Public Health

Tracking changes to New Zealand’s food environment in relation to free trade and investment agreements, and implications for population nutrition

Supervisor

Dr. Kelly Garton 
Dr. Sally Mackay

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS007

The liberalisation of international trade and foreign direct investment through multilateral, regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements has profoundly changed the structure and nature of food systems globally and, thereby, local food environments. Food environments refer to the availability, nutritional quality, accessibility, price, and promotion of foods in different locations – all of which influence consumer dietary behaviours. Public health attention has only relatively recently turned to the links between trade and investment agreements, diets and health, and there is currently no systematic monitoring of this area.

This research explores the question: what have been the impacts of trade and investment liberalisation on the New Zealand food environment?

The project will involve a quantitative retrospective time-series analysis of trade and investment (import and export) flows and consumer purchasing for several specific food categories, using data from Euromonitor International and the UN Commodity Trade (Comtrade) Statistics Database.

This research will be part of a larger effort to inform better approaches to international trade policy that protect and promote population health and wellbeing.

Skills required: Quantitative data analysis

Palm oil labelling in the New Zealand packaged food supply

Supervisors

Kathryn Bradbury

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS008

Palm oil labelling in the New Zealand packaged food supply.

Background:
Palm oil has several properties that make it desirable for use in industrial food products. However, palm oil is unusual for a vegetable oil in that it contains a high proportion of saturated fat, and has been shown in trials to increase LDL cholesterol concentrations. Palm oil is grown in tropical locations and large areas of forests have been burned to clear land for oil palm plantations. The burning of foresets emits greenhouse gases and leads to loss of has habitat for many endangered species. Currently, it is difficult in New Zealand for consumers to make informed choices about whether their food purchases contain palm oil becuase under the food standards code, manufacturers can use generic terms such as “vegetable oil” or “vegetable fat” on the ingredient list, and do not need to specify “palm oil”.

Project description:
This project will use Nutritrack - a database of packaged food products from 4 major supermarkets in Auckland. The project will involve calculating the proportion of food products that state “vegetable oil”, “vegetable fat”, or “palm oil” in the ingredients list. For products that list “palm oil” as an ingredient, archived photographs of the products will be examined to see if any claims around sustainability are made, for example “sustainable palm oil”. In addition, New Zealand customs data on palm kernel and palm oil imports will be extracted and summarised. This project would suit a student interested in the the health and enviromental impacts of food.

Useful skills:
This project would suit a student who is competent in Excel.

Let’s get all Kiwi kids ready for school!

Supervisors

Dr Nike Franke
Dr Chris McKinlay

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS010

This project aims to address concerns raised around the national Before School Check. This national screening programme was introduced to assess children’s school readiness. However, its efficacy has been questioned due to reports of poor detection rates, low referral rates when difficulties are identified, and reinforcement of existing disparities, especially for children who are Maori, Pacific, live in higher deprivation areas and have health risk factors. We plan to identify and test effective and acceptable measures and interventions to ensure all Kiwi kids are ready for school.

Summer research tasks would be based on student interests and could include literature review, ethics applications, development of a research protocol, creation of focus group discussion questions, contribution to Kaupapa Maori research methods. The work from this studentship will contribute to a peer-reviewed journal publication.

This project is best suited for students with a background in social science, health, or education, and ideally of Maori or Pacific background.

Whanau/ family engagement study

Supervisors

Dr Nike Franke

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS011

With this study we will investigate the experience of being part of a trial as a child. We will recruit now-adult children of mothers who took part in one of two randomised trials involving antenatal corticosteroids, who are currently in their 20s or 50s. We will use individual/group discussions to understand their views on consent and assent and which aspects of health, development, and well-being are important to them as potential trial outcomes.

Summer research tasks would be based on student interests and could include individual/ group discussions, qualitative data-analysis, and literature review. The student will be co-author of the resultant paper.

This project is best suited for students with a background in social science, health, or education.

The nutritional content and longevity of healthier packaged foods

Supervisor

Leanne Young (027 341 4202)
Kathryn Bradbury

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS014

Background: In response to consumer feedback and public health nutrition recommendations, food manufacturers are reformulating packaged foods by reducing the content of negative nutrients, sugar and sodium, and increasing the content of positive nutrients, protein and fibre. While reformulation as a strategy has the potential to improve the nutritional quality of foods and population diets, reformulated products may not last long on the market if consumer acceptability of the product is low. A recent example of this is Uncle Toby’s low sugar Cheerios that have been deleted from the market due to low demand.

Aim: The aim of this study is to investigate the nutritional profile, lifecycle and sales of reformulated products displaying a nutrition claim (e.g. low sugar/salt and high fibre/protein) in specific food categories.

This project will involve using data from the Nutritrack food composition and Nielsen Homescan® databases to quantify and assess the success of product reformulation in specific food categories. Study findings will inform research investigating the healthiness of the food supply and interventions to improve population diet.

