2023 Colloquium

The 2023 Colloquium took place on Tuesday 26 September in the Stats NZ building at 8 Willis Street, Wellington, with the following presentations.

Intro to COMPASS Research Centre

Barry Milne, Director

Impact of illness & disability on Pacific Peoples in Aotearoa

Barry Milne on behalf of Lisa Underwood, Senior Research Fellow

As global populations age and multi-generational family living increases, more individuals are likely to be impacted by illness and disability within their family. Our findings indicate that in Aotearoa, high levels of family-based support are needed among Pacific Peoples, multi-generation families and those living in high levels of deprivation. Our findings suggest potential gains from culturally appropriate: family-based preventative interventions that address modifiable risk factors; family-wide health screening/assessment; and interventions that include the whole family.

Pacific Cultures: Building blocks for a socially-engaged & cocreated approach to brain health

Dr Ofa Dewes, Research Fellow
Zanetta Toomata, Student

Brain disorders have debilitating effects on older adults. This project seeks to understand how Pacific older adults engage with and participate in wellness and wellbeing service provision and social contexts, and the impact of such participation. A culturally-centred and co-created research approach will be applied to unlock the potential of three Pacific groups in Aotearoa – Tonga, Tokelau, Tuvalu. Working in collaboration with wellness and wellbeing service providers, we will build insights into more accessible and sustainable models of care and practices that become routine at home, in the community, and among service providers. We will use administrative data to identify those affected by mental health, stroke, dementia, and traumatic brain injury among the three Pacific groups.

Mental Health in Pacific Peoples

Barry Milne, Director

This presentation shows findings from a joint venture between the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and the Better Start National Science Challenge. Its aim was to explore the characteristics of Pacific Peoples with mental health conditions using data from the New Zealand Health Survey. We adapted an eight-step tivaivai taorei framework that draws on concepts, practices, and values reflected in the making of an indigenous Cook Islands quilt to instil a Pacific perspective into quantitative interpretations. We highlight significant demographic and socioeconomic associations with anxiety, depression, and psychological distress in Pacific adults, and emotional and behavioural problems in Pacific children. Our findings also reveal the need to improve the representation of Pacific peoples in health surveys. We hope our findings provide insights into realising a healthy, thriving, and resilient population of Pacific peoples of all ages.

Mental health utilisation in refugee adults 2001–2019: Case identification and policy implications

Arezoo Malihi, Research Fellow

Currently, there exists limited information regarding the utilisation of mental health services by refugees in New Zealand. This study's objective was to examine the service utilisation patterns among distinct refugee subgroups within a cohort comprising 24,000 refugee adults identified through the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). We investigated the sociodemographic factors associated with individuals who had accessed specialised mental health services. Subsequently, we compared service utilisation between refugees and a representative sample of the New Zealand resident population spanning the years 2001-2019. Furthermore, time to the first service utilisation compared both within refugee subgroups and between refugees and the general population. In addition, we investigated the prevalence rates of specific mental health conditions, including mood (depression and anxiety), substance use, psychotic, self-harm, and sleep-disorders in refugee and a sample of NZ resident population.

Kumanu Tāngata – The Aftermatch Study: Investigating health outcomes of rugby union players

Stephanie D'Souza, Senior Lecturer

Growing concern surrounds the long-term health implications of playing contact sports, particularly the elevated risk of neurodegenerative diseases. This presentation introduces the Kumanu Tāngata project, a retrospective cohort study involving the linkage of New Zealand's first-class male rugby union players to administrative data in the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI). Rugby players (N = 13,227) will be compared to a general population comparison group (N = 2,438,484) on a range of long-term mortality and morbidity outcomes. The project’s strengths and limitations for understanding the long-term health impacts of contact sports will be discussed and initial findings on health outcomes, including neurodegenerative diseases, will be presented.

Classifying complex illnesses in the IDI: Feasibility study of treatment inequities in multiple sclerosis

Natalia Boven, Post-Doctoral Fellow

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. This study will examine whether there are differences in prescriptions of disease-modifying treatments across ethnic groups and levels of socioeconomic position. This research is a feasibility study to understand the strengths and limitations of using the IDI for identifying complex chronic illnesses to facilitate further research in this area. This talk will discuss the proposal for this research, and why it is important to measure complex illnesses to tackle health inequities.