I am humbled and gratified when a midwifery student, higher degree research candidate or graduate later tells me how something I said or did during my time with them influenced their decision to pursue research or a particular career path. That is wonderfully rewarding.

“I am very confident that midwifery work and research is in good hands with the high quality of our emerging new graduates and higher degree midwifery students. Our students are passionate advocates for the wellbeing of women and infants, and I am very glad to be able to play a small part in shaping their futures.”

Image of Eileen Dowse

Better perinatal mental health for the whole family

Program Convenor for the Bachelor of Midwifery and Master of Midwifery Studies, Dr Eileen Dowse’s research is helping to discover how parents’ mental health affects their relationship with each other and their infants during those first critical years of life.Dr…

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Career Summary

Biography

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Eileen Dowse is a Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife and Program Convenor for the University of Newcastle’s Bachelor of Midwifery and Master of Midwifery Studies. Her research interests are centred on the maternal and paternal experiences of childbirth, seeking to understand the reciprocal impact of family relationships and perinatal mental health.

Dr Dowse has worked as a nurse and midwife for more than three decades, including as the Greater Newcastle Child and Family Health Clinical Nurse Consultant for several years, followed by project officer and nurse manager roles. While working in clinical practice, Dr Dowse graduated from a Master of Nursing - Research, for which she explored the value of new parent groups offered in the Child and Family Health Nursing (CFHN) service. 

Dr Dowse’s Doctor of Philosophy (Nursing), completed in 2016, expanded on her earlier research work, investigating the factors that impact on the ability of CFHNs to work in the Family Partnership Model with mothers. Her collective findings suggest that it is often difficult for CFHNs, and likely other health professionals, to maintain a partnership-focused, woman-centred model of interaction with competing intra-personal, organisational and Ministry of Health agendas.

Dr Dowse commenced teaching into the nursing undergraduate program with the University of Newcastle in 2011, followed by the midwifery undergraduate program in 2013. In recent years, Dr Dowse has helped drive a substantial redesign of the Master of Midwifery Studies, which resulted in significantly increased student enrolment and retention rates and an added competitive advantage for the University’s already world-class postgraduate course.

Dr Dowse has steady research ties with the Australian Fatherhood Research Consortium. A strong advocate of collaborative research, her ongoing research interests include optimising the childbearing experience for women and their significant others, maternal and paternal perinatal mental health, fathers, parent-infant attachment, and mindfulness and its application to midwifery and CFHN education and practice. 




Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Certificate in Child & Family Hlth Nurs (Karitane), University of Western Sydney
  • Certificate in Health System Management, University of Western Sydney
  • Diploma in Child & Family Hlth Nursing (Karitane), University of Western Sydney
  • Graduate Diploma in Health Science (Womens Health), University of Newcastle
  • Master of Nursing, University of Newcastle
  • Registered Nurse, Nurses and Midwives Board of NSW
  • Registered Midwifery Nurse, Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Keywords

  • Child and family health
  • Midwifery
  • Mindfulness
  • Parenting
  • Paternal Perinatal Mental Health

Languages

  • English (Fluent)

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
111099 Nursing not elsewhere classified 20
111006 Midwifery 80

Professional Experience

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/07/2015 -  Program Convenor, Master of Midwifery Studies School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Newcastle
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Australia

Professional appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
5/03/2013 - 30/04/2017 Casual Midwife John Hunter Hospital New South Wales
Maternity and Gynaecology
Australia
5/09/2011 - 30/06/2013 Clinical Nurse Consultant Research (Grade 3) John Hunter Children Hospital
Australia
7/07/2009 - 24/12/2010 Nurse Manager Grade 4 - Service Development Coordinator, Child and Family Health Nursing (CFHN) Hunter New England Local Health District
Australia
4/02/2008 - 30/06/2009 Project Officer, Child and Family Health Nursing - Clinical Practice Standards Hunter Area Health Service
Northern Child Health Network
Australia
8/01/2001 - 21/01/2008 Clinical Nurse Consultant Child and Family Health Nursing Hunter Area Health Service
Kaleidoscope
Australia
8/02/1999 - 7/02/2000 Clinical Nurse Specialist-Child and Family Health Nursing Hunter Area Health Service
Australia
10/02/1997 - 30/12/1998 Child and Family Health Nurse Hunter Area Health Service
Australia
9/01/1995 - 27/12/1996 Family Care Midwife John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle
Obstetrics and Gynaecology
Australia
4/02/1991 - 31/12/1995 Midwife John Hunter Hospital New South Wales
Delivery Suite and Birth Centre
Australia
8/01/1990 - 4/02/1991 Student Midwife The Maitland and John Hunter Hospitals
Australia
7/02/1983 - 31/12/1990 Registered Nurse NSW Health
Australia
4/02/1980 - 7/02/1983 Student Nurse St Joseph's Hosptial, Auburn NSW
Australia

Teaching appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2019 -  Program Convenor, Bachelor of Midwifery School of Nursing and Midwifery University of Newcastle
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Highlighted Publications