Skills required: Quantitative data analysis

Soil Safe Kids and Garden to Table: school-based gardening programmes and child health and wellbeing

Supervisor

Dr Victoria Egli
Dr Emma Sharp

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS019

Students with an interest in children's environments, nutrition, play and/or environmental science are encouraged to apply. This project will be undertaken in partnership with The School of Nursing, The School of the Environment and Garden to Table Trust. It will involve undertaking a systematic literature review of school-based gardening programmes and child health and wellbeing. Students with previous experience using library databases and excellent writing ability preferred.

Healthy Messages for Healthy Kids

Supervisor

Dr Victoria Egli

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS020

Students with an interest in health communication, health promotion, children's rights and child health are encouraged to apply. Students who will be based in Tamaki Makaurau Auckland during the time of the studentship will be preferred to assist with data collection, stakeholder engagement, analysis and/or reporting of the Healthy Messages for Healthy Kids Project.

Identifying factors for postgraduate student achievement in a buddy group programme

Supervisor

Marcus Alexander Henning (09 923 7392)
Yan Chen
Mataroria Lyndon
Angela Tsai
Joseph Chen
Julia Plank

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS027

Aims
The postgraduate journey can be fraught with both personal and academic challenges. Navigating such challenges can adversely affect psychological well-being and subsequently, student achievement.

An initiative linking groups of pre-doctoral postgraduate students to current doctoral candidates in an inaugural “buddy group programme” is being piloted this year. These buddy groups will meet once per fortnight and attend seminars related to career advancement. Buddies (i.e. the pre-doctoral students) stand to gain improved horizontal and vertical social support; and buddy group leaders (i.e. the doctoral candidate) potentially gain improved leadership and self-efficacy skills. This programme aims to improve the psychological well-being in postgraduate students (i.e. both buddies and leaders) – potentially improving student achievement.

The successful candidate for this summer research scholarship aims to evaluate this programme by interviewing both buddies and buddy group leaders of the inaugural programme. The analyses of this data will identify domains by which buddies and buddy group leader gained the most out of this programme. This analysis informs future questionnaire choice when evaluating the future faculty-wide rollout of this programme.

Skills

  • Conduct a literature review to appraise the efficacy of similar programmesoperating elsewhere (NZ and overseas)
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • Interpersonal interviewing skills
  • Report writing

Embedding gender, sex & sexual diversity (LGBTTQIA+) into nursing education

Supervisor

Natalie Anderson (09 923 7874)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS031

A multi-disciplinary group of educators and LGBTTQIA+ health advocates are undertaking a project to embed gender, sex and sexual diversity content into our nursing degree programme. The successful candidate for this summer research scholarship will be exploring student perceptions of their learning in this area, and its nursing application.

The ideal candidate will be enthusiastic about LGBTTQIA+ health, have strong writing skills and a background in health, social sciences or education.

Skills involved in the project:

  • Literature review
  • Quantitative analysis (Survey data)
  • Qualitative analysis (Focus group data)
  • Writing for publication

Hitting or missing the target? Are New Zealand packaged foods meeting food industry nutrient targets?

Supervisors

Prof Cliona Ni Mhurchu (09 923 4494)
Dr Helen Eyles

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS040

Many countries around the world have taken steps to improve the nutritional profile of packaged foods by setting targets designed to stimulate incremental positive changes to product formulations, sometimes referred to as ‘health by stealth’, providing consumers with a wider access to, and a larger number of, more healthy foods. Evidence suggests such targets can achieve significant sodium reductions in targeted food products. Although New Zealand does not yet have government-led food reformulation targets, other relevant government-led reformulation programmes are in progress on a global level.

The aim of this project is to assess how well New Zealand packaged foods meet the Australian Healthy Food Partnership targets for 41 food categories . The project will use data from the New Zealand Nutritrack database  to examine how many New Zealand packaged foods meet targets for sodium, sugar and saturated fat.

The ideal candidate will have an interest in population health and nutrition, excellent written and oral communication skills, be self-motivated, able to work independently and as part of a team. Experience/skills working with databases and quantitative research methods would be an advantage.

The successful applicant will gain experience in writing a study protocol, data management and analysis, and scientific writing.

Home-grown tobacco in Auckland's Pacific communities: who is growing, selling and using it, and why?

Supervisors

Chris Bullen (021 415 267)
Malakai Ofanoa
Vili Nosa

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS041

According to news reports, tobacco is being grown and sold, illegally within Auckland's Pacific (particularly Tongan) communities, at levels that may be a challenge to the dramatic declines in smoking prevalence needed to achieve NZ's Smoke-free 2025 goal. However, there has been no research investigating the reasons behind this issue, such as who the growers are, who the users are that are demanding the product, how it is used, marketed and sold.

Aims: The aims of this project are to describe the product and it's supply-chain to consumers; and to describe their knowledge of the law and the health effects of smoking tobacco in any form.

Methods: Potential participants will be identified via community networking and snowballing techniques. Qualitative research methods will be used, collecting data via key informant interviews with a sample of growers, sellers and users; and analysing the data using general thematic analysis.

Some experience in conducting interviews would be helpful but not essential as the supervisors have a vast experience in this approach. A student with Tongan language fluency and cultural familiarity, would be advantageous.

Because of the illegal nature of growing tobacco for sale in NZ, security risks may exist, and the student would need to be aware of and prepared for, to ensure safety.

