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Health Sciences profile

Professor Gillian Abel

PositionProfessor and Head of Department
DepartmentDepartment of Population Health (Christchurch)
QualificationsMPH DipTech DPH, PhD
Research summaryVulnerable populations

Research

Professor Gillian Abel's early background was in haematology before taking a career change to public health. She joined the Department of Public Health and General Practice at the University of Otago, Christchurch in 1997 and holds a PhD in public health from this University.

Gillian is expert in mixed methods research using community-based participatory approaches. Her research focuses on vulnerable populations such as sex workers, vulnerable youth and Pacific people. Sex work is a field in which she has extensive expertise. Her research in this field is firmly located in public health but she applies a sociological lens by analysing data in the context of structural opportunities and constraints faced by sex workers, drawing on concepts of stigma; theories of social exclusion; theories of risk; and feminist theories.

She led a large Health Research Council funded national research project looking at the impact of the Prostitution Reform Act (2003) on the health and safety of sex workers and this study has been influential in informing policy both in New Zealand and internationally. She is currently a collaborator on a large Canadian team project looking at vulnerabilities in the Canadian sex industry.

Publications

Weinhold, C., Abel, G., & Thompson, L. (2022). “They wouldn't get away with it at McDonalds”: Decriminalization, work, and disciplinary power in New Zealand brothels. Gender, Work & Organization. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/gwao.12893

Dixon, R., Abel, G., & Burrows, L. (2022). A case for connecting school-based health education in Aotearoa New Zealand to critical health literacy. Curriculum Studies in Health and Physical Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/25742981.2022.2082310

McKerchar, C., Gage, R., Smith, M., Lacey, C., Abel, G., Ni Mhurchu, C., & Signal, L. (2022). Children’s community nutrition environment, food and drink purchases and consumption on journeys between home and school: A wearable camera study. Nutrients, 14, 1995. doi: 10.3390/nu14101995

Abel, G. (2021). “You’re selling a brand”: Marketing commercial sex online. Sexualities. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/13634607211056189

Abel, G., & Ludeke, M. (2021). Business like any other? New Zealand’s brothel industry post-decriminalisation. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 24(9), 1243-1256. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2021.1942553

Armstrong, L., & Abel, G. (Eds.). (2020). Sex work and the New Zealand model: Decriminalisation and social change. Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press, 244p. doi: 10.2307/j.ctv1453kvn

Edited Book - Research

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., Healy, C., & with Taylor, A. (Eds.). (2010). Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. Bristol, UK: Policy Press, 271p.

Edited Book - Research

Abel, G., & Healy, C. (2021). Sex worker-led provision of services in New Zealand: Optimising health and safety in a decriminalised context. In S. M. Goldenberg, R. Morgan Thomas, A. Forbes & S. Baral (Eds.), Sex work, health, and human rights: Global inequities, challenges, and opportunities for action. (pp. 175-188). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-64171-9_10

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G. (2020). Contested space: Street-based sex workers and community engagement. In L. Armstrong & G. Abel (Eds.), Sex work and the New Zealand model: Decriminalisation and social change. (pp. 199-221). Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. doi: 10.2307/j.ctv1453kvn.15

Chapter in Book - Research

Armstrong, L., & Abel, G. (2020). Introduction. In L. Armstrong & G. Abel (Eds.), Sex work and the New Zealand model: Decriminalisation and social change. (pp. 1-16). Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. doi: 10.2307/j.ctv1453kvn.6

Chapter in Book - Research

Armstrong, L., Abel, G., & Roguski, M. (2020). Fear of trafficking or implicit prejudice? Migrant sex workers and the impacts of Section 19. In L. Armstrong & G. Abel (Eds.), Sex work and the New Zealand model: Decriminalisation and social change. (pp. 113-134). Bristol, UK: Bristol University Press. doi: 10.2307/j.ctv1453kvn.11

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G. (2018). Decriminalisation and social justice: A public health perspective on sex work. In S. A. FitzGerald & K. McGarry (Eds.), Realising justice for sex workers: An agenda for change. (pp. 123-140). London, UK: Rowman & Littlefield International.

