Fiona Cocker

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Fiona Cocker

Coordinator, Student Development & Support MBBS

Room 358a-01, Level 3 , MS2, Medical Science Precinct

+61 3 6226 6930 (phone)

+61 3 6226 7704 (fax)

Dr Fiona Cocker is a research fellow with over a decade of experience in public health research. She completed a cross-disciplinary Ph.D. in psychiatric epidemiology, health economics, and organisational psychology and has made significant contributions to research projects focused variously on management of type-2 diabetes, co-morbidity of common mental disorders and ischemic heart disease, evaluation of a workplace health and wellbeing program in a diverse, public sector workforce, and barriers to return-to-work among long-term injured workers. Her main research focus is workplace mental health promotion, with an interest in the medical and first responder workforces.


Fiona completed her PhD at the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, where she investigated the health and productivity consequences of depression-related work attendance behaviour (sickness absenteeism and working when ill) to inform the development workplace mental health promotion strategies. During her PhD, Fiona also managed the promotion and recruitment of a landmark Australian study into the mental health of small business owners, the Business in Mind project. This work was funded by an ARC Linkage Grant in partnership with beyondblue, the Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Workcover Tasmania, and the small-medium enterprise (SME) sector.

Since completing her PhD, Fiona has:

  • Played a role in the planning and implementation of a process evaluation of Healthy@Work (the Tasmanian State Government’s employee health and wellbeing program).
  • Managed a University of Melbourne-based, NHMRC-funded project conducted in partnership with Diabetes Australia, and its state organisations in Queensland, Victoria, and WA, Roche Diagnostics Australia, and Bupa Australia.
  • Led the analysis on the Victorian Injured Workers' Outcomes Study (VIWOS), based at Monash University in partnership with WorkSafe Victoria.

Fiona continues to investigate the role employment plays in mental and physical health and wellbeing, and how employers and workplaces can improve the health of the working population, and has a particular interest in medical and first responder workforces.

Career summary


  • PhD, University of Tasmania, AUS, 2013. Thesis: Depression-related presenteeism: Identifying the correlates, estimating the consequences, and valuing associated lost productive time.
  • BA (Upper 2nd Class Hons – Psychology), University of Tasmania, AUS, 2006.
  • BA, University of Tasmania, AUS, 2005.


Professional practice

  • Public Health Assn. Australia (PHAA); Mental Health Special Interest Group (MH SIG) (2013-)
  • Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR)
  • International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology (IFPE) – Associate Member, Member, Local Organising Committee IFPE Congress 2017.


Teaching expertise

Lecturer - CAM 102, CAM 519, paramedic associate degree

View more on Dr Fiona Cocker in WARP


  • workplace mental health
  • work attendance behaviour (absenteeism and presenteeism)
  • workplace health promotion
  • health economic evaluation

Research Themes

Fiona’s research aligns to the University's research theme of Better Health. Her primary research interests focus on the role employment plays in mental and physical health and wellbeing, and how employers and workplaces can improve the health of the working population.

Fiona’s doctoral research investigated the work and non-work correlates of depression-related sickness absence and presenteeism (working when ill), and identified and quantified the health and productivity consequences of both behaviours for employed Australians experiencing depression in small-medium enterprises and the working population using data from the ABS-conducted National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. This research furthered understanding of what prompts continued work attendance (presenteeism) amongst employed individuals reporting depression in the Australian population generally and within the small-to-medium enterprise (SME) sector. Consequently, these findings can be used to inform the development of evidence-based workplace health promotion programs to assist clinicians, employers and managers, in various workplace settings, to better manage common mental disorders and related work attendance behaviours.

Fiona’s postdoctoral research broadened her research focus to workplace health promotion more generally. During this time she played a significant role in the planning and implementation of a process evaluation of Healthy@Work (the Tasmanian State Government’s employee health and wellbeing program). She managed the data collection process by developing and conducting a series of qualitative interviews with key informants with the Tasmanian State Service, analysing the subsequent data, and co-authoring a report of to help inform an understanding the feasibility, effectiveness and sustainability of the program.