The project would need ethics approval; this will be obtained before the student starts. The project will take around 10 weeks over the summer break.

The nutritional content of school lunches available at convenience stores

Supervisors

Leanne Young (027 341 4202)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS044

Convenience stores have been shown to sell unhealthy and ultra-processed foods. In low-income areas, these stores sell pre-packaged school lunch packs that contain unhealthy ultra-processed foods and sugary beverages for a low-cost price. Examples of food choices found in these packs are muesli bars, biscuits, fruit juice drink, and potato chips. Fruit and vegetables are usually not included. The aim of this project is to determine the availability, promotion, labelling and nutritional content of these packs and compare them with the Ministry of Health Food Guidance for Schools criteria. This would suit someone with an interest in the healthiness of children’s food environments and quantitative research skills. This project will add to the knowledge about children's food environments in low-income areas.

Seeing Eye to Eye: The Development of a Website which provides a resource about the literature surrounding Gender Equality in surgery

Supervisor

Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer (021 229 1840)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS046

Seeing Eye to Eye: A focus on women in ophthalmology

In recent decades, women have achieved greater representation in ophthalmology. Globally, women now constitute about 25-30% of ophthalmologists, and 35-45% of trainees. Nevertheless, women remain under-represented in key areas, including positions of professional and academic leadership and ophthalmic surgical subspecialisation. Furthermore, there is evidence that women in ophthalmology encounter more bias and discrimination across multiple domains than men, including a gender-pay gap that is wider than in many other surgical subspecialties. Women ophthalmologists and trainees report sharply differing training experiences from male peers, including fewer opportunities to operate, more bullying and harassment, less access to mentorship, and contrasting expectations around contributions to family life.

This summer studentship will involve collating a database of relevant scientific articles, webinars, podcasts and other material which addresses the issues of gender equality in medicine, research and more specifically surgery. The summer student will create a website which will contain the identified information as a resource.

The summer student will be involved in literature searches, google searches and should be comfortable navigating through social media platforms to find useful resources. It would be helpful if the summer student had experience in website development, but not necessary.

A Survey of use of the ophthalmology services based on ethnicities

Supervisors

Professor Helen Danesh-Meyer (021 222 91840)
Dr Rachael Niedererer
Dr William Cunningham

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS047

Experiences of inequalities are recognised to be associated with poor health outcomes. The aim of this project is to explore the utilisation of ophthalmology services in ADHB based on ethnicity by undertaking an Audit to describe ethnic differences in utilisation of ophthalmology services.

The summer studen will undertake a clinical audit of patients who have attended the ADHB Ophthalmology Service and explore the range of conditions, severity, to identify ethnic differences in access to ophthalmology care and referral patterns.

Applications from students with an interest in Maori and Pasifika themes are especially welcome. Skills required include communication, initiative, independence and an ability to work well within a team.

How can we help? Older people's perspectives on receiving help during Covid-19 - a qualitative study

Supervisors

Janine Wiles (09 923 6553)
Merryn Gott
Lisa Williams
Tessa Morgan

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS052

Those 70 and over are singled out as the group most vulnerable to being impacted by COVID-19 (NZ Government, 2020). Given the immediate and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on those over-70, it is imperative that robust evidence be collected concerning their experiences so that appropriate interventions can be designed and implemented. We conducted a qualitative letter-writing study between April 2020-April 2021 inviting people 70 and over to share their experiences of COVID-19 lockdown. We have so far received more than 800 letters from 850 people 70 and over across of Aotearoa, NZ. These letters have all been databased and indexed using the qualitative software NVIVO12. We are seeking a summer student to conduct a qualitative thematic analysis on a sub-set of this data, answering the following questions: How was help discussed by older people during the pandemic? How was ‘help’ received? How was the concept of burden discussed? What are the implications for what are the best ways to offer help?

Skills developed:

  • literature searching
  • conceptual development
  • qualitative data management
  • reflexive thematic analysis
  • NVivo software

What are the perceptions of New Zealanders aged >70 years regarding media portrayals of older people during the pandemic?

Supervisors

Merryn Gott (021 246 2197)
Janine Wiles
Lisa Williams
Tessa Morgan

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS053

Those 70 and over are singled out as the group most vulnerable to being impacted by COVID-19 (NZ Government, 2020). Given the immediate and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on those over-70, it is imperative that robust evidence be collected concerning their experiences so that appropriate interventions can be designed and implemented. We conducted a qualitative letter-writing study between April 2020-April 2021 inviting people 70 and over to share their experiences of COVID-19 lockdown. We have so far received more than 700 letters from 850 people 70 and over across of Aotearoa, NZ. These letters have all been databased and indexed using the qualitative software NVIVO12. We are seeking a summer student to conduct a qualitative thematic analysis on a sub-set of this data, answering the following question: What were the perceptions of New Zealanders aged >70 years regarding media portrayals of older people during the Covid-19 pandemic?

