Dr Sacha Kendall is a qualitative health researcher and experienced social worker. Her research investigates social, cultural and ethical aspects of health across diverse contexts with a focus on marginalised populations. She is passionate about promoting qualitative approaches to understanding health and addressing health inequity. Her current research investigates the health of incarcerated Aboriginal women and issues for prison health care providers.
Orcid number: 0000-0002-3627-827X
UNSW Research Excellence Award (2008)
Australian Postgraduate Award (2008)
UNSW University Medal (2005)
Can supervise: YES
Sacha's research focuses on the moral-political activity of professional work in mental health treatment contexts and the relevance of listening to the experiences of service users and professionals for conceptualising and supporting professional practice and improving health outcomes.
Sacha is passionate about promoting qualitative approaches to understanding health and addressing health inequity. Sacha’s research has aimed to elucidate the social and structural dimensions of health and their implications for health service users and service providers. Her research focuses on the lived experiences of marginalised populations, particularly people with mental health disorders and people who have had contact with the criminal justice system, to understand their challenges in navigating complex health and social care systems.
With a social work background and experience as a practitioner in acute adult mental health services, her strengths lie in applying qualitative, reflexive and participatory research methods to produce research outcomes that are directly relevant to practice.
Sacha has extensive undergraduate teaching experience in the social sciences, with a particular focus in social work, mental health and social and emotional wellbeing, ethics and reflective practice, and research methods.
Kendall, S, Lighton, S, Sherwood, J, Baldry, E & Sullivan, EA 2020, 'Incarcerated aboriginal women's experiences of accessing healthcare and the limitations of the 'equal treatment' principle.', International journal for equity in health, vol. 19, no. 1.View/Download from: Publisher's site
BACKGROUND:Colonization continues in Australia, sustained through institutional and systemic racism. Targeted discrimination and intergenerational trauma have undermined the health and wellbeing of Australia's Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population, leading to significantly poorer health status, social impoverishment and inequity resulting in the over-representation of Aboriginal people in Australian prisons. Despite adoption of the 'equal treatment' principle, on entering prison in Australia entitlements to the national universal healthcare system are revoked and Aboriginal people lose access to health services modelled on Aboriginal concepts of culturally safe healthcare available in the community. Incarcerated Aboriginal women experience poorer health outcomes than incarcerated non-Indigenous women and Aboriginal men, yet little is known about their experiences of accessing healthcare. We report the findings of the largest qualitative study with incarcerated Aboriginal women in New South Wales (NSW) Australia in over 15 years. METHODS:We employed a decolonizing research methodology, 'community collaborative participatory action research', involving consultation with Aboriginal communities prior to the study and establishment of a Project Advisory Group (PAG) of community expert Aboriginal women to guide the project. Forty-three semi-structured interviews were conducted in 2013 with Aboriginal women in urban and regional prisons in NSW. We applied a grounded theory approach for the data analysis with guidance from the PAG. RESULTS:Whilst Aboriginal women reported positive and negative experiences of prison healthcare, the custodial system created numerous barriers to accessing healthcare. Aboriginal women experienced institutional racism and discrimination in the form of not being listened to, stereotyping, and inequitable healthcare compared with non-Indigenous women in prison and the community. CONCLUSIONS:'Equal treatment' is an inappropriate strat...
Kendall, S, Lighton, S, Sherwood, J, Baldry, E & Sullivan, E 2019, 'Holistic Conceptualizations of Health by Incarcerated Aboriginal Women in New South Wales, Australia.', Qualitative health research, vol. 29, no. 11, pp. 1549-1565.View/Download from: Publisher's site
While there has been extensive research on the health and social and emotional well-being (SEWB) of Aboriginal women in prison, there are few qualitative studies where incarcerated Aboriginal women have been directly asked about their health, SEWB, and health care experiences. Using an Indigenous research methodology and SEWB framework, this article presents the findings of 43 interviews with incarcerated Aboriginal women in New South Wales, Australia. Drawing on the interviews, we found that Aboriginal women have holistic conceptualizations of their health and SEWB that intersect with the SEWB of family and community. Women experience clusters of health problems that intersect with intergenerational trauma, perpetuated and compounded by ongoing colonial trauma including removal of children. Women are pro-active about their health but encounter numerous challenges in accessing appropriate health care. These rarely explored perspectives can inform a reframing of health and social support needs of incarcerated Aboriginal women establishing pathways for healing.
