DR Ruth DeSouza

DR Ruth DeSouza


  • Cultural safety ((health inequities, workforce development))
  • Health informatics ((consumer health informatics, digital health))
  • Maternity ((mental health, inequities, refugee and migrant women))



  • My current role is as academic co-convenor of the The Data, Systems and Society Research Network (DSSRN), a collaborative research network across the University of Melbourne. DSSRN’s focus is building a community of research scholars, and data infrastructure, to support internal collaborations and external partnerships, around data, systems, and society. I also have an Honorary Senior Research Fellow role at The Health and Biomedical Informatics Centre (HaBIC) and my own consulting practice. My interest in data-intensive transformations in health and wellness within the context of informationalization comes from my own research examining how being an active member of one’s ‘own health care team’ through the acquisition of knowledge and skills is a key feature of contemporary health care. In my own research I explored how in maternity, mothers to be, are encouraged to take responsibility (or responsibilized) for themselves and their foetus (and later infants) into being “expert patients”. This moral imperative “to know” reflects being a good mother and citizen. My more recent research at the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) based at North Richmond Community Health (NRCH), Melbourne explored the impact of the proliferation of mobile and wearable health technologies, and how these developments were reconfiguring power relations, relationships and practices in health care through the lens of health literacy, consumer participation and cultural competence/safety. Providing culturally competent services and communicating in culturally appropriate ways are necessary components of health literacy as they provide the conditions for allowing consumers and communities to engage in health and health care (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care ACSQHC, 2014, p.27). I am interested in the advent of the agentic consumer and how this subject position is intensified through digital health, and the health literacy demands of collecting and inter   


Selected publications


Education and training

  • PhD, Auckland University of Technology 2012
  • MA (Nsg), Massey University 2002
  • Grad Dip, Auckland University of Technology 1996
  • RCN, Auckland University of Technology 1987


Available for supervision

  • Y

Supervision Statement

  • I am currently supervising (Honorary) a PhD examining the Quality management of patient generated health data from wearables for clinical use. My current research interests include: data discrimination; the impacts of digital health on health literacy, consumer participation and cultural safety; Developing digital health literacies in the health workforce; cultural issues in emerging health technologies. I have a passionate interest in culture and health. My main theoretical interests are feminist theory, postcolonial theory and critical qualitative research methodologies. My work includes empirical studies and theoretical investigations into key sites where health inequities are found, including refugee, migrant and indigenous communities; maternity and mental health. I am interested in expanding the anti-racist potential of cultural safety in health and social care in order to improve health care outcomes for marginalised groups through theory, practice and policy and to examine the role nurses and other health professionals can play in social justice. To this end, I have a specific interest in critical and self-reflexive approaches in nursing education. More recently, I have begun undertaking secondary research in the form of systematic and integrative reviews (summarising existing research) as a mechanism for supporting decision making in health and social care.