Skills developed:

  • literature searching
  • conceptual development
  • qualitative data management
  • reflexive thematic analysis
  • NVivo software

Promoting equity considerations in palliative care research

Supervisor

Merryn Gott (021 246 2197)
Tessa Morgan
Lisa Williams
Jackie Robinson

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS054

Quality appraisal tools used in systematic reviews to evaluate palliative care literature do not adequately address issues related to equity and the social determinants of end of life experience. This studentship will involve working with researchers from the Te Arai Palliative Care and End of Life Research group to develop an Equity Quality Appraisal Tool for use in palliative care. This will involve building on work the group have already undertaken to develop a Feminist Quality appraisal tool (1). The student will be supported to review relevant literature and identify optimum ways in which equity can be critically examined in palliative care research in terms of study design, data collection, analysis, discussion and recommendations.

Skills developed:

  • literature searching and appraisal
  • conceptual development
  • reflexive thematic analysis
  • writing for publication

Reference: (1) Morgan, T., Williams, L. A., & Gott, M. (2017). A Feminist Quality Appraisal Tool: exposing gender bias and gender inequities in health research. Critical Public Health, 27(2), 263-274.

Understanding factors related to active school travel for Maori tamariki

Supervisor

Rhys Jones (09 923 5126)
Melody Smith

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS060

Active school travel is an important contributor to health in tamariki, through promoting physical activity, connections with community and the environment, and lowering air and noise pollution through reducing motorised vehicle use. An online survey has been conducted with parents about factors related to their child’s usual mode of travel to school.

We are seeking a Maori student to undertake Maori-specific analyses using data collected from this survey.

This project will involve undertaking a literature review regarding active travel in Maori tamariki, and undertaking quantitative descriptive analyses and content coding with the survey data.

Skills learned through the project:

  • Literature searching
  • Academic writing
  • Content coding
  • Quantitative descriptive analyses

Be Health-Wise: A pilot healthy eating initiative

Supervisors

Dr Ryan San Diego (09 923 8510)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS073

Be Health-Wise is a pilot healthy eating initiative for elderly Chinese communities In Counties Manukau. It aims to increase awareness of healthy eating habits and increase knowledge of nutritional information amongst elderly Chinese people. The initiative has two components - nutrition talk and cooking demonstration. Both contents delivered face to face and online via WeChat Chinese social media platform in collaboration with three Chinese organisations. The target participants of the initiative is Chinese people aged 65 and above. Pre and post evaluation at the face to face workshop, Comments and questions posted on WeChat, and Feedback from collaborators will be evaluated to determine the success of the pilot initiative.

Summer student will work closely with the primary supervisor to undertake the following tasks in preparation for the healthy eating initiative.

  • Systematic Literature Review
  • Qualitative Data Analysis
  • Engagement with stakeholders
  • Data Management

Pacific cultural practices to inform positive health promotion messages for Pacific communities.

Supervisor

Associate Professor Vili Nosa  (09 236 906)
Dr John Sluyter

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS081

Aim: The aim of this project is a literature review about the use of Pacific cultural practices to inform positive health promotion messages for Pacific communities.

Objectives: To examine and to discuss the use of Pacific cultural practices to inform positive health promotion messages for Pacific communities.

Skills that will be taught to the student:

  • Searching data bases and research articles.
  • Analysing relevant literature.
  • Report writing.
  • Developing a peer reviewed article for publication.

Clinial teaching and consulting via telehealth: the experience of clinical supervisors of undergraduate medical students

Supervisors

Rachel Roskvist
Kyle Eggleton
Felicity Goodyear-Smith
Emily Gill
Andy Wearn
Shomel Gauznabi
Laura Chapman

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS084

Aims: Much has been written about planning and delivering learning at the bedside/deskside in clinical settings. The equivalent of in-person bedside/deskside consulting using telehealth is synchronous exchange, which means real-time communication between patient and provider through either phone or video call. Telehealth has been with us for a couple of decades, but has small scale impact in the mainstream until 2020. COVID-19 drove a shift to telehealth. It is important that students are included in telehealth interactions as they provide a context for learning that is both similar and different to in-person indications.

We are undertaking a qualitative (interview based) study to explore the experience of clinicians undertaking clinical teaching with senior medical students when telehealth consulting, identify challengers and barriers faced, and formulate recommendations for teaching when telehealth consulting.

The successful candidate for this summer research scholarship will be involved in undertaking literature review, assisting with data analysis, report writing, and help with preparing a paper for publication.

In addition to working on this project the student may (if time allows) be able to be involved in another qualitative project investigating the support needs of GP supervisors to provide good clinical teaching

Skills:

  • Conduct a literature review to appraise the current literature with regards clinical teaching when telehealth consulting
  • Qualitative data analysis
  • Report writing

Compiling the evidence to advocate for restricting marketing of unhealthy food to children in NZ

Supervisors

Dr Sally Mackay (021 024 26760)
Dr Kelly Garton

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS089

Aim: To compile existing evidence from international and NZ studies and community voices to support an advocacy campaign to restrict marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children.

Background: A coalition of health organisations is working together to advocate for mandatory restrictions on advertising unhealthy foods and non-alcoholic beverages to children. We are compiling current evidence from NZ and other countries on exposure of children to marketing of unhealthy food and beverages. There is limited information on current advertising practices of major food companies in New Zealand, including on social media so we are investigating methods used to monitor the exposure of unhealthy marketing to children on social media. Non-government agencies are engaging with communities to understand their perspective on marketing to children.

