Public Health

Measuring physical activity in communities – exploring the use of pedometry in public health research

Supervisor

Associate Professor Melody Smith (09 923 7388)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS007

Objective measurement of physical activity is optimal in public health research, particularly because it reduces a range of biases associated with social desirability bias, recall issues, and comprehension. While accelerometry is the preferred method of objective activity assessment, accelerometer unit cost and complexities in data treatment preclude their use in large-scale research. Pedometers offer a useful alternative to accelerometers - they provide a simple metric (steps per day) and are more cost effective than more complex alternatives. Challenges exist with pedometer data treatment, particularly around data inclusion criteria, including how many steps per day constitute a valid day, and how many days of data are needed to generate an accurate representation of an individual's activity levels.

The objectives of this summer studentship are to conduct a literature review to understand approaches to pedometer data treatment to date, and to conduct descriptive analyses of existing pedometer data from a large sample of community-dwelling children and adults.

Skills developed include:

  • Systematically searching academic databases
  • Academic writing
  • Narrative literature synthesis
  • Preparing a manuscript for publication

An exploration of children’s neighbourhood perceptions and experiences during COVID-19 Alert lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand

Supervisors

Associate Professor Melody Smith (09 923 7388 )
Dr Victoria Egli

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS008

How neighbourhoods are designed can have substantive impacts on children's health, for example through enabling or hindering physical activity and connections with nature. The Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) response to COVID-19 has, amongst other impacts, opened new ways of thinking about and using neighbourhood environments. Anecdotally, it appears this historically unique scenario has resulted in increased physical activity and play out in neighbourhood environments. While a number of studies are underway internationally to understand children's perspectives and experiences of COVID-19, no research is being conducted to understand how children have experienced their neighbourhoods during lockdown.

This research involves a short cross-sectional online convenience survey of children aged 5-13 years in NZ. Children are able to submit stories, poems, songs, drawings, or photos about the things they liked about their neighbourhood during lockdown. Creative methods of data dissemination from this research will be explored, including storyboarding, videography, and graphical illustrations. A narrative literature review on creative research dissemination methods will also be undertaken.

Skills developed  include:
  • Systematic searches of academic databases
  • Academic writing
  • Narrative literature synthesis
  • Understanding creative forms for research dissemination

An exploration of children’s neighbourhood perceptions and experiences during COVID-19 Alert lockdown in Aotearoa New Zealand

Supervisors

Associate Professor Melody Smith (09 923 7388 )
Dr Victoria Egli

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS008

How neighbourhoods are designed can have substantive impacts on children's health, for example through enabling or hindering physical activity and connections with nature. The Aotearoa New Zealand (NZ) response to COVID-19 has, amongst other impacts, opened new ways of thinking about and using neighbourhood environments. Anecdotally, it appears this historically unique scenario has resulted in increased physical activity and play out in neighbourhood environments. While a number of studies are underway internationally to understand children's perspectives and experiences of COVID-19, no research is being conducted to understand how children have experienced their neighbourhoods during lockdown.

This research involves a short cross-sectional online convenience survey of children aged 5-13 years in NZ. Children are able to submit stories, poems, songs, drawings, or photos about the things they liked about their neighbourhood during lockdown. Creative methods of data dissemination from this research will be explored, including storyboarding, videography, and graphical illustrations. A narrative literature review on creative research dissemination methods will also be undertaken.

Skills developed  include:
  • Systematic searches of academic databases
  • Academic writing
  • Narrative literature synthesis
  • Understanding creative forms for research dissemination

The Early Medical Women of New Zealand history project

Supervisors

Professor Cindy Farquhar
Dr Lucy Goodman

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS011

Today, approximately half of all New Zealand medical graduates are women. However, it wasn’t always this way. The first woman to graduate from a New Zealand medical school was Dr Emily Siedeberg in 1896, followed by Dr Margaret Cruickshank in 1897. Each year for the next twenty years there were only 1-2 women graduates.

We are collecting stories about New Zealand’s early female doctors, so that we can preserve our earliest medical history. To date we have conducted oral interviews with approximately 35 women graduates and published their biographies online. Further work is required to expand our collection.

This project will involve collating biographical information from transcribed oral interviews, libraries, and online sources into short excerpts or biographies for publication on our website. Assisting with additional oral interviews may also be required.

Ethnic Women in Politics

Supervisor

Rachel Simon-Kumar (7645)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS019

Ethnic Women in Politics (EWP) is a Marsden-funded project that investigates political participation by women of colour in New Zealand. It examines political representation of marginalised women within contemporary and historical structures of democracy.

