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Dr Karen Arblaster

Dr Karen Arblaster, Director of Allied Health, Research and Strategic Partnerships

Clinical Researcher award for Allied Health Director

02 Aug 2021


The reputation of Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District (NBMLHD) as a leader in healthcare research is again in the spotlight after Dr Karen Arblaster was awarded Occupational Therapy Australia’s Clinical Researcher Award.

Dr Arblaster, who is the District’s Director of Allied Health, Research and Strategic Partnerships, received the prestigious award in part for her doctoral research which focused on integrating mental health lived experience perspectives into occupational therapy practice.

Her research has produced lived experience informed capability frameworks and an outcome measure to help occupational therapists better meet the needs of people experiencing mental distress and ill health.

Dr Arblaster’s work in this area has also contributed to significant service transformation within the NBMLHD Mental Health Service, which is now recognised as setting the benchmark in working with consumers with lived experience.  

Dr Arblaster’s work in the field also involves supervising Honours and Masters student research projects. Her own studies have created opportunities for university students to conduct their research at NBMLHD.

“Building these relationships and collaborating with the universities has been beneficial for our District in attracting high-performing students,” says Dr Arblaster, who has mentored several university students who now work for NBMLHD.

“Our research also gives consumers confidence that we’re delivering cutting edge services and that you can go to our hospitals and receive world class treatment.”

In receiving the Occupational Therapy Australia award, Dr Arblaster says it is nice to have her body of work recognised.

Her continued research efforts are driven by wanting to achieve better outcomes for people accessing healthcare.

“What I’m looking to do is understand from a lived experience, what do we need to do better for people in vulnerable groups in our society to give them the same health outcomes as the rest of the population?” Dr Arblaster says.

Interested in joining the team at Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District? Follow us on LinkedIn or discover employment opportunities here