Project: Update a 2018 evidence document on restricting marketing to children and write an executive summary. Review current methods for monitoring exposure of unhealthy advertising on social media and recommend possible methods for use in New Zealand.

Skills required: Interest in public health nutrition, literature review skills

Costs associated with hospitalization for Status Epilepticus in Auckland

Supervisors

Dr Braden Te Ao (09 923 5046)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS095

Purpose and aim: Status epilepticus (SE) is a major neurological condition associated with significant morbidity and mortality both nationally and internationally. Cost of illness studies are limited, however examining the costs attributed to SE may provide essential information to health care funders and planners on the burden of an important neurological condition. The aim is to estimate hospitalization cost for people with Status Epilepticus in Auckland, and to identify drivers of high hospitalization cost for high need individuals.

The successful candidate for this summer research scholarship will be able to develop the following skills:

  1. Review the literature on appropriate methods for estimating hospitalization costs associated with SE.
  2. Analyzing hospitalization data
  3. Summarizing the findings
  4. Working towards publication of the findings

Ideal applicants:

  • Interest in Health Economics, Health Services Research or Health Policy
  • keen to work with quantitative data

Epidemiology and costs of fractures in NZ

Supervisors

Brya Matthews (09 923 3193)
Sarah-Jane Paine

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS097

Fractures are a common outcome of various types of injury, and can cause morbidity at all life stages. However, the literature focuses on fracture in the elderly attributed to osteoporosis. Data on hip fractures predominates, and overall fracture rates are often estimated on the basis of hip fracture numbers. In this study, we will use datasets from across New Zealand to estimate fracture rates at different ages, and broken down by gender and ethnicity.

In this project, we will use data from ACC, the Ministry of Health, and possibly the New Zealand Hip Fracture Registry. Our first aim is to evaluate the incidence of fractures in different ethnic groups with a particular focus on the burden for Maori, age brackets, and genders. Our second aim is to evaluate the treatment costs for different types of fracture, and how these change with age and ethnicity. These costs include surgical and medical costs, as well as non-medical costs as an estimate of morbidity of these injuries. We expect that this data will clarify both the incidence and costs of fracture in New Zealand, and highlight the need for both fracture prevention where feasible, and research to develop treatments that promote healing and potentially speed up recovery.

Skills: Student should be competent with basic data organisation and filtering in Excel, experience with other statistical packages an advantage.

Soundscape as an avenue to mindfulness in hearing health

Supervisors

David Welch (09 923 9459)
Kim Dirks
Daniel Shepherd
Ravi Reddy

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS098

The soundscape is a person’s perceptual representation of their sound environment. Our research group has investigated its measurement and developed an instrument to assess how people experience it. We now seek to explore ways that the soundscape can be used to help people understand and value more about their hearing, or to become more accepting of hearing and listening problems. Hearing difficulties have large and negative impacts on people’s lives and mindfulness has been shown to be an effective approach to help them deal with some of the issues that arise. The appreciation of the soundscape has a lot in common with the concept of mindfulness, and this project will explore ways in which the soundscape will contribute to mindfulness about hearing.

The research will include a combination of quantitative (questionnaire) and qualitative (interview) data. We will seek to prompt people to consider the soundscape using the questionnaire, then to interview them about their experience. By recruiting participants with a range of hearing and hearing problems, we will explore whether different soundscapes have different types of influence on people’s experience of their own hearing; by using the perspective of mindfulness, we will explore how awareness of the soundscape supports this.

Adapting the Dangerous Decibels programme

Supervisors

David Welch (09 923 9459)
Ravi Reddy
Eranthi Liyanaduwa Kankanamge

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS099

Noise-induced hearing loss has a large and negative impact on people’s lives. Our research group have done a lot of work in helping to develop the Dangerous Decibels programme for hearing-health promotion. The programme is international and has been proven to be effective in helping children and adults learn about the need and desire to protect their hearing from dangerously loud sounds. We are currently looking into developing new approaches for the programme, including adding new components, shortening or removing existing components, and developing different modes of delivery (e.g. online). In this research project, you will work with our team to find a project within this that helps the team and also suits your skills and interests. Together, we will develop the new aspect of the programme and in conjunction we will develop an assessment module to dovetail with our existing evaluation instrument. You would deliver the new version to target groups and conduct a before and after evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the new component and its impact on the programme as a whole. This project will be valuable either as a component in our existing programme of research or as pilot research for our future investigations.

What does it mean when they say 'Cheeeeeese'?

Supervisors

Lisa Williams (09 236 768)
Tessa Morgan
Merryn Gott

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS106

This project is in support of the research project, Have Our Say, in which people 70+ sent letters and photographs detailing their experiences during Aotearoa/New Zealand's first Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. We received more than 800 letters and many people sent photographs. We would like to use these photographs as a means of data analysis. As a preliminary step, we require a literature search to be conducted on relevant methods used in health-related disciplines that incorporate images as data for analysis. The student would gain important skills in literature searches, using the library and writing up their data as a report and/or academic paper for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. Our research team, Te Arai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group has had success with helping summer students achieve such goals in the past.