I am looking for a student researcher to contribute to the project specifically to: (a) undertake literature reviews of specified themes related to this subject, and (b) to set up a database and collect research data for the project. The selected student will complete an annotated bibliography and/or literature mapping exercise as well as be involved in secondary data collection from diverse online sources.

Trial registration, publication and outcomes of HRC-funded trials 1999–2016

Supervisor

Professor Andrew Jull (09 923 4259)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS020

Public domain trial registration has been available since 2000 and trial registration improves the quality of information provided in publications. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors has required prospective registration of trials since 2005 and the Declaration of Helsinki has stated trials must be registered since 2008. Despite these initiatives trials remain unregistered. This study will investigate the annual rates of trial registration in completed trials from a list provided by the Health Research Council of New Zealand. In addition, the study will investigate whether the trial results have been published, and examine time-to-publication by type of trial result (positive or null findings). Trial registration will be determined by electronic searching of the ANZCTR, ClinicalTrials.gov, and Current Controlled Trials databases. Where trials have not been published, the principal investigators will be approached to complete a brief survey about the trial.

The objectives of this summer studentship will be to complete the data collection of the all trials funded by the Health Research Council since 1999, begin descriptive analyses, and draft sections of a paper for publication.

Skills developed include:

  • Database searching
  • Entering data in accord with an established data dictionary
  • Building a brief survey tool
  • Academic writing and manuscript preparation

A systematic review of the impact of ethnicity on per capita antimicrobial dispensing in developed nations

Supervisor

Assoc Professor Mark Thomas (021 412 727)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS027

Antimicrobial resistance in the bacterial pathogens that cause human disease is a major global threat to human health in the coming decades. The major driver of antimicrobial resistance in human pathogens is the consumption of antibiotics by humans. Various factors influence the per capita dispensing of antimicrobials - these include patients' age, ethnicity, socio-economic deprivation, geographical location, and various attributes of the prescriber. Higher levels of antimicrobial consumption by people of an ethnic group will inevitably result in higher levels of antimicrobial resistance in the pathogens that cause disease in that ethnic group. However, the higher incidence of some infectious diseases in some ethnic groups should result in higher levels of per capita antimicrobial dispensing for those people. I have recently published a series of articles related to this topic.

The aim of this project is to conduct a systematic review of the impact of ethnicity on the per capita level of antimicrobial dispensing in developed countries. The countries for which published data are available include NZ, Canada, Australia and the US.

We will perform a systematic review and report our findings in an article to be submitted to a peer reviewed journal.

Hope and hopefulness among New Zealand youth: The impact of hopefulness on mental health outcomes

Supervisor

Terryann Clark (021 294 8354)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS033

This project will include a literature review, secondary analysis and writing a draft academic paper utilising the Youth2000 survey series data (www.youth19.ac.nz or www.youthresearch.ac.nz) exploring the role of hopefulness and its associations with mental health outcomes for youth. Experience with R statistical software would be an advantage or willingness to learn.

The student will be a co-author of the paper and learn skills in writing academic papers, statistical analysis and working with a research team.

The role of whanaungatanga and the concept of 'chosen whānau'

Supervisor

Terryann Clark (021 294 8354)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS034

This project will involve the exploration of qualitative photo elicitation data collected as part of larger project exploring the influence of whanaungatanga. You will undertake a literature review, undertake analysis and coding of the data and develop a draft of an academic paper based on these findings. One of the themes that needs further exploration is the concept of 'chosen whanau' and how these extensions of whanaungatanga support the mental and emotional well being of rangatahi Maori. You will learn to code and develop themes in a kaupapa Maori research team. You will be a co-author on an academic paper with the research team.

We would like a Māori student who has some experience with qualitative research, kaupapa Māori methodologies, or someone who is willing to learn quickly.

Engaging with Buttabean Motivation (BBM): A qualitative study

Supervisors

Faasisila Savila (027 635 8829)
Warrick Bagg
Prof Felicity Goodyear-Smith

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS048

Buttabean Motivation (BBM) is a health programme for Pacific and Māori people. While most people lose weight when engaging with BBM, it primarily is not a weight loss programme; rather it aims to provide tools for people to live healthier lives ‘forever’, with the secondary effect of weight reduction. This project explores the lived experience and engagement of Pacific and Maori people with the BBM motivation programme. A diverse range of BBM participants, including trainers, will be interviewed about their experiences with BBM, what helped them engage and what were barriers. Their stories will undergo thematic analysis to see what common themes occur, and an understanding of how BBM has impacted on their lives in physical, mental, social, family and spiritual ways. Recruitment will stop once no new themes emerge (data saturation). This knowledge will help inform a subsequent study that will follow a cohort of BBM participants over time, looking at both the impact on their weight and also their overall quality of life.