Sullivan, E, Ward, S, Zeki, R, Wayland, S, Sherwood, J, Wang, A, Worner, F, Kendall, S, Brown, J & Chang, S 2019, 'Recidivism, health and social functioning following release to the community of NSW prisoners with problematic drug use: study protocol of the population-based retrospective cohort study on the evaluation of the Connections Program.', BMJ open, vol. 9, no. 7, pp. e030546-e030546.View/Download from: Publisher's site
INTRODUCTION:The rising rate of incarceration in Australia, driven by high reoffending, is a major public health problem. Problematic drug use is associated with increasing rates of reoffending and return to custody of individuals. Throughcare provides support to individuals during imprisonment through to post-release, improving both the transition to community and health outcomes post-incarceration. The aim of this study is to evaluate the Connections Programme (CP) that utilises a throughcare approach for release planning of people in prison with a history of problematic drug use. The study protocol is described. METHODS AND ANALYSIS:Population-based retrospective cohort study. The study will use record linkage of the Connections dataset with 10 other New South Wales (NSW) population datasets on offending, health service utilisation, opioid substitution therapy, pregnancy, birth and mortality. The study includes all patients who were eligible to participate in the CP between January 2008 and December 2015 stratified by patients who were offered CP and eligible patients who were not offered the programme (non-CP (NCP)). Propensity-score matching will be used to appropriately adjust for the observable differences between CP and NCP. The differences between two groups will be examined using appropriate univariate and multivariate analyses. A generalised estimating equation approach, which can deal with repeat outcomes for individuals will be used to examine recidivism, mortality and other health outcomes, including perinatal and infant outcomes. Survival analysis techniques will be used to examine the effect of the CP by sex and Indigenous status on the 'time-to' health-related outcomes after adjusting for potential confounders. ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION:Ethical approval was received from the NSW Population and Health Services Research Ethics Committee, the Justice Health and Forensic Mental Health Network Human Research Ethics Committee, the Aboriginal Health and ...
Sullivan, EA, Kendall, S, Chang, S, Baldry, E, Zeki, R, Gilles, M, Wilson, M, Butler, T, Levy, M, Wayland, S, Cullen, P, Jones, J & Sherwood, J 2019, 'Aboriginal mothers in prison in Australia: a study of social, emotional and physical wellbeing.', Australian and New Zealand journal of public health, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 241-247.View/Download from: Publisher's site
OBJECTIVE:To describe the social, emotional and physical wellbeing of Aboriginal mothers in prison. METHODS:Cross-sectional survey, including a Short Form Health Survey (SF-12) and Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (5-item version) administered to Aboriginal women who self-identified as mothers. RESULTS:Seventy-seven Aboriginal mothers in New South Wales (NSW) and 84 in Western Australia (WA) participated in the study. Eighty-three per cent (n=59) of mothers in NSW were in prison for drug-related offences, 64.8% (n=46) of mothers in WA were in prison for offences committed under the influence of alcohol. Sixty-eight per cent (n=52) of mothers in NSW and 35% (n=28) of mothers in WA reported mental health problems. Physical (PCS) and Mental (MCS) component scores of SF-12 varied for mothers in NSW and WA. Mothers in NSW experienced poorer health and functioning than mothers in WA (NSW: PCS 49.5, MCS 40.6; WA: PCS 54.4, MCS 48.3) and high levels of psychological distress (NSW: 13.1; WA 10.1). CONCLUSIONS:Aboriginal mothers in prison have significant health needs associated with physical and mental health, and psychological distress. Implications for public health: Adoption of social and emotional wellbeing as an explanatory framework for culturally secure healthcare in prison is essential to improving health outcomes of Aboriginal mothers in prison in Australia.
Kendall, S, Redshaw, S, Ward, S, Wayland, S & Sullivan, E 2018, 'Systematic review of qualitative evaluations of reentry programs addressing problematic drug use and mental health disorders amongst people transitioning from prison to communities.', Health & justice, vol. 6.View/Download from: Publisher's site
The paper presents a systematic review and metasynthesis of findings from qualitative evaluations of community reentry programs. The programs sought to engage recently released adult prison inmates with either problematic drug use or a mental health disorder.Seven biomedical and social science databases, Cinahl, Pubmed, Scopus, Proquest, Medline, Sociological abstracts and Web of Science and publisher database Taylor and Francis were searched in 2016 resulting in 2373 potential papers. Abstract reviews left 140 papers of which 8 were included after detailed review. Major themes and subthemes were identified through grounded theory inductive analysis of results from the eight papers. Of the final eight papers the majority (6) were from the United States. In total, the papers covered 405 interviews and included 121 (30%) females and 284 (70%) males.Findings suggest that the interpersonal skills of case workers; access to social support and housing; and continuity of case worker relationships throughout the pre-release and post-release period are key social and structural factors in program success.Evaluation of community reentry programs requires qualitative data to contextualize statistical findings and identify social and structural factors that impact on reducing incarceration and improving participant health. These aspects of program efficacy have implications for reentry program development and staff training and broader social and health policy and services.