Covid-19 lockdown and risk of preterm birth

Supervisors

John Thompson (027 807 9582)
Edwin Mitchell

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS108

On 19 July 2020 an article in the New York Times highlighted that two studies in Ireland and Denmark that had independently observed that the rate of preterm births had decreased during COVID-19 lockdown. Since then there have been various reports from single centres that have been conflicting. Interestingly, both National Women’s Health and Middlemore Hospital in Auckland observed a reduction in admissions to neonatal intensive care during the first Covid-19 lockdown. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected birth rates in Aotearoa New Zealand with a decline of 5% in non- Maori births, but no change in Maori births.

The aim of this study is to confirm or refute the decrease in preterm births in Aotearoa New Zealand using the National Maternity Collection (MAT) which is sourced from lead maternity carer (LMC) claims for payment.

Skills learned will include:

  • Review of the literature
  • Simple descriptive statistics
  • Report writing

Skills: A knowledge of statistics would be beneficial

Children's inclusion and participation in Covid-19 public health promotion

Supervisors

Julie Spray (09 923 6553)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS112

Globally, scholars have noted how children have often been overlooked or rendered invisible in Covid-19 public health policy, messaging and media. This project investigates how children have been represented or included/excluded in/from Covid-19 public health approaches in New Zealand. A second strand of the investigation will compare these representations to children’s actual lived experiences of and participation in public health promotion.

The student will:

  1. collect and analyze policy and media documents
  2. assist with designing and conducting child-centered research activities and interviews with children and families. The student will gain skills in discourse and visual analysis, childhood theory, child-centered research methods, and report writing.

This study is part of a broader investigation into children’s inclusion in health care and policy. The student should have experience working with children and critical analysis and communication skills. A background in social science, child health, or health promotion and in-depth experience of diverse communities (e.g. ethnic, rural, disabled) would be assets.

Telehealth and Primary Care: where are we up to?

Supervisors

Emily Gill (021 025 40285)
Rachel Roskvist
Karen Day

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS115

Aims: Telehealth became the most practical option for general practice consultations in Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) as a result of the national lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic. To better understand the change and future-proof this consultation mode, our research question is: What is the consumer experience of access to telehealth and how do consumers and providers perceive this mode of care delivery going forward? A national survey of general practice consumers and providers is underway that aims to explore the use of video and phone consultations and describe consumers’ access to telehealth and perceptions regarding future use of telehealth in general practice.

A literature review will improve understanding of the statistically analysed survey data, to create a foundation for in-depth research on the use of telehealth services in NZ general practice, with a specific focus on the consumer experiences of access to telehealth consultations.

The successful summer research candidate will conduct a scoping literature review and prepare a manuscript for publication. Furthermore, the student will learn about the survey project and, time and interest permitting, may assist with survey data analysis, interpretation, and additional manuscript preparation.

Skills:

  • Conduct a literature review
  • Report writing
  • Computer and typing proficiency

What do falls look like for older people in residential care

Supervisors

Ngaire Kerse (027 439 3788)
Lynne Taylor

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS121

The Staying Upright in Residential Care project is a randomised trial of a physio-delivered exercise programme in Aged Residential Care (care homes) and has enrolled over 500 participants. This studentship will focus on the available information about falls available from care homes reporting processes, interRAI data from standardised assessment completed in care homes and data gathered by research interviews on physical performance and cognition.

The aim of the studentship is to described falls and injury in care homes related to timing and circumstances of the fall prior to the start of hte activity programmes and examine associations between falls and physical function.

The student will work with a team of experienced researchers: Lynne Taylor, John Parsons, Sue Lord, all experienced academic phyios, Ngaire Kerse, GP with expertise in falls prevention and supported data analysts and experts, Simon Moyes and Alana Cavadino.

Tasks will include data manipulation, basic descriptive statistics, analyses of associations guided by experts. Exploring and displaying data using visual and tabular forms. Preparation of a manuscript about that data.

Visits to a facility and attendance at group meetings will enhance the appreciation of research with older people.

Reporting systems for Maori medical students after exposure (direct and vicarious) to racism, discrimination, bullying and harassment.

Supervisors

Associate Professor Donna Cormack (021 844 620)
Dr Claire Gooder

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS123

This summer student scholarship project will be part of the research project, Te Whakahaumaru Taiao (TWT): Safe Environments for Maori Medical Practitioners. The impetus of TWT is to advocate for environments free from racism, discrimination, bullying, and harassment for Maori medical students and doctors. The broader project includes qualitative interviews, a quantitative survey of Maori medical students and doctors, an environmental scan and development of resources for interventions.

This summer student scholarship project will be part of the environmental scan and will involve collating information on types of reporting systems for medical students in training and education environments. There is currently limited information about the reporting systems that Maori medical students can use after exposures (direct and vicarious) to racism, discrimination, bullying and harassment. This project will investigate effectiveness of reporting systems – different types, for whom and whether these are situation dependent. The project will include a literature review and collation of background and policy information to understand current reporting systems.

Analysis of factors influencing optometry student career choices

Supervisor

Andrew Collins (09 923 6484)
Antonia Verstappen

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS126

The University of Auckland Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences Health Careers Pathway Project collects demographic and career intention data from health professional students (medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and optometry) at entry and exit from their programmes. Optometry students have been surveyed for eight years with exit data available for four cohorts. This project has ethics approval.