This summer studentship would suit a Pacific student comfortable in engaging with people about their experiences of BBM.

Skills developed include:

  • Interviewing
  • Qualitative analysis (time-permitting)
  • Writing for publication

Engaging with Buttabean Motivation (BBM): what Is already known about motivational lifestyle programmes

Supervisors

Faasisila Savila (027 635 8829)
Warrick Bagg
Prof Felicity Goodyear-Smith

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS049

Buttabean Motivation (BBM) is a health programme for Pacific and Maori. While most people lose weight when engaging with BBM, it primarily is not a weight loss programme; rather it aims to provide tools for people to live healthier lives ‘forever’, with the secondary effect of weight reduction. This project will conduct a literature search on the effectiveness and sustainability of weight loss and lifestyle change programmes.

Skills developed include:
  • Literature review
  • Writing for publication

The prevalence of vitrectomy and cataract post vitrectomy in Pacific and Māori people residing in Tamaki Makau Rau, Aotearoa New Zealand

Supervisors

Dr Julie Lim
Dr Rachael Niederer
Dr Will Cunningham

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS063

Vitrectomy is a procedure in which the vitreous humour at the back of the eye is removed. While vitrectomy may help to repair damaged or scarred retina or clear the vitreous of debris, overseas studies report that vitrectomy causes rapid progression of cataracts, resulting in the need for cataract surgery in 60-95% of patients within 2 years. There is a lack of statistics regarding the numbers of vitrectomy procedures performed each year in NZ, the frequency in which patients develop cataracts post-vitrectomy, whether Pacific and Maori populations experience disproportionately higher rates of vitrectomy and if so whether this increase results in accelerated cataract formation. In this study, we will conduct a retrospective clinical record review of patients across all age groups who underwent a vitrectomy procedure at the Greenlane Clinical Centre within the last ten years. We will focus our study towards identifying Pacific and Maori persons undergoing vitrectomy and the occurrence of cataract post vitrectomy in this population. This study will be important in determining whether Pacific and Maori are more at risk at developing cataract post vitrectomy. If so, this drives the need for research to better understand the molecular mechanisms that contribute to cataracts post vitrectomy.

Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy (SUDI): 2018–2020

Supervisor

John Thompson (ext 86433)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS081

Background

Despite a major reduction in overall infant mortality, sudden unexpected death in infancy (SUDI) continues to be of concern in New Zealand, as the rate is high by international standards, and is even higher in indigenous Maori.

A three-year (1 March 2012–28 February 2015) nationwide case-control study was conducted in New Zealand. The combination of maternal smoking in pregnancy and bed sharing with an infant was found to be extremely hazardous for infants.

Aims
All deaths from SUDI are subject to a coronial investigation. The aim is to tabulate the characteristics of SUDI deaths that have occurred from 2018, and compare them with deaths that occurred in 2012-2015.

Skills developed include:

  • Literature review
  • Data collection
  • Setting up and entering data
  • Simple descriptive statistics
  • Report writing

No specific prior skills are required, but knowledge of Excel would be helpful.

Weight Gain and Diet During Pregnancy: Analysis of guidelines across the Asia-Pacific Region

Supervisors

Dr Jacquie Bay (09 923 4282)
Dr Tomoko Aoyama

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS085

Low birthweight has long-lasting negative consequences on an individual’s health. Disparities in birthweight outcomes by ethnicity have been observed globally in both high and low income countries. These disparities largely depend on differences in maternal anthropometrics and gestational weight gain. We are working to identify social, economic and cultural factors that may be associated with variation in gestational weight gain observed in different contexts within the Asia-Pacific region.

The aim of this project is to identify differences in country-specific guidelines on weight gain and diet during pregnancy across the Asia-Pacific region. The research will take the form of a review and descriptive analyses of current guidelines for gestational weight gain and dietary guidelines for pregnant women.

Identifying how guidelines differ across countries will help understand social backgrounds underlying actual differences in gestational weight gain by ethnicity, which can lead to improving birth outcomes for all ethnicities.
The work from this studentship will contribute to a peer-reviewed journal publication.