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G. (2017). In search of a fair and free society: The regulation of sex work in New Zealand. In E. Ward & G. Wylie (Eds.), Feminism, prostitution and the state: The politics of neo-abolitionism. (pp. 140-154). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G., & Fitzgerald, L. (2010). Conclusion. In G. Abel, L. Fitzgerald, C. Healy & A. Taylor (Eds.), Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. (pp. 259-264). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G., & Fitzgerald, L. (2010). Decriminalisation and stigma. In G. Abel, L. Fitzgerald, C. Healy & A. Taylor (Eds.), Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. (pp. 239-258). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G., & Fitzgerald, L. (2010). Introduction. In G. Abel, L. Fitzgerald, C. Healy & A. Taylor (Eds.), Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. (pp. 1-24). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G., & Fitzgerald, L. (2010). Risk and risk management in sex work post-Prostitution Reform Act: A public health perspective. In G. Abel, L. Fitzgerald, C. Healy & A. Taylor (Eds.), Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. (pp. 217-238). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G., Fitzgerald, L., & Brunton, C. (2010). Christchurch School of Medicine study: Methodology and methods. In G. Abel, L. Fitzgerald, C. Healy & A. Taylor (Eds.), Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. (pp. 159-172). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Abel, G., Healy, C., Bennachie, C., & Reed, A. (2010). The Prostitution Reform Act. In G. Abel, L. Fitzgerald, C. Healy & A. Taylor (Eds.), Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. (pp. 75-84). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Fitzgerald, L., & Abel, G. (2010). The media and the Prostitution Reform Act. In G. Abel, L. Fitzgerald, C. Healy & A. Taylor (Eds.), Taking the crime out of sex work: New Zealand sex workers' fight for decriminalisation. (pp. 197-216). Bristol, UK: Policy Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Dixon, R., Abel, G., & Burrows, L. (2022). A case for connecting school-based health education in Aotearoa New Zealand to critical health literacy. Curriculum Studies in Health and Physical Education. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/25742981.2022.2082310

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., Gage, R., Smith, M., Lacey, C., Abel, G., Ni Mhurchu, C., & Signal, L. (2022). Children’s community nutrition environment, food and drink purchases and consumption on journeys between home and school: A wearable camera study. Nutrients, 14, 1995. doi: 10.3390/nu14101995

Journal - Research Article

Weinhold, C., Abel, G., & Thompson, L. (2022). “They wouldn't get away with it at McDonalds”: Decriminalization, work, and disciplinary power in New Zealand brothels. Gender, Work & Organization. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/gwao.12893

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. (2021). “You’re selling a brand”: Marketing commercial sex online. Sexualities. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/13634607211056189

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G., & Ludeke, M. (2021). Brothels as sites of third-party exploitation? Decriminalisation and sex workers’ employment rights. Social Sciences, 10, 3. doi: 10.3390/socsci10010003

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G., & Ludeke, M. (2021). Business like any other? New Zealand’s brothel industry post-decriminalisation. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 24(9), 1243-1256. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2021.1942553

Journal - Research Article

Aham-Chiabuotu, C. B., Abel, G., & Thompson, L. (2021). 'Men don't have patience': Sexuality, pleasure and danger in displacement settings in Northcentral Nigeria. Global Public Health, 16(5), 801-813. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2019.1690539

Journal - Research Article

Dixon, R., Abel, G., & Burrows, L. (2021). Putting assemblage to work to explore pedagogical practices in health education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Health Education, 121(2), 174-188. doi: 10.1108/HE-05-2020-0034

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., Lacey, C., Abel, G., & Signal, L. (2021). Ensuring the right to food for indigenous children: A case study of stakeholder perspectives on policy options to ensure the rights of tamariki Māori to healthy food. International Journal for Equity in Health, 20, 67. doi: 10.1186/s12939-021-01407-4

Journal - Research Article

Benoit, C., Maurice, R., Abel, G., Smith, A., Jansson, M., Healey, P., & Magnuson, D. (2020). 'I dodged the stigma bullet': Canadian sex workers' situated responses to occupational stigma. Culture, Health & Sexuality, 22(1), 81-95. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2019.1576226

