2016 Colloquium

The 2016 Colloquium started with an introduction from our director, Dr Barry Milne and an outline of the following presentation topics for the day.

A knowledge laboratory of the early life-course

Presented by: Dr Barry Milne

The ‘Knowledge Lab’ micro-simulation project aims to integrate ‘best evidence’ from systematic reviews and meta-analyses into a working model of the early life course (from birth to age 21). The following models for three outcomes were described:

  1. Overweight/obesity
  2. Education (early cognition, school performance, NEET)
  3. Mental health (depression, substance abuse)

This included the development of conceptual frameworks, and populating the model with ‘best’ estimates from meta-analyses and accurate NZ prevalence of risk factors. Dr. Milne demonstrated how the model can be used to test specific scenarios around improving child outcomes.

Suicide postvention: support for Pacific communities

Presented by: Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath and Roy Lay-Yee

This project sought to engage Pacific communities in New Zealand to elucidate culturally relevant ways of supporting those bereaved by suicide, and to develop Pacific suicide postvention guidelines. A survey was conducted among those bereaved by suicide (i.e. family, friends, peers, work colleagues etc., n = 173) as well as service providers (i.e. health professionals, social and community workers, nurses, spiritual leaders etc., n = 70). Further qualitative exploration was undertaken via 16 Pacific focus groups (n = 74). The findings highlighted: the need to destigmatise suicide postvention formal support; the need for culturally appropriate suicide postvention training; culturally competent ways of supporting families; the demand for Pacific postvention guidelines; and the recognition that the make-up of Pacific communities should be reflected in postvention initiatives.

The role of measurement invariance in measures of mental health

Presented by: Dr Nichola Shackleton

Scales are often used to measure different aspects of mental health within social surveys. Meaningful comparisons between groups are possible only when the assumption of ‘measurement invariance’ holds. Measurement invariance suggests that the measure functions in the same way within different groups, i.e. it is working in the same way and measuring the same construct with the same degree of accuracy within those groups. This project uses data from fourteen European countries to assess whether the assumption of measurement invariance is met for the Rosenberg self-esteem scale.  

Life-course predictors of mortality inequalities

Presented by: Liza Bolton

Low SES tends to increase mortality risk, but how exposure patterns across the life-course are related to mortality is not well understood, and has not been explored in the New Zealand context. This research uses New Zealand longitudinal census data to explore whether there is evidence of associations between mortality and cumulative exposure to low SES (accumulation hypothesis), changes in SES between life stages (social mobility hypothesis) and exposure to low SES during specific life stages (sensitive period hypothesis). Understanding these hypotheses in the New Zealand context may allow for better-targeted interventions to address mortality inequalities, for example, disparities between ethnic groups.

COMPASS projects using IDI data

Presented by: Dr Barry Milne

Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) is a collection of de-identified administrative datasets (e.g. on health events, justice contacts, education enrolments, tax paid) that have been linked at the person-level for the whole New Zealand population. IDI is made available for research purposes only. To date most IDI research has been undertaken by government agencies, but academic researchers are increasingly seeing the value of the data. Dr Milne described some of the work COMPASS has underway and has planned with IDI data, and showed how these and other projects are demonstrating the great value of the data.