Skills developed include:

  • Systematic searches of academic databases
  • Academic writing
  • Analyses of guidelines

Photovoice and Student Voice: A review of the possibilities of photovoice to engage adolescents in critical thinking on issues pertaining to their wellbeing

Supervisors

Dr Jacquie Bay (09 923 4282)
Erica D'Souza
Siobhan Tu'akoi

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS086

This project requires the student to undertake a systematic literature review exploring the use of photovoice as a participatory methodology to engage adolescents and explore their perspectives on health and wellbeing. Special attention to be paid to behaviour change outcomes (as a result of the photovoice process).

The student will be co-author of the resultant paper and will learn skills in undertaking systematic reviews, writing academic papers and working with a research team.

Skills developed include:

  • Systematic searches of academic databases
  • Academic writing
  • Academic team work

Alcohol use during the COVID-19 lockdown: Findings from the Covid Kai Survey

Supervisors

Sarah Gerritsen (022 050 1700)
Rajshri Roy

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS091

Alcohol use is a public health problem in New Zealand with one in four adults drinking hazardously. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in “lockdown”, with unprecedented numbers of people staying home, limiting their movement and economic activity. New Zealanders were asked to stay at home, leaving their 'bubble' only if essential workers or to exercise or make trips for essential supplies of food and medicines only. All restaurants, cafes and bars were closed which may have reduced the opportunity for social drinking. However, sales of alcohol increased over the period, and one in seven drinkers bought alcohol online.

During lockdown alert levels 4 and 3, the COVID Kai Survey collected information from over 3,000 New Zealanders, as part of a multi-country study. Some of the data could be used to explore changes in alcohol intake during this period and differences for households with additional stress and financial difficulties. This summer project would form the basis of a basis for a journal article for which the student would be a co-author. The tasks include writing a brief literature review, descriptive analyses, and multivariable regression, with support from the Covid Kai research team. Basic statistical skills and an interest in public health essential.

The effectiveness of a brief intervention for caffeine reduction

Supervisor

Simone Rodda (09 923 6573, 021 359 247)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS104

The Change Strategies Project (www.changestrategies.ac.nz) is seeking a summer student. This project examines lifestyle addictions like sugar, alcohol, gambling, caffeine and internet use and helps people to reduce their consumption. This summer project will focus on testing the effectiveness of a brief intervention for caffeine reduction. The student will provide support to the project including the development and evaluation of the online programme and provision of goal coaching to participants.

Skills required:

  • Attention to detail
  • Writing for communities (i.e., simple language)
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people

We are seeking a student with an interest in the study of addictions at post-graduate level.

Māori and Pacific experiences of an online intervention for gambling

Supervisor

Simone Rodda (09 923 6573, 021 359 247)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS106

Project: The Change Strategies Project (www.changestrategies.ac.nz) is seeking a summer student. This project examines lifestyle addictions like sugar, alcohol, gambling, caffeine and internet use and helps people to reduce their consumption. This project involves interviews with Maori and Pacific people who have accessed a new treatment programme for gambling problems. It will also involve undertaking a thematic analysis and report preparation.

Skills required:

  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people
  • Demonstrated knowledge of Māori or Pacific experiences of social inequality
  • Interest in or experience with thematic analysis

The prevalence and design of 'health information' on alcoholic beverages sold in New Zealand

Supervisors

Assoc Professor Natalie Walker
Professor Cliona Ni Mhurchu (National Institute for Health Innovation)
Dr Bodo Lang (Marketing Department)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS107

We will examine the prevalence and design elements of ‘health information’ (e.g. health warning labels) shown on beers, wines, spirits and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages sold in NZ supermarkets and off-licence alcohol retailers (both physical and online outlets, including alcohol producers selling direct to consumers).

The following questions will be explored:

  1. How many products display health information on-pack, or in advertising co-located with the product?
  2. If health information is present:
  • What form does it take, what health topic is the focus, and where is the information located on the product?
  • Does it differ between retailer type (e.g. supermarkets vs off-licenses; NZ-owned vs foreign-owned retailer)?
  • How visible is it when consumers shop online compared to in-store shopping?
  • Does health information shown online, match that available in-store?

Two students (one based at NIHI and one within the Department of Marketing) will work on this project, opening up the possibility to code each product independently to calculate inter-rater reliability. A journal article is an anticipated output, for which, depending on their performance during the Summer, both students could become co-authors. Tasks include data collection, data entry into an excel database, drafting the journal publication and undertaking descriptive analyses, with oversight from the research team.

