Lisa Bourke holds a Masters from Utah State University and a PhD from Penn State University in Rural Sociology. She has researched rural communities in Australia and the U.S. for almost 25 years. Since joining the University of Melbourne in 2000, her research interests have focused on rural health and the wellbeing of young people living in rural communities. She uses multiple research paradigms and methods to undertake rural research in sociological, public health and multidisciplinary ways.
With colleagues from Monash University, Flinders University and University of South Australia, Lisa has led the development of a conceptual framework of rural and remote health in Australia to understand the factors influencing rural health. This provides an understanding of how macro and local level processes together shape rural health outcomes. Lisa also uses Ken Wilkinson's 'community interactional theory' of rural communities and his focus on strong and weak ties to explain social relations in rural communities. Lisa's projects have included studies of community-driven health services, the needs of specific groups of health consumers and relationships among young people living in small towns. Her current projects focus on utilisation of the conceptual framework she developed for rural and remote health, the role of power in rural and remote health and sexual health among young rural residents.