She also led the analysis on the Victorian Injured Workers' Outcomes Study (VIWOS), based at Monash University in partnership with WorkSafe Victoria. This involved analysing an administrative data set, containing information about workplace injury in Victoria, to identify factors that contribute to poorer outcomes and opportunities to improve outcomes for injured workers.

She is also currently involved in several research projects investigating mental health and well-being in the workplace and has a particular interest in the medical and first responder workforces.


  • Delegate, Australian Academy of Science, Research Data Science Winter School, 12-15 June, Brisbane, Australia.
  • Australasian Society of Medical Research, Medical Research Week Student Award finalist, 2012.
  • 2011 Mental Health Council of Australia (MHCA) Grant in Aid to attend the Australasian Society for Psychiatric Research conference, 2011.
  • Travel Bursary Award 2011, 13th International Congress of IFPE (International Federation of Psychiatric Epidemiology), Kaohsiung, Taiwan.
  • Travel Bursary Award 2010, International Society of Affective Disorders (ISAD) 5th Biennial Conference, Vancouver, Canada.

Current projects

  1. Promoting mental health in high-risk occupations: A feasibility study to promote psychological capital in medical students and junior doctors.
  2. Examining the experiences and support needs of first responders’ spouses and families: a qualitative study.
  3. International Study of Work and Family (ISWAF)
  4. Developing patient centred screening tools for hepatocellular carcinoma screening.
  5. Health by Stealth: Developing strategies to increase active and public transport.

Fields of Research

  • Health promotion (420603)
  • Mental health services (420313)
  • Health services and systems (420399)
  • Health economics (380108)
  • Occupational and workplace health and safety (350505)
  • Epidemiology (420299)
  • Organisational behaviour (350710)
  • Primary health care (420319)
  • Special education and disability (390411)
  • Paediatrics (321399)
  • Higher education (390303)
  • Epidemiological methods (420204)
  • Health and community services (420305)
  • Health informatics and information systems (420308)
  • Educational psychology (520102)
  • Business systems in context (350399)

Research Objectives

  • Occupational health (200507)
  • Mental health (200409)
  • Evaluation of health and support services (200299)
  • Behaviour and health (200401)
  • Health education and promotion (200203)
  • Clinical health (200199)
  • Health status (incl. wellbeing) (200407)
  • Learner and learning (160199)
  • Other health (209999)
  • Expanding knowledge in commerce, management, tourism and services (280106)
  • Inclusive education (160203)
  • Public health (excl. specific population health) (200499)
  • Disease distribution and transmission (incl. surveillance and response) (200404)
  • Disability and functional capacity (200403)
  • Pacific Peoples community services (210999)
  • Mental health services (200305)
  • Neonatal and child health (200506)
  • Expanding knowledge in education (280109)


Total publications


Journal Article

(22 outputs)
2021Jones I, Cocker F, Jose MD, Charleston MA, Neil A, 'Methods of analyzing patterns of multimorbidity using network analysis: a scoping review protocol', JBI Evidence Synthesis ISSN 2689-8381 (2021) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.11124/JBIES-20-00498 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Jones I; Jose MD; Charleston MA; Neil A


2020Cleland V, Cocker F, Canary J, Teychenne M, Crawford D, et al., 'Social-ecological predictors of physical activity patterns: a longitudinal study of women from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas', Preventive Medicine, 132 pp. 1-7. ISSN 0091-7435 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2020.105995 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Cleland V


2020Martin A, Kilpatrick M, Scott J, Cocker F, Dawkins S, et al., 'Protecting the mental health of small-to-medium enterprise owners: a randomized control trial evaluating a self-administered versus telephone supported intervention', Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 62, (7) pp. 503-510. ISSN 1076-2752 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001882 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 1Web of Science - 2