The effectiveness of a brief intervention for social media reduction

Supervisor

Simone Rodda (09 923 6573, 021 359 247)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS108

The Change Strategies Project (www.changestrategies.ac.nz) is seeking a summer student. This project examines lifestyle addictions like sugar, alcohol, gambling, caffeine and internet use and helps people to reduce their consumption. This project examines the effectiveness of a brief intervention for social media reduction. The successful applicant will be involved in participant management, the provision of goal coaching and conducting follow-up evaluations.

Skills required: Attention to detail, ability to communicate effectively with a wide range of people, psychology background, an interest in health interventions for reducing lifestyle issues.

Develop a tool to visually demonstrate the geographic density of outdoor advertising in Auckland

Supervisors

Dr Sally Mackay
Dr Sarah Gerritsen

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS116

Unhealthy diets are heavily influenced by unhealthy, obesogenic environments. A survey of the New Zealand food environment was conducted by the University of Auckland INFORMAS team in 2017. One of the survey modules investigated the exposure to children of unhealthy food marketing in different mediums, including outdoor advertising. An extensive database exists of food marketing in the Auckland region, however this data needs to be translated to be useful for policymakers. A presentation tool will be developed using the extensive INFORMAS NZ dataset for outdoor advertising around schools.

Skills developed include:

  • Data analysis
  • Presentation of data
  • Translating information for policymakers

An online survey for New Zealand Niue Tertiary Students Health Survey

Supervisors

Assoc Professor Vili Nosa (09 373 7599 ext 86906)
Dr John Sluyter

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS120

This project is an online survey for New Zealand Niue Tertiary students heath profile.

Objectives: To examine the health issues for New Zealand Niue Tertiary Students.

Skills developed include:

  • Analysing the online survey results
  • Searching data bases and research articles
  • Analysing relevant literature
  • Report writing
  • Developing a peer reviewed article for publication

“I’m a friendly Chatbot. What’s your name?” What do young people think of chatbot interventions for mental health and wellbeing

Supervisors

Dr Karolina Stasiak (021 385 677)
Dr Sarah Hopkins

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS127

We have developed a number of Chatbots (conversational agents) designed to teach evidence-based mental health and stress reduction skills (e.g. tiny.cc/aroha). We have been trialling them with adolescents and young adults in various settings. We are interested to better understand participants’ views and experiences of interacting with the chatbots, e.g. what style of interaction is preferred, whether universal delivery is acceptable and what determines adherence. We are seeking a student to conduct a mixed method study, including in-depth qualitative interviews (conducted by phone/What’s App etc) and/or an online questionnaire to gain insights into Chatbot users’ experiences and views. The impact of this study will be significant as it will help us inform future design of the Chatbots and how to implement them into the digital wellbeing landscape.

Skills required:

We're looking for a student who has excellent oral and written communication skills and a keen interest in young people and mental health. Enthusiasm for digital technology is a must.

Interventions for Children with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders

Supervisors

Samantha Marsh (021 400 904)
Jessica McCormack

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS128

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) is a diagnostic term that describes the neurological and physical effects of prenatal exposure to alcohol. FASD is a lifelong disability and without proper support individuals with FASD face challenges across multiple domains, including learning and memory, executive function, attention, communication, and social skills. The proposed project involves conducting a systematic review to identify effective non-pharmacological interventions for children with FASD.

Skills required: attention to detail, previous experience conducting a systematic literature search preferred.

Scoping review of local food systems initiatives in New Zealand

Supervisors

Dr Sally Mackay (021 0242 6760)
Dr Leanne Young

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS129

There is a call to improve the local food system in New Zealand, highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic. There are a number of organisations and initiatives across sectors to engage with local governments, communities, local businesses and individuals to support sustainable local food systems. However, this sector is fragmented and there is no formal structure. This research would scope the current activities and organisations involved in improving the local food system, to better inform future planning, identify best practice and opportunities for support. Information would be gathered through the grey literature, websites and direct contact with key players.

This would suit a student interested in food systems.

The impact of Covid-19 on intergenerational social contact among people over 70

Supervisors

Professor Merryn Gott (021 246 2197)
Tessa Morgan
Dr Lisa Williams

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS134

The Covid-19 lockdown had particular implications for people over 70 who were identified as most vulnerable to the virus and singled out as needing to take special precautions. We received funding from the Auckland Medical Research Foundation to explore older people's experiences during this time. One phase of the project involves people over 70 (and Māori and Pacific people over 60) writing letters about their experiences of Lockdown. At the time of writing we have over 160 letters and are anticipating many more.

