Red X iconGreen tick iconYellow tick icon
Professor of Primary Health Care Department Primary Health Care and General Practice

Background and Interests

Tony Dowell is Professor of Primary Health Care at the University of Otago, Wellington, and a practicing General Practitioner at the Island Bay Medical Centre. He has been a member of the Department since 1997, when he arrived from the UK to take up the inaugural Chair of General Practice and Head of Department. He qualified in Medicine at Leeds University in the UK and after junior medical training worked in Malawi, central Africa. Returning to the UK he completed General Practice training and entered academic practice in Leeds. Prior to moving to New Zealand he was inaugural Director of the Centre for Research in Primary Care at Leeds. His current academic interests include research in mental health care, health services research and communication in health care consultation settings.

Teaching Activities

Undergraduate Medical Education

Teaching in psychological medicine and community practice in 4th – 6th year class settings.

He was one of the founders of a cultural immersion teaching programme which ran for over ten years on the East Coast of the North Island.

Postgraduate Education

Regular contributions to postgraduate programmes in Primary Care, Public Health and Psychological medicine.

He is currently supervising PhD students in the areas of back pain, acute respiratory infection, the acculturation of international medical graduates, sleep disturbance in dementia and professional attitudes to obesity in men.

Research Activities

Tony's research activities have spanned a wide range of topics relevant to primary care, using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Current research themes include:

Mental Health
- Primary mental health service delivery. Recent projects have included an evaluation of mental health initiatives and the development and piloting of a toolkit for primary mental health care
- The Anti-depressant Cessation Trial (ACT); a randomized controlled trial of SSRI withdrawal for those with stable depression
- Development and piloting of a problem solving/ cognitive behavioural ultra-brief intervention (UBI) in routine primary care consultations
- Classification of mental disorder. Tony is a member of a WHO panel exploring classification issues in mental health for the ICD_11 classification of disease

Communication in Health Care
Tony is a founding member of the Applied Research on Communication in Health (ARCH) research group. This group consisting of clinicians, social scientists and sociolinguists is undertaking current projects in the content and quality of consultations in diabetes care, the management of overweight patients and interpreted consultations in general practice and primary care settings.

Quality in Health Care
Tony has been involved for a number of years in the development of indicators of performance in primary care. He is currently a member of panels at the Quality and Safety Commission developing an Atlas of Variation, and indicators for Ambulatory Sensitive Hospitalisation.


Bibby, S., Marsh, S., Dowell, A., Sexton, A., Hilder, J., Turner, N., … Stubbe, M. (2024). Point-Of-Care Testing for respiratory illnesses improves diagnosis, management, and patient behaviours. Proceedings of the Communicable Diseases & Immunisation Conference: Protecting Communities: Empowering Health through Disease Control and Immunisation. 397. Retrieved from Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Dowell, A., Stubbe, M., Dunlop, A., Fedchuk, D., Gardiner, T., Garrett, S., Gordon, S., Hilder, J., Mathieson, F., & Tester, R. (2024). Evaluating success and challenges of a primary care youth mental health programme using complexity, implementation science, and appreciative inquiry. Cureus, 16(4), e58870. doi: 10.7759/cureus.58870 Journal - Research Article

Sheridan, N., McKree Jansen, R., Harwood, M., Love, T., Kenealy, T., and the Primary Care Models Study Group, including Atmore, C., Crampton, P., Dowell, A., Gauld, R., McBain, L., Stokes, T., & Stubbe, M. (2024). Hauora Māori – Māori health: A right to equal outcomes in primary care. International Journal for Equity in Health, 23, 42. doi: 10.1186/s12939-023-02071-6 Journal - Research Article

Huang, Q. S., Turner, N., Wood, T., Anglemyer, A., McIntyre, P., Aminisani, N., Dowell, T., … Geoghegan, J., … Jelley, L., … Baker, M. G., Kvalsvig, A., … Webby, R. J. (2024). Impact of the COVID-19 related border restrictions on influenza and other common respiratory viral infections in New Zealand. Influenza & Other Respiratory Viruses, 18, e13247. doi: 10.1111/irv.13247 Journal - Research Article

Jefferies, R., Wilcox, P., Paringatai, K., Stubbe, M., Grainger, R., Dowell, A., & Filoche, S. K. (2024). 'I think we just do it once and leave it ...': The collection and utility of family health history in general practice in Aotearoa New Zealand: A qualitative study. Journal of Primary Health Care, 16(1), 33-40. doi: 10.1071/HC23055 Journal - Research Article

Back to top