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., King, P., Lacey, C., Abel, G., & Signal, L. (2020). Rights-based approaches to improving food availability for tamariki Māori: A narrative literature review and theory-based synthesis. MAI Journal, 9(3), 237-248. doi: 10.20507/MAIJournal.2020.9.3.6

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., Smith, M., Gage, R., Williman, J., Abel, G., Lacey, C., Ni Mhurchu, C., & Signal, L. (2020). Kids in a candy store: An objective analysis of children's interactions with food in convenience stores. Nutrients, 12(7), 2143. doi: 10.3390/nu12072143

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., Smith, M., Stanley, J., Barr, M., Chambers, T., Abel, G., Lacey, C., Gage, R., … Signal, L. (2020). Food store environment examination: FoodSee: A new method to study the food store environment using wearable cameras. Global Health Promotion, 27(3), 73-81. doi: 10.1177/1757975919859575

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G., & Thompson, L. (2018). "I don't want to look like an AIDS victim": A New Zealand case study of facial lipoatrophy. Health & Social Care in the Community, 26(1), 41-47. doi: 10.1111/hsc.12459

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G., & Wahab, S. (2017). “Build a friendship with them”: The discourse of “at-risk” as a barrier to relationship building between young people who trade sex and social workers. Child & Family Social Work, 22(4), 1391-1398. doi: 10.1111/cfs.12357

Journal - Research Article

Brinsdon, A., Abel, G., & Desrosiers, J. (2017). "I'm taking control": How people living with HIV/AIDS manage stigma in health interactions. AIDS Care, 29(2), 185-188. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2016.1204420

Journal - Research Article

Desrosiers, J., Wilkinson, T., Abel, G., & Pitama, S. (2016). Curricular initiatives that enhance student knowledge and perceptions of sexual and gender minority groups: A critical interpretive synthesis. Canadian Medical Education Journal / Revue canadienne de l'éducation médicale, 7(2), e121-e138.

Journal - Research Article

Thompson, L., & Abel, G. (2016). The work of negotiating HIV as a chronic condition: A qualitative analysis. AIDS Care, 28(12), 1571-1576. doi: 10.1080/09540121.2016.1191615

Journal - Research Article

Wahab, S., & Abel, G. (2016). The Prostitution Reform Act (2003) and social work in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Affilia, 31(4), 418-433. doi: 10.1177/0886109916647764

Journal - Research Article

Meriluoto, L., Webb, R., Masselot, A., Morrish, S., & Abel, G. (2015). Safety in the New Zealand sex industry. New Zealand Economic Papers, 49(3), 296-317. doi: 10.1080/00779954.2015.1041548

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. (2014). Sex workers’ utilisation of health services in a decriminalised environment. New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1390). Retrieved from http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M. (2014). A decade of decriminalization: Sex work 'down under' but not underground. Criminology & Criminal Justice, 14(5), 580-592. doi: 10.1177/1748895814523024

Journal - Research Article

Seers, K., Cook, L., Abel, G., Schluter, P. J., & Bridgford, P. (2013). Is it time to talk? Interpreter services use in general practice within Canterbury. Journal of Primary Health Care, 5(2), 129-137.

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M., & Fitzgerald, L. J. (2012). ‘The street's got its advantages’: Movement between sectors of the sex industry in a decriminalised environment. Health, Risk & Society, 14(1), 7-23. doi: 10.1080/13698575.2011.640664

Journal - Research Article

Ludeke, M., Puni, R., Cook, L., Pasene, M., Abel, G., & Sopoaga, F. (2012). Access to general practice for Pacific peoples: A place for cultural competency. Journal of Primary Health Care, 4(2), 123-130.