We are seeking a summer student to explore the issue of inter-generational social contact during lockdown as described in the letters. Letters will be analysed using thematic analysis to address the following objectives:

  1. What was the impact of lockdown upon the extent of inter-generational contact people over 70 had during lockdown?
  2. Did the nature of that contact change?
  3. What was the role of technology in facilitating contact?
  4. Has lockdown had any long term impacts upon inter-generational contact for people over 70?

We have permission to recontact letter writers to further explore aspects of their recorded experiences. The final part of the project will involve contacting a sample of letter writers to discuss findings. This will ensure older people are included at every stage of the project.

We are seeking a student with good analytic and inter-personal skills and a commitment to social justice, particularly in relation to older people. The project is part of the programme of research being undertaken by the bicultural Te Arai Palliative Care and End of Life Research Group: http://www.tearairesearchgroup.com

Exploring discrimination for Pacific people in the health system

Supervisors

Fiona Langridge (021 2424 4362)
Fuafiva Fa’alau

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS139

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.

Experiences of discrimination are known to be associated with poor health outcomes. The aim of this project is to explore experiences of discrimination for Pasifika within the health system, and how these experiences relate to child health outcomes within the context of the Growing Up in New Zealand study. This will be achieved through quantitative analysis of questionnaire data collected during mother’s pregnancy up to when the children were eight years old.

This project will provide an opportunity for a student interested in population health or child development to learn independent research skills, including literature review, data analysis, presentation of results, and communication of research findings. Skills required are enthusiasm and initiative, an ability to communicate, and independence, combined with a genuine interest in research and a demonstrated ability to work in a team environment.

Hauora (health and wellbeing) Māori measures for rangatahi and whānau

Supervisors

Tania Cargo
Karolina Stasiak
Sarah Hopkins
Sarah Hetrick

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS139

This project will involve an exploration of hauora (health and wellbeing) Māori measures for rangatahi and whānau. The student will undertake a literature review and develop a draft of an academic paper based on these findings. A key element will be exploring hauora from within a kuapapa Maori environment, including Māori developmental processes such as Tuakana Teina, Potiki Matamua etc and the impact these roles may have on rangatahi development. The student will explore and develop themes within a kaupapa Māori research framework and co-author an academic paper.

This would suit a Māori student who has experience and/or knowledge of kaupapa Māori methodologies and who is wanting to pursue experience within a Māori mental health environment

Exploring views of rangatahi on types of images of hauora in the digital media

Supervisors

Tania Cargo
Karolina Stasiak
Sarah Hopkins
Sarah Hetrick

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS147

This project will involve an exploration of the types of images of hauora (health and wellbeing) that are engaging for rangatahi, in particular those images that are available via digital media. The student will undertake qualitative interviews with Māori rangatahi exploring the types of visual images which they associate with hauora from a Māori rangatahi perspective. They will then undertake analysis and coding of the data through a kaupapa Māori lens and develop a draft of an academic paper based on these findings.

This would suit a Māori student who has experience and/or knowledge of kaupapa Māori methodologies and who is wanting to pursue experience within a Māori digital mental health environment.

Quantification of pharmaceutical waste: A pilot study

Supervisors

Sara Hanning (ext 85386)
Darren Svirskis
Saeid Baroutian

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS151

Pharmaceutical waste is generated through both manufacture and disposal processes and has a significant negative environmental impact. In New Zealand, individuals are encouraged to return unwanted medicines to their pharmacy. From here, they are taken by contractors, autoclaved and disposed of at landfill sites. The disposal of pharmaceutical waste in landfills can lead to contamination of drinking, surface and ground water. To address this, collaborators at the Faculty of Engineering and Middlemore Hospital are developing a treatment process that can deconstruct waste and eliminate toxic byproducts from entering the environment. This summer project aims to identify current waste handling practices and quantify pharmaceutical waste in selected hospitals and pharmacies in the Auckland region. The findings from this project will subsequently be used to prioritise pharmaceutical waste to validate using the newly developed deconstruction technology.

This project is suitable for a pharmacy student.

Skills developed include:

  • Literature review
  • Interdisciplinary collaboration
  • Research design
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Academic writing and presentation

Please note that the student stipend for this project is being provided by the NZ Pharmacy Education and Research Foundation (NZPERF) therefore only current part II and III BPharm students are eligible to apply.