Co-authors: Martin A; Kilpatrick M; Scott J; Dawkins S


2020Stanesby O, Long M, Ball K, Blizzard L, Cocker F, et al., 'Socio-demographic, behavioural and health-related characteristics associated with active commuting in a regional Australian state: evidence from the 2016 Tasmanian Population Health Survey', Health Promotion Journal of Australia, (September) pp. 1-12. ISSN 2201-1617 (2020) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1002/hpja.428 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Stanesby O; Blizzard L; Johnston F; Jose K; Palmer AJ; Sharman M; Venn A; Cleland V


2019Cocker F, Yee KC, Palmer AJ, de Graaff B, 'Increasing incidence and mortality related to liver cancer in Australia: time to turn the tide', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 43, (3) pp. 267-273. ISSN 1753-6405 (2019) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1111/1753-6405.12889 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 7Web of Science - 8

Co-authors: Yee KC; Palmer AJ; de Graaff B


2018Cocker F, Sim MR, Kelsall H, Smith P, 'The association between time taken to report, lodge and start wage replacement and return-to-work outcomes', Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine pp. 1-28. ISSN 1536-5948 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001294 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 8


2018Treeby MS, Rice SM, Cocker F, Peacock A, Bruno R, 'Guilt-proneness is associated with the use of protective behavioral strategies during episodes of alcohol use', Addictive Behaviors, 79 pp. 120-123. ISSN 0306-4603 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2017.12.027 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 5Web of Science - 6

Co-authors: Treeby MS; Peacock A; Bruno R


2018Wang L, Cocker F, Kilpatrick M, Otahal P, Si L, et al., 'The associations of multimorbidity with health-related productivity loss in a large and diverse public sector setting: A cross-sectional survey', Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 60, (6) pp. 528-535. ISSN 1076-2752 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001243 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Wang L; Kilpatrick M; Otahal P; Si L; Palmer AJ; Sanderson K


2018Wang L, Si L, Cocker F, Palmer AJ, Sanderson K, 'A systematic review of cost-of-illness studies of multimorbidity', Applied Health Economics and Health Policy, 16, (1) pp. 15-29. ISSN 1175-5652 (2018) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1007/s40258-017-0346-6 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 49Web of Science - 8

Co-authors: Wang L; Si L; Palmer AJ; Sanderson K


2017Cocker F, Sanderson K, LaMontagne AD, 'Estimating the economic benefits of eliminating job strain as a risk factor for depression', Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 59, (1) pp. 12-17. ISSN 1076-2752 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000908 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 10Web of Science - 9

Co-authors: Sanderson K


2017Wang L, Palmer AJ, Otahal P, Cocker F, Sanderson K, 'Multimorbidity and Health Care Service Utilization in the Australian Workforce', Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 59, (8) pp. 795-802. ISSN 1076-2752 (2017) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001089 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2

Co-authors: Wang L; Palmer AJ; Otahal P; Sanderson K


2016Cocker F, Joss N, 'Compassion Fatigue among Healthcare, Emergency and Community Service Workers: A Systematic Review', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13, (6) pp. 1-18. ISSN 1661-7827 (2016) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph13060618 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 111Web of Science - 93


2015O'Neil A, Jacka FN, Quirk SE, Cocker F, Taylor CB, et al., 'A shared framework for the common mental disorders and Non-Communicable Disease: key considerations for disease prevention and control', BMC Psychiatry, 15 pp. 1-6. ISSN 1471-244X (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1186/s12888-015-0394-0 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 40Web of Science - 42


2015Oldenburg B, Taylor CB, O'Neil A, Cocker F, Cameron LD, 'Using new technologies to improve the prevention and management of chronic conditions in populations', Annual Review of Public Health, 36 pp. 483-505. ISSN 0163-7525 (2015) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1146/annurev-publhealth-031914-122848 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 50Web of Science - 42


2014Cocker F, Nicholson JM, Graves N, Oldenburg B, Palmer AJ, et al., 'Depression in working adults: comparing the costs and health outcomes of working when ill', PLoS ONE, 9, (9) Article e105430. ISSN 1932-6203 (2014) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105430 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 15Web of Science - 13

