ResearchThe Department of Behavioral Medicine has an active research profile that dates back to the formation of the Department. In this respect the Department is quite unique because, unlike other national departments also responsible for providing Clinical Psychology services at state health care facilities, research and academic publications are significant outputs in the Department. As a result, the Department’s research output stands tall relative to similar departments across the country.

The Department has an open approach to research programmes and directions, allowing its academic staff the opportunity to develop and conduct research in areas of their interest. This has resulted in the Departmental research tracks mirroring the rich diversity of our country.

The following are some of the research tracks:

• Neuropsychology

• Trauma

• Stress

• Clinical Psychology Training

• Suicidology

• Forensic Psychology

• Clinical Health Psychology

• Medically Applied Psychology

• Women & Children’s Mental Health

• Men’s Mental Health

• Community Psychology

• Mental Health Service Provision

The Department welcomes research collaboration with academic institutions around the world, and currently partners with numerous institutions in conducting and publishing scientific research that is relevant and benefits the national and global community. The Department of Behavioral Medicine also has visiting academics and researchers spending sabbaticals in the Department and undertaking collaborative research with staff. In addition to established research partnerships with many South African institutions, collaborations exist with the following international partners:

Wake Forest University, USA

University of Oslo

University of Bergen 

Alliant University, USA

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), USA

University of Mauritius, Mauritius 

Project CARE is a research study which will be undertaken by the Department of Behavioural Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.

Project CARE is a research study with maternal caregivers and youth designed to learn more about what things help young people cope best with problems and stress, including the stress of experiencing, witnessing, and hearing about community violence; the stress of living in disadvantaged communities; family problems such as illness; and everyday problems that young people face.   We are very interested in why some youth become depressed or aggressive, or turn to alcohol and drugs to cope with stress, or engage in other risky behaviors, while other youth do not.  We are trying to understand if there are ways that youth react to stress and cope with stress that make it easier or harder to engage in healthy versus risky behavior.  We are quite interested in how caregivers and families contribute to youth’s coping with and adjustment to stress. We are interested in the reasons youth thrive and succeed in spite of risk.




School of Nursing and Pubic Health

Researcher: Dr Andrew Ross

Designation: Principal Specialist and Senior lecturer

Study: The Learning Experiences of Rural Origin Health Care Professionals at Institutions of Higher Learning.

Summary:  The study aimed to understand the educational experiences of health care graduates from rural areas.  It examined significant events in the lives of pharmacists, doctors, physiotherapists and clinical psychologists. Ross believes such students deserve special support, training and development. 


Health Outcomes Research Unit

The Health Outcomes Research Unit (HORU) was established to carry out outcomes research for all sectors of the healthcare industry and to strengthen capacity within the fields of health outcomes and in particular health- and pharmaco-economics.

The Unit’s specific goals include:


¨      Working with health care institutions to develop and implement projects that reflect our continued commitment to health for all;


¨      Evaluating, assessing, reporting and making recommendations, where appropriate, to improve institutions’ efficiency performance in meeting it’s obligations;


¨      Conducting research and monitoring international developments that may impact on health service delivery, and developing strategies;


¨      Working and consulting with key stakeholders including the community, private and related agencies, in order to be at the forefront of issues that may affect the public;


¨      Raising public and government awareness of the impact of emerging trends in health sectors globally, and utilizing a range of methods to effectively reach diverse audiences


The Unit’s primary goal is to undertake health outcomes research, and strengthening health/pharmaeconomics capacity within the University and at the provincial and national levels.  As a Unit we hope to grow and thrive as a major research and teaching unit and also and continue to contribute to capacity building.

Click here to view the unit’s profile