National Institute for Health Innovation

The afterlife of an app: Do study participants continue to use and engage with a research app after the study ends?

Supervisor

Cliona Ni Mhurchu
Dr Rosie Dobson
Jacqui Grey

Discipline

National Institute for Health Innovation

Project code: MHS082

The OL@-OR@ healthy lifestyle project involved co-designing a lifestyle support mobile health (mHeath) tool with Maori and Pasifika communities to help reduce the risks of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease. During this phase the OL@-OR@ smartphone app and web tool were developed.

A cluster randomised control trial is currently evaluating the effects of the mHealth programme on health behaviours associated with an increased risk of non-communicable disease (diet, physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption) compared to a control condition. The target sample size is 64 clusters with a total of 1280 participants from Maori and Pasifika communities.

The aims of this summer studentship project are to:
1. Search key literature, websites and market reports to determine typical smartphone app usage and engagement (i.e. typical frequency and duration of app use, and variation by app type and demographics)
2. Complete a secondary analysis of OL@-OR@ app data to determine if participants continue to use the app after study completion. The analysis will be done using Google Analytics to measure participant engagement with specific components of the app.
3. Write a short report describing the results of the study

Key skills required: An interest in public health and mobile health, quantitative analysis and experience using google analytics or a willingness to learn.

Skills taught include:
- Literature review methods
- Experience using Google Analytics
- Descriptive data analysis and display
- Report writing

A pilot study of the use of a novel 3D-printed ear splint for the correction of neonatal ear deformities

Supervisor

Gayl Humphrey
A/P Natalie Walker

Discipline

National Institute for Health Innovation

Project code: MHS132

The ear or external pinna is a facial organ which is subject to malformation or deformation that generally present at birth. Many neonates are born with auricular deformities which do not self correct. Often correction is undertaken surgically once the child is older, to prevent psychosocial issues occurring related to teasing and poor self-image. However, surgical correction presents with comorbidities, especially at a young age. Non-surgical correction of ear deformities is a well-accepted principle and is possible to carry out in the first few weeks of life through the use of external splinting (whilst the neonatal ear cartilage is soft and malleable under the influence of circulating residual maternal oestrogen). This principle is well-established, however current non-surgical splinting methods are tedious and difficult to apply and maintain.

This proof-of-concept study aims to test the efficacy of a novel 3D-printed splint in a small number of neonates. Splints will be applied to selected deformed ears before 8 weeks of age, while the cartilage malleability is considerable. Participants will be followed-up over a six week period for remeasurement of ear size to gauge the success of correction, the ease of use of the splint, any side effects of use, and acceptability of the splint to the child’s parents/guardians.

The student will be supported on this project by the listed supervisors, as well as Zac Moaveni (plastic surgeon, Counties Manukau DHB), and Josh Munn (design specialist). This study is ideal for a medical or nursing student with an interest in plastic surgery and/or neonates.

Incidence of neonatal ear deformities in Auckland

Supervisor

Gayl Humphrey
A/P Natalie Walker

Discipline

National Institute for Health Innovation

Project code: MHS133

The outer ear has a complex three dimensional structure made up by skin, cartilage and intrinsic muscles. Ear malformation is defined by the absence of epithelium or cartilage, leading to an underdeveloped pinna. Malformation presentations include cryptotia, anotia, and microtia. In contrast to malformation, ear components are fully developed in deformation, but the pinna is misshaped. Absence of or faults in hillock fusion in gestation can result in malformation and deformation of the ear. Deformation presentations include prominent ear, lop ear, Stahl ear, Darwinian notch, and conchal crus.

No data on the standard ear size in New Zealand neonates is available, yet is needed for assessment of the effectiveness of treatments for deformity correction. International data indicate that the incidence of ear deformities is highly variable, and dependent on the definition used. Data on the incidence of ear deformities in New Zealand neonates is unknown, but needed to enable accurate allocation of healthcare resources related to management of the issue.

This study aims to collect ear parameter measurements across various hospitals in Auckland, in order to determine the normal range of ear size in New Zealand neonates under the age of 8 weeks. Neonates with auricles containing deformities will also have ear parameter measurements recorded to determine the incidence of ear deformities, with categorization of anomalies into deformity type. This study will also assess parental beliefs surrounding management of ear deformities in their neonate, and investigate factors which may contribute to increased likelihood of the presence of an ear deformity at birth.

The student will be supported on this project by the listed supervisors, as well as Zac Moaveni (plastic surgeon, Counties Manukau DHB). It is anticipated that the results from the study will be published in a peer-reviewed journal, with the student as a listed author.

Impact of Population Health Intensive on year 5 medical students: Review of a decade of student evaluations

Supervisor

Chris Bullen

Discipline

National Institute for Health Innovation

Project code: MHS136

The project will involve several elements:

First, a background literature review on how public health is taught in medical courses around the globe, and how this is changing.
The review will include a review of material on Population Health Intensive - student guides, meeting minutes and so on.

Second, key informant interviews with academics and teaching and learning administrators at the University of Auckland about the programme will be undertaken. To do this will involve obtaining ethics approval from the University Ethics Committee in advance of the studentship commencing.

The final element involves an analysis of each year's student programme evaluations for the past decade - simple quantitative and qualitative analyses will be involved.

The major outputs will be 1)a paper to be submitted for publication in an academic journal on medical education; 2)a presentation to the Medical Programme Directorate.

Probiotics, health and addiction: Is there a connection? Literature review and study protocol

Supervisor

Chris Bullen

Discipline

National Institute for Health Innovation

Project code: MHS137

This project will be a desktop exercise, working closely with experts in addiction research and epidemiologists at the School of Population Health.
First, it will involve critically reviewing the literature on the links between probiotics and human health, in particular with mental health and addictions (in particular to tobacco smoking). This could lead to a publication.
Second, drawing on this review, the student will design a study to test the hypothesis that use of probiotics in people with tobacco dependence may enhance recovery, including smoking abstinence. This will form part of a grant application.

The project products will be a potentially publishable literature review, and a draft study protocol.

Incorporating patient preferences into mHealth intervention content

Supervisor

Rosie Dobson
Robyn Whittaker

Discipline

National Institute for Health Innovation

Project code: MHS211

We have a number of exciting mHealth projects in development and a looking for a student to help with developing an intervention content framework from formative data including patient and clinician feedback. We have conducted patient and clinician surveys and interviews to explore perspectives and feedback on what should be included in the mHealth programme. Additionally there are patient resources and guideline documents that need to form the basis of the programme content.

The project will involve collating this information into a framework in a way that is evidence based providing consistent content but incorporates the patient and clinician needs and preferences.

The student will gain learning about the development of the next generation of digital interventions for population health, an understanding of participatory design methods, and writing skills.