Study Aims:

  • Describe patterns in the key factors influencing optometry student career choices including region of origin and initial practice;
  • Undertake a factor analysis to determine whether influencing factors can be grouped into categories;
  • Document changes in students’ influencing factors over time;
  • Explore the relationship between key influencing factors at entry and exit.

Skills taught:

  • Use of large datasets
  • Anonymised data will be compared across cohort groups at entry and exit Statistics
  • Summary statistics, tests for categorical data and trend, factor analysis
  • Writing for publication
  • The student is expected to contribute significantly to a research paper

Expected research impact:
First analysis of optometry student entrance and exit data, which can help inform admissions targeting of under-represented groups.
First analysis of optometry student career choices which can inform workforce planning including the expanding role of optometrists in eye health services.

Older people using the LifeCurve App, what does it mean

Supervisors

Ruth Teh (09 923 7517)
Ngaire Kerse

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS127

The AWESSoM programme is an integrated set of projects improving health for old people. Those at risk of functional decline in Howick and Tauranga area have been engaged in the programme, data has been collected about health and social wellbeing, and participants will be using a phone and web-based application, Life-Curve (the APP). Self-reported function from the APP establishes a LifeCurve level, and how this level reflects functional status is not clear.

This studentship aims to establish the association between LifeCurve level measured by the APP and functional status established independently in older people at risk of functional decline.

The student will work with several sources of data, organise, clean and match datasets, and use descriptive and inferential statistics to address the project aim. working with a team of experienced researchers: Ruth Teh, Ngaire Kerse, Sue Lord, with the range of skills needed to support data collection and analysis.

Tasks and skills development will include technical data manipulation, basic descriptive statistics, Exploring and displaying data using visual and tabular forms and statistical analyses, and preparation of a manuscript.

Attendance at group meetings will enhance the appreciation of research with older people. This project would suit a statistics student.

Understanding trajectories of involvement for Maori, Pacific and Asian participants within a longitudinal cohort study.

Supervisor

Fiona Langridge (021 242 4362)
Denise Neumann

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS133

Growing up in New Zealand (http://www.growingup.co.nz) has followed approximately 7,000 children during their mothers’ late pregnancy and, so far, up to eight years of age. This longitudinal study aims to understand the needs, life trajectories, developmental experience and aspirations of our participants and their families in New Zealand today. The children are now 12 years of age, and the next data collection wave is in the field in 2021.

Over time longitudinal studies must grapple with response and retention, particularly how to ensure response rates continue to include excellent representation across all groups. This project will investigate retention rates over time in Growing Up in New Zealand and the factors that contribute to non-response and attrition, with a focus on our three ethnicity themes: Maori, Pacific and Asian.

These findings will assist in informing strategies to support our Maori, Pacific and Asian engagement and re-engagement for future data collection waves. This project will provide an opportunity for a student interested in child health, population health and equity to learn independent research skills, including literature review, data analysis, presentation of results, and communication of research findings. Support will be provided from our culture and identity and theme leads.

Mental health and well-being among gay and bisexual men

Supervisors

Ryan San Diego
Peter Saxton

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS136

Aims: To explore mental health and drug use among gay and bisexual men and how these relate to social connections (health services, support groups). Data come from Flux NZ, a national cross-sectional online study of gay and bisexual men in 2019. This is a NZ arm of a widely published Australian study. The student will work with the NZ-based supervisors to refine the research question/s and then undertake the appropriate data analysis. The study has ethics approval and data have been collected. It is a partnership with the Kirby Institute UNSW Australia and HIV and harm reduction organisations NZ AIDS Foundation, Body Positive, NZ Drug Foundation, Needle Exchange Programme and Te Whariki Takapou.

Skills learnt:

  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Conducting a systematic literature review
  • Quantitative Analyses
  • Drafting a journal article for publication

Methamphetamine use and Cardiac Health

Supervisor

David Newcombe (09 029 36557)
Natalie Walker

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS139

Background: Methamphetamine (meth) is the second most used illicit drug in New Zealand. Maori are disproportionally affected by meth related harms. Results of animal studies and case studies in humans reveal that meth can cause significant cardiotoxicity and cardiovascular pathology. Despite this there is a paucity of studies investigating the effect of meth use on cardiovascular health in humans. Given the relatively large proportion of young people using meth, it is likely there could be a cohort of people who have severe cardiovascular disease in the community, and who may pose significant resource implications for our health system as their cardiovascular problems become evident. Therefore, there is a need to undertake studies to gain a better understanding of the type of damage caused by methamphetamine.

Aims: This study is part of a planned programme of work exploring the cardiac harms of meth. The purpose of the present study is twofold: 1) To undertake a scoping review of available literature that has examined the adverse effects of methamphetamine use on cardiac health in humans, and 2) to prepare a draft manuscript for publication based on this review.

Skills acquired: conducting scoping review, write up of a draft manuscript.