Your COVID-19 Risk: determinants of COVID-19 risk behaviours

Supervisors

Amy Chan
Kebede Beyene
Jeff Harrison

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS154

In the absence of a vaccine or other proven medical treatment for COVID-19, the only way to limit the spread and contain the effects of COVID-19 depends on the behaviours of individuals. Globally, the progress of the pandemic is still uncertain and the only way to minimise the impact of COVID-19 in NZ is by ensuring individuals adhere to the government public health measures, such as social distancing and hand hygiene recommendations. To support these efforts, we along with a team of global scientists have created a COVID-19 risk assessment and modification tool that can assess a person’s risk of spreading and contracting the virus that causes COVID-19. Our tool identifies the exact behaviours of individuals that put them at risk of COVID-19, and provides information to reduce this risk. It gives individuals an estimate of their risk of spreading or contracting the coronavirus, and information to help reduce that risk. The tool also gathers information on factors that influence risk behaviour.

To date, we have had over 16,000 New Zealander use the tool. This project analyses this dataset and aims to identify factors that drive an individual’s risk behaviours, which can be used to inform recommendations to minimise COVID-19 spread and improve public information about COVID-19 risk. Our data will contribute to the global research effort as the factors we identify about risk behaviours can be used to inform the actions of other countries. We will also be able to compare data nationally and internationally to see if there are differences in the risk behaviours of individuals in different countries, and the factors which drive these risks.

Skills developed include:

  • Literature review
  • Critical appraisal 

What do young people want in a physical activity promotion chatbot for youth wellbeing?

Supervisors

Sarah Hopkins (027 278 6719)
Karolina Stasiak
Tania Cargo
Sarah Hetrick

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS155

We have developed a range of digital health interventions for young people and have a programme of research to investigate whether rangatahi like them, use them, and whether they are effective at improving wellbeing. We are now developing a chatbot (conversational agent) to help users (aged 11-19) to identify and persist with physical activity, an approach consistent with the Whare Tapa Wha model facilitating a holistic view of wellbeing.

We would like a student to collect data from young people, via a survey and/or interviews, so that we can understand more about their views with regard to the content, structure and key interactions within the first prototype of the Chatbot. This project will also involve some synthesis of relevant information from other sources, e.g. literature search, guidelines, reports. This will help us to inform future design of the chatbot and will be a significant contribution to our work and the international literature. We would value a student who has experience, and feels comfortable, working with young people – particularly with priority to Maori rangatahi and Pasifika young people. An interest in youth physical activity and/or mental health, and an enthusiasm for digital technology is highly welcome.

Understanding Longitudinal Trajectories and Risks Associated with Birthweight: Relationships from Infancy Through to Early-Adulthood (ULTRABRITE)

Supervisor

Dr Rebecca Slykerman (09 923 1132)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS160

The Auckland Birthweight Collaborative Study enrolled mothers and babies between 1995 and 1997 to examine whether being born small for gestational age had negative consequences for growth and development. Children in the study were assessed at ages 1, 3.5, 7, 11 & 16 years. Approximately 650 of these participants were last assessed when they were 16 years. They are now young adults in their early to mid-20’s and we would like to contact them and conduct a short online survey with them.

The project involves using existing contact details and next of kin details to trace and contact participants to send them a short survey about their current lifestyle and psychological wellbeing. There will also be the opportunity to analyse this data and look at how it relates to previously collected data from these participants when they were younger.
This is an excellent opportunity to get experience in conducting research including data collection, analysis and understanding how longitudinal studies work. The study group includes researchers from different disciplines including biostatistics, paediatrics, psychology, nutrition and endocrinology.

Skills required: Excellent communication skills particularly on the phone, ability to use social media platforms to trace people, persistence, good time management

The effects of housing and home environment on Pasifika child health in the pre-school and primary school age group

Supervisors

Emma Marks
Malakai ‘Ofanoa

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS173

The project aims to investigate the link between home environment and child health given the rapidly changing housing market in New Zealand. This project specifically aims to compare the impacts of housing quality and type on health outcomes of Pasifika children between the pre-school and primary school period within the context of the Growing Up in New Zealand study. Key indicators to be included will be types of housing tenure among Pasifika families, standard of housing quality and key child health outcomes, such as rates of infection and hospital admissions. This research will also review the potential effects changes to housing policy i.e. the Residential Tenancies Amendment Act, 2016, may have had on Pasifika families in rental accommodation and any subsequent effects on child health outcomes.

Skills developed:

This project will provide an opportunity for a student interested in child health and development to be involved in research at in a large, diverse longitudinal cohort study and learn independent research skills, including literature review, statistical analysis, presentation of results, and communication of research findings.