Co-authors: Palmer AJ; Martin A; Scott J; Venn A; Sanderson K


2013Cocker F, Martin A, Scott J, Venn A, Sanderson K, 'Psychological distress and related work attendance among small-to-medium enterprise owner/managers: literature review and research agenda', International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 14, (4) pp. 219-236. ISSN 1746-5729 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/14623730.2013.771036 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Web of Science - 49

Co-authors: Martin A; Scott J; Venn A; Sanderson K


2013Cocker F, Martin A, Scott J, Venn A, Sanderson K, 'Psychological distress, related work attendance, and productivity loss in small-to-medium enterprise owner/managers', International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 10, (10) pp. 5062-5082. ISSN 1661-7827 (2013) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.3390/ijerph10105062 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 59Web of Science - 49

Co-authors: Martin A; Scott J; Venn A; Sanderson K


2013Sanderson K, Cocker F, 'Presenteeism: Implications and health risks', Australian Family Physician, 42, (4) pp. 172-175. ISSN 0300-8495 (2013) [Contribution to Refereed Journal]

PMID: 23550237 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 26Web of Science - 23

Co-authors: Sanderson K


2012Cocker F, Martin A, Sanderson K, 'Managerial understanding of presenteeism and its economic impact', International Journal of Workplace Health Management, 5, (2) pp. 76-87. ISSN 1753-8351 (2012) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1108/17538351211239135 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 3

Co-authors: Martin A; Sanderson K


2011Cocker F, Martin A, Scott J, Venn A, Otahal P, et al., 'Factors associated with presenteeism among employed Australian adults reporting lifetime major depression with 12-month symptoms ', Journal of Affective Disorders, 135, (1-3) pp. 231-240. ISSN 0165-0327 (2011) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2011.07.028 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 31Web of Science - 28

Co-authors: Martin A; Scott J; Venn A; Otahal P; Sanderson K


2009Martin A, Sanderson K, Cocker FM, 'Meta-analysis of the effects of health promotion intervention in the workplace on depression and anxiety symptoms', Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health, 35, (1) pp. 7-18. ISSN 0355-3140 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.5271/sjweh.1295 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 100Web of Science - 95

Co-authors: Martin A; Sanderson K


2009Walker S, Brownlee J, Lennox S, Exley B, Howells K, et al., 'Understanding first year university students: personal epistemology and learning', Teaching Education, 20, (3) pp. 243-256. ISSN 1047-6210 (2009) [Refereed Article]

DOI: 10.1080/10476210802559350 [eCite] [Details]

Citations: Scopus - 13

Co-authors: Howells K


Chapter in Book

(2 outputs)
2013Cocker F, Martin A, Sanderson K, 'Using cognitive interviewing techniques in workplace settings', Advances in Organisational Research Methods and Analysis, Chamber and Row Inc, R Lacey (ed), New York, pp. 40-65. ISBN 9780989678704 (2013) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Martin A; Sanderson K

2008Green VA, Sigafoos J, Didden R, O'Reilly MF, Lancioni GE, et al., 'Play-based assessment of tolerance for frustration and problem-solving skills in children with developmental delays', New Research on Early Childhood Education, Nova Science Publishers, A.T. Waddell & R.M. McBride (ed), New York, pp. 169-186. ISBN 978-1-60456-368-9 (2008) [Research Book Chapter]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Green VA; Sigafoos J; Ollington N; Payne DJF

Conference Publication

(2 outputs)
2018Dawkins S, Martin A, Cocker F, 'Increasing the positives, reducing the negatives: Organizational factors that promote positive spill-over and reduce work-family conflict', Asia Pacific Academy for Psychosocial Factors at Work: Macro to Micro Perspectives on Healthy Vital Work in the Asia Pacific, 29-30 November 2018, Massey University (2018) [Conference Extract]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Dawkins S; Martin A


2011LaMontagne A, Sanderson K, Cocker F, 'Estimating the economic benefits of eliminating job strain as a risk factor for depression', Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 68 (1) , pp. A3. (2011) [Conference Extract]