Kendall, S & Reid, E 2017, 'Person-centred acute hospital care for older people transitioning to residential aged care- whose needs are being met?', Ethics and Social Welfare, pp. 1-12.View/Download from: Publisher's site
© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group The acute health care system in Australia, as in the global north, has been increasingly dominated by neoliberal market principles prioritising efficiency and cost reduction. This has occurred in conjunction with a shift towards 'personalised care' models in health and social services. Personalised care models are intended to support the provision of holistic health care and consumer choice. Yet, the bureaucratic context of acute health care produces constrained applications of person-centred care that can undermine patient participation. Personalised care models have been criticised for diminishing the choices available to socioeconomically disadvantaged groups. There has been scant attention to these equity issues and ethical implications of the model for older people transferring from acute hospital settings to residential aged care. This is significant, as this major life event is associated with social- and identity-related losses; can produce poor health outcomes; and is affecting an increasing population of older people. The aim of this paper is to address this gap in the debate through a critical literature review applying Tronto's critical ethics of care. We highlight the current Australian context for this patient group and the transferability of palliative care models as an example for change in practice and resource allocation.
Kendall, S & Hugman, R 2016, 'Power/Knowledge and the Ethics of Involuntary Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa in Context: A Social Work Contribution to the Debate', The British Journal of Social Work, vol. 46, no. 3, pp. 686-702.View/Download from: Publisher's site
This paper reports on an ethnographic study conducted in two eating disorders treatment settings in New South Wales, Australia. The study set out to make a social work contribution to the debate on the ethics of involuntary treatment for anorexia nervosa (AN) drawing on the authors' practice experience. An empirical ethics approach was taken to support a reflective process of theorising from practice focused on how the treatment decision-making context is relevant for ethics. Three key issues of relevance for social work and the ethics debate were revealed: (i) the operation of power, knowledge and values affirms particular knowledge during treatment decision making that may justify the use of paternalism; (ii) particular knowledge and values are privileged in the treatment environment and associated with 'good practice' and 'professionalism'. This may or may not promote the core social work values of 'empowerment', 'participation' and 'self-determination'; (iii) the operation of power, knowledge and values has implications for the patient–professional relationship that may be counterproductive to recovery from AN.
This paper argues that there is a relationship
between understandings of anorexia
nervosa (AN) and how the ethical issues associated
with involuntary treatment for AN are identified,
framed, and addressed. By positioning AN as
a construct/discourse (hereinafter "AN: the diagnosis")
several ethical issues are revealed. Firstly,
"AN: the diagnosis" influences how the autonomy
and competence of persons diagnosed with AN
are understood by decision-makers in the treatment
environment. Secondly, "AN: the diagnosis"
impacts on how treatment and treatment efficacy
are defined and the ethical justifiability of paternalism.
Thirdly, "AN: the diagnosis" can limit the
opportunity for persons with AN to construct an
identity that casts them as a competent person.
"AN: the diagnosis" can thus inherently affirm
professional knowledge and values. Postmodern
professional ethics can support professionals in
managing these issues by highlighting the importance
of taking responsibility for professional
knowledge, values, and power and embracing
Kendall, S & Halliday, LE 2014, 'Undertaking ethical qualitative research in public health: are current ethical processes sufficient?', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, vol. 38, no. 4, pp. 306-310.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Kendall, S & Hugman, R 2013, 'Social Work and the Ethics of Involuntary Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa: A Postmodern Approach', Ethics and Social Welfare, vol. 7, no. 4, pp. 310-325.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Sherwood, J & Kendall, S 2013, 'Reframing spaces by building relationships: Community collaborative participatory action research with Aboriginal mothers in prison', Contemporary Nurse, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 84-95.View/Download from: Publisher's site
Aboriginal women are vastly over-represented in the Australian prison system. Their recidivism rates are high. Aboriginal women in contact with the criminal justice system also have higher rates of mental health disorders and are likely to have been a victim of violence. The majority of these women are mothers. Their increasing incarceration therefore has serious implications for the health and social and emotional wellbeing of their Aboriginal children, families and communities. Illustrating and exploring this situation requires an Indigenous informed conceptual framework utilising a decolonising research methodology inclusive of enduring community and stakeholder dialogue and consultation. Respectful and ethical praxis are central to this approach. We will describe how this methodology has been applied within a current National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) research project in New South Wales, Australia. The NHMRC guidelines for research with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have supported our process and will be highlighted in illustrating our research experience
Kendall, S 2016, 'Postmodern ethics for practice' in Hugman, R & Carter, J (eds), Rethinking values and ethics in social work, Palgrave Macmillan, UK, pp. 195-209.