The project would most suit a third-year student. Second year students may also be considered. Skills required are enthusiasm and initiative, ability to work in a large team environment, an ability to communicate, and independence, combined with a genuine interest in child health research for a vulnerable sector of our community.

Sharing research with rangatahi Maori communities - R4Aotearoa

Supervisor

Sarah-Jane Paine

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS190

“R4Aotearoa” is a co-design, mixed-methods research project investigating experiences of racism for rangatahi Maori in New Zealand. Stage 1 involved quantitative analysis of national survey data investigating the prevalence of racism amongst young people and impacts for health and wellbeing. The student will work alongside an experienced research team to develop resources to share quantitative evidence with rangatahi communities. The student will develop a range of transferable skills that would be useful in multiple fields of research, including literature review, research communication and experience in the co-design process. The student will also learn how to develop a brief project plan, present information during team meetings and work independently within a team environment. The project is based at the Grafton campus, although remote work options are available. The student will also have opportunities to meet and engage with colleagues from Te Kupenga Hauora Maori, University of Otago Wellington and Australian National University. Knowledge and/or experience in Maori health, te reo and tikanga Maori or rangatahi health/wellbeing would be advantageous. The project will start late-Nov/early-Dec 2020.

COVID and Medical Students' Wellbeing and Education Survey

Supervisors

Gary Cheung (021 332 823)
Marcus Henning
Nicholas Hoeh
Frederick Sundram
Lillian Ng

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS198

Given the stand-down period issued by the University of Auckland for all Phase 1 and 2 students in light of COVID-19 restrictions and the feedback given by students via email and social media communications, we will collaborate with the NZ Medical Students’ Association (NZMSA) on the analysis and follow-up of quantitative research regarding implications of COVID-19 on their academic studies, clinical learning and wellbeing as medical students. The intention will be to collect this data at multiple different points in time, to assess the follow-up of the University and cohort sites to the implications. This will be carried out using validated surveys including the WHO-Quality of Life questionnaire.

In conducting this research, we hope to generate accurate and informed data of these ongoing impacts, and importantly, highlight vulnerable groups that are most affected. This will enable both student organisations and universities alike to respond appropriately. Furthermore, an overall retrospective analysis at the completion of the study could inform planning and future response should NZ return to Levels 3 or 4, or other situations that create similar disruption to medical education.


Skills developed include:

  • Data collection
  • Statistical analysis
  • Report writing 
  • Work with NZMSA in future advocacy

Evidence-based approaches to investigation and treatment of persistent symptoms following a mild traumatic brain injury

Supervisor

Dr Braden Te Ao (09 923 5046)

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS207

Mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) can no longer be thought of as a ‘low cost’ or ‘short- term’ problem. Associated costs account for a disproportionate cost burden at the macro level, with projected lifetime costs for 2020 more than $89 million. Recent evidence now consistently reveals that nearly half of people who experience a mild TBI report long-term difficulties one year later.

Project description 1: This project will involve conducting a systematic literature review of current pathways of health services utilisation for people with mild traumatic brain injury.

Project description 2: This project will involve conducting a systematic review of international literature for the clinical evidence of concussion services for people with mild traumatic brain injury.

The student will conduct a systematic literature review and develop a paper for publication. The project will suit someone with an interest in learning to conduct a literature review, plus and interested in injury prevention, primary care, and particularly in improving the health of socially disadvantaged populations.

Skills developed include:
  • Systematic searches of academic databases
  • Academic writing
  • Narrative literature synthesis
  • Preparation of a manuscript for publication

Evidence in health interventions during the acute stages of the Covid-19 pandemic: international comparisons

Supervisors

Peter Gluckman (021 775 568)
Kristiann Allen
Felicia Low
Tatjana Buklijas

Discipline

Public Health

Project code: MHS223

In the acute phase of the Covid-19 pandemic, health interventions targeted at restricting and slowing down the spread of the virus were introduced by jurisdictions around the world. However these were introduced at different moments in pandemic timeline and at different levels of stringency. Our research team runs a policy tracker database containing thousands of entries collated by contributors from over 100 countries. It contains rich data on types of health interventions and the reasons and evidence base for their introduction. Combined with quantitative data from other sources, it offers an opportunity to understand what kinds of interventions applied at what points in the pandemic were crucial to a successful response.

The summer studentship offers an opportunity for a student interested in global health, health policy, public health, or infectious diseases, to undertake data analysis alongside the research team working on the database. We especially welcome those with interest in mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) research.