Senior Research Officer
Alanna is a Senior Research Officer at the Telethon Kids Institute. Her research takes a population health approach to ensuring all children are supported to reach their developmental potential.
Since joining the Institute in 2013, Alanna has worked across a range of projects in Australia and internationally, spanning early childhood education, population monitoring of children’s development, child and adolescent wellbeing, stunting and school feeding interventions, early years pedagogy, school readiness assessment, parenting interventions, as well as health and development among children with a culturally and linguistically diverse background, and children experiencing disability or complex needs.
Completed in 2022, Alanna’s PhD research sought to improve population measurement and monitoring of children's early development in low- and middle-income countries. Her project focused on the early Human Capability Index, capturing holistic early child development across diverse cultures. Alanna coordinated adaptation of instrumentation to local context, in country training and data collection, and analysis and reporting on data into scientific outputs and policy briefs, leading to significantly greater investments in child health and development in these countries.
Internationally, Alanna consults for the World Bank, working with global teams on the design, implementation, and impact evaluation of child health, development, and education interventions in low- and middle-income countries. An example is the Early Childhood Education Project in Lao PDR, a large-scale clustered randomised controlled trial supporting expansion of quality early education to improve children’s development across the country.
Alanna brings expertise in research design, program evaluation, evidence synthesis, cross-cultural research, psychometric assessment of measurement instruments, and research translation to inform policy. She sits on the Public Health Association of Australia SA Branch Executive Committee and the International Health committee, demonstrating her commitment to public health advocacy. Alanna is passionate about student mentoring and is available for supervision of postgraduate students.
Prevalence of electronic device use before bed among Australian children and adolescents: a cross-sectional population level study
To understand the prevalence of children and adolescents’ electronic device use (EDU) in the hour before bed and identify sociodemographic groups that are at increased risk of problematic use.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Neurodevelopment and Mental HealthApril 2022
Prevalence of breakfast skipping among children and adolescents: a cross-sectional population level study
Interventions to promote breakfast consumption are a popular strategy to address early life inequalities. It is important to understand the epidemiology of children and adolescents who skip breakfast so that interventions and policy can be appropriately considered.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Childhood Development NutritionDecember 2021
Breakfast skipping and cognitive and emotional engagement at school: A cross-sectional population level study
Research on the consequences of breakfast skipping among students tends to focus on academic outcomes, rather than student wellbeing or engagement at school. This study investigated the association between breakfast skipping and cognitive and emotional aspects of school engagement.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Nutrition School AttendanceAugust 2021
Basic epidemiology of wellbeing among children and adolescents: A cross-sectional population level study
Wellbeing and mental health are fundamental rights of children and adolescents essential for sustainable development. Understanding the epidemiology of child and adolescent wellbeing is essential to informing population health approaches to improving wellbeing and preventing mental illness.Published research Child Health, Development & Education School Attendance Early Neurodevelopment and Mental Health Youth mental healthAugust 2020
Associations Among Early Stimulation, Stunting, and Child Development in Four Countries in the East Asia–Pacific
This study examined associations among preschool attendance, home learning activities, stunting status, and early child development using data from the validation study of the East Asia–Pacific Early Child Development Scales (EAP-ECDS).Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Childhood Development School AttendanceJune 2020
Measuring early child development in low and middle income countries: Investigating the validity of the early Human Capability Index
Inclusion of early child development in the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda raises issues of how this goal should be monitored, particularly in low resource settings. The aim of this paper was to explore the validity of the early Human Capability Index (eHCI); a population measure designed to capture the holistic development of children aged 3-5 years. Convergent, divergent, discriminant and concurrent validity were examined by exploring the associations between eHCI domains and child (sex, age, stunting status, preschool attendance) and family (maternal education, home learning environment) characteristics. Analyses were repeated using data from seven low and middle income countries.Published research Child Health, Development & Education Early Childhood DevelopmentMay 2020
Overcoming challenges in measuring early childhood development across cultures
These challenges in measuring early childhood development are exacerbated when making comparisons across culturesPublished research Child Health, Development & EducationMay 2020
Exploring Associations Between Playgroup Attendance and Early Childhood Development at School Entry in Australia: A Cross-Sectional Population-Level Study
Children who attended playgroup had better development at school entry relative to those who had not attended playgroupPublished research Child Health, Development & EducationDecember 2019
Measuring early childhood development in multiple contexts: the internal factor structure and reliability of the early Human Capability Index in seven countries
Findings support the aims of the early Human Capability Index in being adaptable and applicable for use within a range of low and middle income countriesPublished research Child Health, Development & Education Early Childhood DevelopmentFebruary 2019
Assessing Diversity in Early Childhood Development in the East Asia-Pacific
In all six countries, child development scores increased with age and urban children consistently performed better than rural childrenPublished research Child Health, Development & EducationApril 2019
Early childhood education and child development in four countries in East Asia and the Pacific
Results indicate that early childhood education is beneficial for children's early developmentPublished research Child Health, Development & EducationOctober 2018
Socioeconomic status and early child development in East Asia and the Pacific: The protective role of parental engagement in learning activities
Results indicated the existence of SES gradients in early development in multiple domains in China, Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste, and VanuatuPublished research Child Health, Development & EducationFebruary 2018
The social impacts of mining on local communities in Australia
Mining developments are being required to consider how they affect local communities and implement strategies to minimise negative impacts they may be causingPublished research Child Health, Development & Education
Education and Qualifications