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 Dowse E, Fletcher R, Macdonald J, Wynter K, Teague S, 'Dads matter too: the Australian fatherhood research consortium', Women and Birth, 32 S28-S29 (2019)
DOI 10.1016/j.wombi.2019.07.232

Journal article (10 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2019 Dowse E, Fletcher R, Macdonald J, Wynter K, Teague S, 'Dads matter too: the Australian fatherhood research consortium', Women and Birth, 32 S28-S29 (2019)
DOI 10.1016/j.wombi.2019.07.232
2019 Fealy S, Chan S, Wynne O, Dowse E, Ebert L, Ho R, et al., 'The Support for New Mums Project: A protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial designed to test a postnatal psychoeducation smartphone application', JOURNAL OF ADVANCED NURSING, 75 1347-1359 (2019)
DOI 10.1111/jan.13971
Co-authors Lyn Ebert, Shanna Fealy, Sally Chan, Olivia Wynne, Donovan Jones
2017 Fletcher R, Dowse E, St George J, Payling T, 'Mental health screening of fathers attending early parenting services in Australia', Journal of Child Health Care, 21 498-508 (2017) [C1]

© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Paternal perinatal depression and anxiety is a common, though under-recognized mental health condition experienced by men during their transition to ... [more]

© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017. Paternal perinatal depression and anxiety is a common, though under-recognized mental health condition experienced by men during their transition to fatherhood. An opportunity to screen for paternal mental health issues occurs when parents present for assistance with the care of their baby at early parenting services (EPSs). There are 10 EPSs located across Australia that provide specialist, multidisciplinary interventions to support parents experiencing complex parenting difficulties. Using structured telephone interviews, this qualitative study explored the views of 18 professional staff from nine EPSs regarding screening, referral processes and acceptability of screening fathers for mental health issues. A thematic analysis revealed that most EPSs screened fathers for depression. Participants agreed screening was important and that routine approaches to screening would help normalize the process for both men and services. Despite this, no uniform, comprehensive approach to identifying the mental health needs of fathers was found. EPSs provide a unique opportunity to address the mental health needs of fathers. Results from this study point to the need for a national approach to the development of father-specific screening guidelines for EPSs to improve family well-being, in parallel to those informing the Australian National Perinatal Mental Health Initiative for mothers.

DOI 10.1177/1367493517732166
Citations Scopus - 1
Co-authors Richard Fletcher, Jennifer Stgeorge
2016 Fletcher R, Dowse E, St George J, 'Screening dads for depression in Early Parenting Centres', Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal, 24 36-36 (2016)
Co-authors Richard Fletcher, Jennifer Stgeorge
2014 Fletcher R, Dowse EM, Hall P, Hopwood N, Bennett E, Erikson J, 'Identifying depressed fathers during a home visit: why and how.', Australian Journal of Child and Family Health Nursing, 11 5-9 (2014)
Co-authors Richard Fletcher
2014 Fletcher R, Dowse E, Bennett E, Chan W, O Brien A, Jones D, 'The paternal perinatal depression initiative', Australian Nursing & Midwifery Journal, 22 40-40 (2014)
Co-authors Tony Obrien, Donovan Jones, Sally Chan, Richard Fletcher
2014 Dowse EM, van der Riet P, Keatinge DR, 'A student's perspective of managing data collection in a complex qualitative study.', Nurse Res, 22 34-39 (2014) [C1]
DOI 10.7748/nr.22.2.34.e1302
Citations Scopus - 1
Co-authors Pamela Vanderriet
2013 Guest EM, Keatinge DR, Reed J, Johnson KR, Higgins HM, Greig J, 'Implementing and evaluating a professional practice framework in child and family health nursing: A pilot project', Nurse Education in Practice, 13 393-399 (2013) [C1]

Aim: This paper describes the implementation and evaluation of the NSW Child and Family Health Nursing Professional Practice Framework in one health district in New South Wales, A... [more]

Aim: This paper describes the implementation and evaluation of the NSW Child and Family Health Nursing Professional Practice Framework in one health district in New South Wales, Australia. Background: Child and family health nurses provide specialised, community based primary health care to families with children 0-5 years. A state wide professional practice framework was recently developed to support child and family health nurses. Methods: Online learning, clinical practice consultancies and skill assessments related to routine infant and child health surveillance were developed and implemented. Child and family health nurse reviewers gained competency in the various education and assessment components. Reviewers replicated this process in partnership with 21 child and family health nurses from two rural and one regional cluster. Evaluation questionnaires and focus groups were held with stakeholder groups. Findings: Participation provided nurses with affirmation of clinical practice and competency. Education and assessment processes were user friendly and particularly helpful for rural and remote nurses. Managers reported greater confidence in staff competence following project participation. Conclusion: Detailed planning and consultation is recommended before implementation of the Framework. Online learning, skills assessments and model of clinical practice consultancies were identified as central to ongoing orientation, education and professional development. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

