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Dr Sarah Appleton is a post-doctoral research fellow (PhD 2010, University of Adelaide) in the Freemason’s Centre for Men’s Health at The University of Adelaide. She has extensive experience in chronic disease epidemiology. Prior to completing her PhD Sarah was a technical officer at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital (TQEH).


Her research involves two biomedical cohort studies: The North West Adelaide Health Study (NWAHS, of which she is a Chief Investigator) and the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study (FAMAS).


Sarah has 80 peer-reviewed publications including some in top ranking journals (Sleep, Diabetes Care, Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology).


She has made contributions to:



  • the understanding of clinical phenotypes of obesity and asthma and their relationship to each other, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease outcomes.

  • identifying the burden of undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in men and its relationship with outcomes including diabetes, depression, and quality of life.

  • the understanding of the influence of health literacy on health outcomes including asthma and OSA.


Sarah’s research has aimed to identify people at risk of poor health outcomes in order to inform evidenced based policy for the improved delivery of health services and prevention of chronic disease.


Currently Sarah’s research focus is sleep health and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). She is available to supervise honours and postgraduate research students.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is very common, with up to half of adults having some form of the condition. OSA is undiagnosed in approximately 75% of people and has a large negative effect on a number of areas of health – ie heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, mental health, accidents and quality of life.
  • Her work has identified relationships of OSA with cardiometabolic problems (including diabetes, hypertension) and quality of life in community dwelling men, participating in the in the Male Androgen, Inflammation, Lifestyle, Environment and Stress (MAILES) study. The MAILES study is comprised of men aged at least 35 years from NWAHS and FAMAS who underwent full-in-home sleep studies and this data source is unique in Australia.
  • Given the size of the population at risk of OSA related health problems, current research projects aim to better identify who actually is at risk and require treatment. This will involve the investigation of whether EEG and ECG markers of OSA on sleep studies (power spectral analysis, heart rate variability) improves risk stratification and our partners include collaborators at The Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health and the Woolcock Institute at Sydney University.

Her major goal will be the acquisition of research funds to investigate women participants of the NWAHS as to date women are far less likely to be diagnosed with OSA than men and are vastly under-represented in OSA research studies despite recent findings suggesting a quarter of women may be affected by OSA.

Sarah is available to speak to the media on issues relating to sleep and respiratory epidemiology.

Sarah represents the Freemasons Foundation Centre for Men’s Health (FFCMH) and participates in community information sessions regarding men’s health providing information and feeding back research findings about obstructive sleep apnea.