Health Systems

The Concept of Dignity in Decision-Making for Terminally Ill Babies

Supervisor

Monique Jonas

Discipline

Health Systems

Project code: MHS042

Since 2017, the English Courts have been asked to determine the permissibility of foregoing possible experimental medical treatment and ending life-sustaining care for at least three babies (Charlie Gard, who suffered from a rare mitochondrial disorder; Alfie Evans, whose neurogenerative disorder is of unknown origin, and Isiah Haastrup, whose traumatic birth left him brain-damaged due to oxygen deprivation). In all three cases the Courts upheld the Hospital Trust’s petition to withdraw life-sustaining care.
Both English and New Zealand law require medical decisions made for babies to conform with the best interests principle. The interests of others, including those of parents, are not able to form a part of the courts determination. The concept of dignity has formed an important part of the legal reasoning about these cases, and ultimately formed the basis for determinations that continued care was in the best interests of these babies. The concept of dignity is complex and controversial and its demands are open to multiple interpretation, not all of which would tell in favour of withdrawing care against parental will.
This summer studentship project will investigate conceptions of dignity in the philosophical and legal literature and case law and apply these conceptions to these three cases, forming the basis for a critical analysis of the judgements.
The successful student will work with Monique Jonas on drafting a manuscript for publication.
Skills taught:
• Ethical analysis
• Analysis of case law
• Academic writing skills – work on a manuscript for publication
• Time management
Student preferences:
• Health Sciences background desirable
• Completion of POPLHLTH 204 Health Care Ethics
• Sound academic writing skills

Improving communication for Asian hospital patients with no or limited English proficiency with a tablet translation app

Supervisor

Karen Day
Janet Liang

Discipline

Health Systems

Project code: MHS120

'Listen Please' is a translation app containing 400 phrases for use in clinical settings, e.g. for everyday brief conversations between patients in hospital and their clinicians. It augments usual translation and interpreter services. New Zealand is increasingly culturally diverse and this has implications for healthcare provision. The Asian ethnic group is particularly fast growing, being expected to rise from 540000 in 2013 to 1.2-1.4 million in 2038. This ethnic group includes significant numbers of non-English speakers within the Auckland region, especially Koreans and Chinese (29.6% and 17.9% in 2013). We have already elicited attitudes and concerns of clinicians - we are now researching the patient's experience.

Aim: Our research project sets out to describe patient usage of “Listen Please” in this ward context and to explore enablers and barriers to its usage.

Method: Interviews with patients. They will include a demonstration of the 'Listen Please' app and discussion of how it works.

Skills you will learn:
- literature review on the research topic
- interviews with Asian patients using “Listen Please”. These patients will be non English speakers or would only speak limited English
- assist writing the findings up in a paper for publication.

If you're interested in this research and you are fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Cantonese, or Korean you will be a valuable contributor to this research project.

Timeliness of Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Supervisor

Rob McNeill

Discipline

Health Systems

Project code: MHS153

The aim of this project will be to use some existing data sets to measure the time it is taking for cancer patients to receive their diagnosis and treatment. The student will work with Dr McNeill and some stakeholders (incl. health services) to produce a brief literature review around the topic and do some of the analysis, as well as assisting in writing a paper for publication. The findings will be useful for identifying areas for service and system improvements.

Skills required: Must have good time management and academic writing, and preferably have some data cleaning and basic statistical knowledge.

The State of Health Services Research in New Zealand

Supervisor

Laura Wilkinson-Meyers

Discipline

Health Systems

Project code: MHS216

Health Services Research is an emerging, multidisciplinary field of study that examines questions of access, equity, quality, cost, and efficiency of health services.

This summer studentship will include a document review of publicly available materials about health services research projects, funding and education opportunities in the New Zealand context to evaluate the current and potential role and impact of the field on health policy and delivery.

A good understanding of the New Zealand health system, strong critical thinking and writing skills and/or the desire to develop these are key for this role.