Innovative approaches to managing anxiety

Supervisors

Dr Rosie Dobson
Dr Robyn Whittaker

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS143

There is a need for innovative approaches to manage the increasing rates of anxiety for young people in Aotearoa. He Ara Oranga called for an increased focus on early intervention, particularly for mild-moderate needs. In-the-moment interventions can support individuals to recognise early signs of distress and utilise coping mechanisms to prevent or manage this distress. Wearable sensors provide a potential mechanism for providing tailored in-the-moment intervention. This project will involve a systematic review to examine how sensors can be used to support people to manage anxiety

Skills:
Attention to detail, academic writing, previous experience conducting a systematic literature search preferred.

The student will be co-author of the resultant paper.

Exploring how users engage with text message health programmes

Supervisors

Dr Rosie Dobson
Dr Robyn Whittaker

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS150

There is increasing evidence for the effectiveness of text message-based programmes in health. These automated messages can be personalised and individually tailored to increase relevance to the recipient and in turn their engagement with the programme. The main way people engage with the programmes is by replying to messages including requested responses and unexpected responses. Understanding how people engage with these programmes could be important to understanding how they are effective. The proposed project will involve analysis of system recorded data on engagement with an established maternal health text message programme including both solicited and unsolicited response messages to explore how users engage with this programme.

Skills: Attention to detail, interest in the use of technology for the delivery of health services, confident working with Microsoft Excel, preferred experience/skills in quantitative research methods or the willingness to learn the required skills.

Insights from the New Zealand national immunisation phoneline

Supervisors

Prof Nikki Turner

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS160

The Immunisation Advisory Centre aims to conduct a quantitative and qualitative analysis of anonymous data from an immunisation phone call centre between 2006 and 2020 and compare caller profiles and the nature of their inquiries. Every call to the phone line is recorded anonymously by the phone operator into a database. The summer student will classify and code calls under broad categories and then further sub-categorise within these groups. Then they will undertake descriptive statistical analysis, overall and by age-group and vaccine type. If time allows, the student will additionally analyse free text responses to identify common themes.

Ideally, applicants will:

  • have an interest in immunisation and data analysis
  • a desire to develop analytical software skills (eg, Excel, R, SAS)
  • be self-managing
  • be organised and have self-motivated structured programme and reporting work habits.

Evaluation of the cost burden of Herpes Zoster Ophthalmicus

Supervisors

Dr. Jay Meyer (022 318 4958)
Dr. Rachael Niederer

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS167

Herpes zoster ophthalmicus can result in vision loss and often necessitates multiple visits to an ophthalmologist and in some cases, surgical interventions. This project will involve tabulation and analysis of the direct costs of treating herpes zoster ophthalmicus based on treatment data from individuals seen at the Auckland District Health Board over a 10 year period. Treatment data have already been collected. The student's role will involve calculation of costs, analysis of results, and generation of a manuscript to submit for publication.

Telehealth in primary care: The pharmacy experience

Supervisors

Karen Day (027 820 1125)
Inga Hunter

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS169

Aim: During the Covid19 pandemic, telehealth (video, phone, email and social media) became the most practical way of delivering care by general practices as a result of the national lockdowns in the last 18 months. To better understand and future-proof this mode of delivering care, our research question is: What is the consumer experience of access to telehealth and how do consumers and providers perceive this mode of care delivery going forward? A national survey of general practice consumers is under way to explore the experiences.

The next step is to explore telehealth in community pharmacy. The national survey has been adjusted and will be released in the coming months.

The successful summer research student will conduct a literature review about pharmacy services and telehealth, assist in the analysis of the survey data, and assist in preparing a paper for publication.

Skills: Conduct literature review, quantitative data analysis, report writing.

LGBTQIA|Takatapui+ health curriculum in medical education

Supervisors

John Egan

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS172

Despite advances in legislative protections, LGBTQIA|Takatapui+ communities continue to experience significant health disparities. Many health professionals are well-intentioned but inadequately informed about LGBTQIA|Takatapui+ health needs; this can contribute to poor health outcomes through avoidance or delayed access to healthcare (Hollenbach et al., 2014). A recent survey of New Zealand’s two medical schools (Taylor et al., 2018) found that curriculum on LGBTQIA|Takatapui+ health in medical education is limited. Medical educators have an important role to play in addressing these issues. This student project involves reviewing the growing international literature on LGBTQIA|Takatapui+ health in medical education and intersecting literature such as medical education for Maori health equity, and speaking with key stakeholders to inform recommendations for curricular change. Support is available from the New Zealand Medical Students' Association (NZMSA). This is an opportunity to work alongside staff and students to contribute to addressing health inequities for LGBTQIA|Takatapui+ communities.

Skills/knowledge required:

  • Strong interest in and basic knowledge of LGBTQIA|Takatapui+ health
  • Interest in medical education

References:
Taylor, O., Rapsey, C., & Treharne, G. (2018). Sexuality and gender identity teaching within preclinical medical training in New Zealand: Content, attitudes and barriers. New Zealand Medical Journal, 131(1477), 35–44.

Hollenbach, A., Eckstrand, K., & Dreger, A. (Eds.). (2014). Implementing curricular and institutional climate changes to improve health care for individuals who are LGBT, gender nonconforming, or born with DSD: A resource for medical educators. Association of American Medical Colleges.