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Dr Barton's research training was undertaken at research intensive universities including Monash University and the University of Adelaide in Australia. He developed expertise in primary health care research and mixed (qualitative and quantitative) methods, conducting research that focused on issues in the quality of respiratory care in primary care settings. His research interests include the use of mixed methods to investigate issues in the quality of chronic disease care in primary health care, social epidemiology of chronic illness, and the lived experience of chronic illness.

In 2011 he gained a continuing (tenure track) position in Social Health Sciences which is an academic unit within the Flinders University Prevention, Promotion and Primary Health Care cluster. The workload for this position comprises 30% research, 30% teaching and 40% administration and service to the community. Over the past 12 months he has established a teaching program in undergraduate quantitative research methods for health science students and has been invited to be departmental honours research program coordinator. He provides supervision to research students including honours and PhD students. He is a member of the Public Health Association (South Australia branch) executive committee and is involved in mentoring, scientific committees and policy development in this role.

In the next 12 months he plans to be more focused on research, and is seeking funding to pursue his research goals and establish an independent research program.