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Clocktower.Wednesday 15 November 2017 4:14pm

Dr Cameron Lacey, senior researcher at the University of Otago, has been awarded a Health Research Council grant. Photo: supplied.

Inequities for Māori diagnosed with a psychotic disorder are set to be investigated, and ways to address unmet needs found, in a new University of Otago study.

Dr Cameron Lacey, senior lecturer at the University of Otago, has been awarded NZ$535,880 from the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) for the work.

A range of studies have identified that young Māori are disproportionately affected by psychotic disorders, including first episode psychosis (FEP), and they have worse outcomes, says Dr Lacey.

Rates of hospitalisation for Māori with schizophrenia are 3.5 times higher than the general population, he adds.

His project will use routinely-collected national data to identify detailed patterns of the health services used, both before diagnosis of FEP and post-diagnosis. These patterns will be used to develop best-practice recommendations for Māori and to generate strategies to address areas of unmet need, he says.

The funding is part of the HRC's first initiative with the Global Alliance for Chronic Diseases (GACD) – a collaboration of 14 health research funding agencies from around the world.

In line with the GACD's global call for mental health research this year, the HRC partnered with the Ministry of Health to provide up to NZ$2 million in funding for research to better support Māori and Pacific youth with mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and bipolar affective disorders.

The HRC's senior manager of Māori Health Research Investment, Mr Stacey Pene, says interest in this latest funding call, as well as the calibre of applications, bodes well for mental health research.

“It's a good indication of potential future work to be done in this area – and shows a willingness to address gaps in mental health services and areas of inequity.”

The Ministry of Health's Māori Leadership spokesperson, Alison Thom, says a key focus of the New Zealand health system is the prevention and management of chronic disease – including mental health.

“Research that helps us better manage mental health will play a part in contributing to these outcomes. We are pleased to see research proposals with a focus on such critical priorities,” she says.

For further comment:

Professor Kath McPherson
Chief Executive, Health Research Council of New Zealand
Mob +64 21 706 766

Dr Cameron Lacey, University of Otago
Pathways to First Episode Psychosis and outcomes in Māori
24 months, NZ$535,880
Telephone: +64 3 372 0400

Further media enquiries:

Aileen Coombe
Acting Communications Advisor, Health Research Council
Telephone: +64 9 303 5220

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

Electronic addresses (including email accounts, instant messaging services, or telephone accounts) published on this page are for the sole purpose of contact with the individuals concerned, in their capacity as officers, employees or students of the University of Otago, or their respective organisation. Publication of any such electronic address is not to be taken as consent to receive unsolicited commercial electronic messages by the address holder.

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