Journal - Research Article

Thompson, L., Reeder, T., & Abel, G. (2012). 'I can't get my husband to go and have a colonoscopy': Gender and screening for colorectal cancer. Health, 16(3), 235-249. doi: 10.1177/1363459311403948

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M. (2011). Different stage, different performance: The protective strategy of role play on emotional health in sex work. Social Science & Medicine, 72(7), 1177-1184. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.01.021

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M., & Thompson, L. (2011). What do specialists and GPs think about the introduction of colorectal cancer screening? A qualitative study. New Zealand Medical Journal, 124(1338). Retrieved from http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/124-1338/4756/content.pdf

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M., & Thompson, L. E. (2011). General practitioners, specialists and surveillance guidelines: Interpreting the socio-clinical context of decision-making. Health, Risk & Society, 13(6), 547-559. doi: 10.1080/13698575.2011.615826

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M., Fitzgerald, L. J., & Brunton, C. (2009). The impact of decriminalisation on the number of sex workers in New Zealand. Journal of Social Policy, 38(3), 515-531. doi: 10.1017/s0047279409003080

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M., & Fitzgerald, L. J. (2008). On a fast-track into adulthood: An exploration of transitions into adulthood for street-based sex workers in New Zealand. Journal of Youth Studies, 11(4), 361-376. doi: 10.1080/13676260802104808

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G., & Fitzgerald, L. (2006). 'When you come to it you feel like a dork asking a guy to put a condom on': Is sex education addressing young people's understandings of risk? Sex Education, 6(2), 105-119.

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G., & Brunton, C. (2005). Young people's use of condoms and their perceived vulnerability to sexually transmitted infections. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 29(3), 254-260.

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M., & Plumridge, E. W. (2004). Network 'norms' or 'styles' of 'drunken comportment'? Health Education Research, 19(5), 492-500.

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. M., Plumridge, E. W., & Graham, P. J. (2002). Peers, networks or relationships: Strategies for understanding social dynamics as determinants of smoking behaviour. Drugs, 9(4), 325-338.

Journal - Research Article

Corwin, P., Abel, G., Wells, J. E., Coughlan, E., Bagshaw, S., Sutherland, M., & Plumridge, L. (2002). Chlamydia trachomatis prevalence and sexual behaviour in Christchurch high school students. New Zealand Medical Journal, 115(1158). Retrieved from http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal/115-1158/107/content.pdf

Journal - Research Article

Plumridge, E. W., Fitzgerald, L. J., & Abel, G. M. (2002). Performing coolness: Smoking refusal and adolescent identities. Health Education Research, 17(2), 167-179.

Journal - Research Article

Plumridge, E. W., & Abel, G. M. (2001). A 'segmented' sex industry in New Zealand: Sexual and personal safety of female sex workers. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 25(1), 78-83.

Journal - Research Article

Plumridge, E. W., & Abel, G. M. (2000). Services and information utilised by female sex workers for sexual and physical safety. New Zealand Medical Journal, 113, 370-372.

Journal - Research Article

Abel, G. (2019). The problem with sex work policies. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48, 1925-1929. doi: 10.1007/s10508-018-1366-5

Journal - Research Other

Abel, G. (2018). Decriminalisation of sex work protects human rights. BMJ, 362, k3630. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k3630

Journal - Research Other

Abel, G. (2018). Sex work is here to stay and decriminalisation improves safety and social justice. BMJ, 361, k2687. doi: 10.1136/bmj.k2687

Journal - Research Other

Swinburn, B., Vandevijvere, S., on behalf of submitting health professors, including Hornblow, A., Taylor, B., Drummond, B., Murdoch, D., Mangin, D., Sarfati, D., Sellman, D., Sopoaga, F., Thomson, G., Abel, G., Hoek, J., Connor, J., Krebs, J., Mann, J., McCall, J., Broughton, J., Toop, L., Signal, L., Beckert, L., Farella, M., Baker, M., Keall, M., Skeaff, M., Thomson, M., Wilson, N., Chandler, N., Priest, P., Brunton, P., Crampton, P., Gendall, P., Howden-Chapman, P., Taylor, R., Edwards, R., Gauld, R., McGee, R., Mulder, R., Derrett, S., Hales, S., Pullon, S., & Blakely, T. (2017). Proposed new industry code on unhealthy food marketing to children and young people: Will it make a difference? New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1450), 94-101. Retrieved from http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Other

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