DOI: 10.1136/oemed-2011-100382.9 [eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Sanderson K


Other Public Output

(2 outputs)
2014Doherty T, Cocker FM, Sanderson Kristy, Jose KA, 'Healthy Work: Process Evaluation', Menzies Research Institute and Tasmnain Govenement, Tasmania (2014) [Government or Industry Research]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Doherty T; Sanderson Kristy; Jose KA

2010LaMontagne AD, Sanderson K, Cocker F, 'Estimating the economic benefits of eliminating job strain as a risk factor for depression', Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), Carlton, Australia, pp. 1-37. (2010) [Government or Industry Research]

[eCite] [Details]

Co-authors: Sanderson K


Grants & Funding

  • TasNetworks Health and Wellbeing Grant
  • Creativity, Culture and Society Research Development Program Grant

Funding Summary

Number of grants


Total funding



Promoting mental health in high-risk occupations: A feasibility study to promote optimism, hope, resilience and self-efficacy in junior doctors. (2019)$51,547
In collaboration with Menzies Institute for Medical Research, TasNetworks will jointly fund a feasibility study to promote psychological capital in medical students and junior doctors in Hobart. The intervention will be implemented through facilitated, group-based workshops. Online surveys will assess medical students and JMOs in all three group at baseline, at intervention completion, and at 6-month follow up. If the content and design of the intervention are proven successful, findings of this trial will inform the development of a state-wide roll out to medical students and junior doctors located in Tasmanias North and North West, and its provision to other employee groups populations including TasNetworks staff.
Tasmanian Networks Pty Ltd ($51,547)
Contract Research
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Cocker FM; Beswick A; Turner RC
Mentally Healthy Workplaces: A Brief Consultation (2019)$21,172
o assist the APS Mental Health Taskforce in determining the extent to which their strategy constitutes evidence-based practice for mentally healthy workplaces. In relation to recent engagement across the APS by the Taskforce, we will provide expert opinion, feedback and further guidance.
Department of Industry, Innovation and Science ($21,172)
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
Martin A; Neil A; Cocker FM
Reducing the Burden of Liver Cancer for Tasmanians (2018)$350,000
Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common form of primary liver cancer and is the third leading cause of cancer deaths internationally. It occurs most commonly amongst patients with cirrhosis of the liver, which is often caused by chronic infections with the hepatitis B and/or hepatitis C viruses. The clinical outcomes for patients diagnosed with HCC are highly dependent of the stage at which it is detected. Late detection is associated with significant morbidity and mortality. If detected early, HCC is potentially curable.Screening programs have been suggested to increase the rate of early diagnosis for at-risk groups. In Australia, current guidelines recommend HCC screening for all patients with cirrhosis, regardless of liver disease severity or aetiology. Screening consists of 6-monthly liver ultrasound and alpha-fetoprotein tests. Uptake of screening for HCC is very low in Australia, evidenced by the 5-year survival rate of just 17%. The aims of this project are to a) evaluate current uptake and adherence of HCC screening across Tasmania, b) develop strategies aimed at supporting at-risk patients to participate in regular HCC screening, c) evaluate the cost-effectiveness of screening interventions, and d) assess the effectiveness of new treatments for hepatitis C in reducing the rate of HCC in Tasmania.
Sefton Bottomley Liver Cancer Bequest ($350,000)
Donation - Individual
Administered By
University of Tasmania
Research Team
de Graaff B; Palmer AJ; Yee KC; Cocker FM

Research Supervision






MastersThe Demographic and Clinical Characteristics of Primary Liver Cancer Patients in Tasmania2018
PhDDefining Multimorbidity within the Australian Population and it's Impact on Mental Health Outcomes2019


PhDThe Health and Economic Burden of Multimorbidity in Australia
Candidate: Lili Wang
MastersJob Stress in the Childhood Determinants of Adult Health Study: An Examination of Childhood Predictors and Associations with Adult Health Risk Behaviours
Candidate: Shuo Wang