DOI 10.1016/j.nepr.2012.11.004
Citations Scopus - 6Web of Science - 5
2010 Higgins IJ, Parker VT, Keatinge DR, Giles M, Winskill RA, Dowse EM, et al., 'Doing clinical research: The challenges and benefits', Contemporary Nurse, 35 171-181 (2010) [C1]
DOI 10.5172/conu.2010.35.2.171
Citations Scopus - 23Web of Science - 21
Co-authors Isabel Higgins
2009 Guest EM, Keatinge DR, 'The value of new parent groups in child and family health nursing', The Journal of Perinatal Education, 18 12-22 (2009) [C1]
DOI 10.1624/105812409x461180
Citations Web of Science - 11
Show 7 more journal articles

Conference (6 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2018 Prussing E, Browne G, Dowse E, Wilson A, 'Implementing midwifery continuity of care models in NSW regional areas', WOMEN AND BIRTH (2018)
DOI 10.1016/j.wombi.2018.08.026
Co-authors Graeme Browne
2017 Fealy S, Jones D, Ebert L, Dowse EM, Wynne O, Chan W, ' Supporting new Mums Developing a postnatal psycho-educational smartphone application for first time mothers', Supporting new Mums Developing a postnatal psycho-educational smartphone application for first time mothers, Adelaide, South Australia (2017)
DOI 10.1016/j.wombi.2017.08.079
Co-authors Lyn Ebert, Donovan Jones, Sally Chan, Shanna Fealy, Olivia Wynne
2016 Fealy S, Jones D, Ebert L, Dowse E, Wynne O, Zhang M, Chan S, 'Developing a Postnatal Psychoeducational smartphone application for first time mothers', Developing a Postnatal Psychoeducational smartphone application for first time mothers, HMRI (2016)
Co-authors Lyn Ebert, Sally Chan, Donovan Jones, Olivia Wynne, Shanna Fealy
2016 Dowse E, van der Riet P, Keatinge D, 'A Focused Ethnography of the Factors Influencing Child and Family Health Nurses' Ability to Work in Partnership With Parents', INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF QUALITATIVE METHODS (2016)
Co-authors Pamela Vanderriet
2013 Dowse EM, Johnson K, 'The NSW Child and Family Health Nursing Professional Practice Framework: From pilot to area implementation', The NSW Child and Family Health Nursing Professional Practice Framework: From pilot to area implementation, Canberra (2013)
2012 Dowse EM, Keatinge DR, Van Der Riet PJ, 'The factors influencing, and the nature of their impact, on the child and family health nurse's ability to work in partnership with parents', 23rd International Nursing Research Congress, Brisbane, Australia (2012) [E3]
Co-authors Pamela Vanderriet
Show 3 more conferences
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 5
Total funding $70,917

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20172 grants / $37,697

Supporting postnatal first-time mothers – An RCT of a new mobile$20,000

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Funding body Hunter Medical Research Institute
Project Team Professor Sally Chan, Doctor Lyn Ebert, Doctor Donovan Jones, Doctor Eileen Dowse, Ms Shanna Fealy
Scheme Project Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo G1700189
Type Of Funding C3120 - Aust Philanthropy
Category 3120
UON Y

An app-based postnatal psychoeducational program for first-time mothers – A randomized controlled trial$17,697

Funding body: Mid North Coast Local Health District

Funding body Mid North Coast Local Health District
Project Team Ms Shanna Fealy, Professor Sally Chan, Doctor Eileen Dowse, Doctor Donovan Jones, Doctor Olivia Wynne
Scheme Research Support Grant Program
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2017
Funding Finish 2017
GNo G1600633
Type Of Funding C2220 - Aust StateTerritoryLocal - Other
Category 2220
UON Y

20151 grants / $1,350

21st Qualitative Health Research Conference, Toronto Canada, 17-21 October 2015$1,350

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine
Project Team Doctor Eileen Dowse
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1500961
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

20142 grants / $31,870

UON Equity Research Fellowship$25,000

Funding body: The University of Newcastle

Funding body The University of Newcastle
Project Team

Eileen Dowse

Scheme UON Equity Research Scholarship
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

UON Equity Grant$6,870

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team

Eileen Dowse

Scheme UON Equity Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N
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Research Supervision

Number of supervisions

Completed0
Current3

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title Program Supervisor Type
2019 PhD Can a Continuity of Antenatal/Postnatal Model of Undergraduate Clinical Education Increase Student Midwife Engagement and the Development of Relevant Clinical Skills? PhD (Midwifery), Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle Principal Supervisor
2019 PhD A Descriptive Study on Women Perceptions and Satisfaction about Nurses/Midwives Care During Perinatal Period in Eastern Province, KSA PhD (Midwifery), Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
2016 PhD Exploring the Development and Implementation of a Model of Midwifery Continuity of Care in a Regional Australian City PhD (Midwifery), Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle Co-Supervisor
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Dr Eileen Dowse

Position

Program Convenor
Midwifery
School of Nursing and Midwifery
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Focus area

Midwifery

Contact Details

Email eileen.dowse@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 4921 6746
Fax (02) 4921 6301

Office

Room RW 225
Building Richardson Wing
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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