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Otago Medical School staff profiles

Dr Ruth Cunningham

PositionSenior Research Fellow
DepartmentDepartment of Public Health (Wellington)
QualificationsMBChB MPH FNZCPHM
Research summaryPublic health; mental health

Research

Ruth is a public health physician and epidemiologist working in the areas of mental health research, social epidemiology, cancer epidemiology and health services research. The main focus of her current work is mental health epidemiology and the physical health of people with experience of mental health conditions.

Ruth leads the Electronic data for Mental health research (EleMent) group: Te Raraunga Hinengaro. EleMent are a multidisciplinary research group bringing together expertise in epidemiology, public health and data science with clinical and lived experience of mental distress. The group use routinely collected electronic data from health and other sources to understand the distribution and determinants of mental health and mental distress, with a focus is on making the best use of available information to improve the mental health of New Zealanders.

Ruth is principal investigator on a study funded by the National Health Foundation to investigate cardiovascular risk prediction in people using mental health services in New Zealand. Ruth is also working on a number of projects using routine data on mental health service use in New Zealand (PRIMHD) linked to other datasets, including projects examining mental health service use in later life, and health service use for Maori with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.

Publications

Cunningham, R., Poppe, K., Peterson, D., Every-Palmer, S., Soosay, I., & Jackson, R. (2019). Prediction of cardiovascular disease risk among people with severe mental illness: A cohort study. PLoS ONE, 14(9), e0221521. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221521

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., & Sims, A. (2019). Specialist mental health care for older adults in New Zealand: An exploration of service models and routine data. New Zealand Medical Journal, 132(1489), 30-38. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Sarfati, D., Garvey, G., Robson, B., Moore, S., Cunningham, R., Withrow, D., … Bray, F. (2018). Measuring cancer in Indigenous populations. Annals of Epidemiology, 28(5), 335-342. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2018.02.005

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., & Collings, S. (2017). Like minds, like mine: Seventeen years of countering stigma and discrimination against people with experience of mental distress in New Zealand. In W. Gaebel, W. Rössler & N. Sartorius (Eds.), The stigma of mental illness: The end of the story? (pp. 263-287). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-27839-1_15

McLeod, M., King, P., Stanley, J., Lacey, C., & Cunningham, R. (2017). Ethnic disparities in the use of seclusion for adult psychiatric inpatients in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1454), 30-39. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Chapter in Book - Research

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., & Collings, S. (2017). Like minds, like mine: Seventeen years of countering stigma and discrimination against people with experience of mental distress in New Zealand. In W. Gaebel, W. Rössler & N. Sartorius (Eds.), The stigma of mental illness: The end of the story? (pp. 263-287). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-27839-1_15

Fleming, S. T., Sarfati, D., Kimmick, G., Schoenberg, N., & Cunningham, R. (2016). Impact of comorbidity on cancer screening and diagnosis. In B. Koczwara (Ed.), Cancer and chronic conditions: Addressing the problem of multimorbidity in cancer patients and survivors. (pp. 105-129). Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-981-10-1844-2

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Journal - Research Article

Cunningham, R., Poppe, K., Peterson, D., Every-Palmer, S., Soosay, I., & Jackson, R. (2019). Prediction of cardiovascular disease risk among people with severe mental illness: A cohort study. PLoS ONE, 14(9), e0221521. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0221521

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., & Sims, A. (2019). Specialist mental health care for older adults in New Zealand: An exploration of service models and routine data. New Zealand Medical Journal, 132(1489), 30-38. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

McLeod, M., King, P., Stanley, J., Lacey, C., & Cunningham, R. (2017). Ethnic disparities in the use of seclusion for adult psychiatric inpatients in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 130(1454), 30-39. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Woodhead, C., Cunningham, R., Ashworth, M., Barley, E., Stewart, R. J., & Henderson, M. J. (2016). Cervical and breast cancer screening uptake among women with serious mental illness: A data linkage study. BMC Cancer, 16, 819. doi: 10.1186/s12885-016-2842-8

Cunningham, R., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., Peterson, D., & Collings, S. (2015). Cancer survival in the context of mental illness: A national cohort study. General Hospital Psychiatry, 37, 501-506. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.06.003

Signal, V., Sarfati, D., Cunningham, R., Gurney, J., Koea, J., & Ellison-Loschmann, L. (2015). Indigenous inequities in the presentation and management of stomach cancer in New Zealand: A country with universal health care coverage. Gastric Cancer, 18(3), 571-579. doi: 10.1007/s10120-014-0410-y

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., & Collings, S. (2014). Premature mortality in adults using New Zealand psychiatric services. New Zealand Medical Journal, 127(1394). Retrieved from http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Swart, E. M., Sarfati, D., Cunningham, R., Dennett, E., Signal, V., Gurney, J., & Stanley, J. (2013). Ethnicity and rectal cancer management in New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 126(1384). Retrieved from http://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Chamberlain, J., Sarfati, D., Cunningham, R., Koea, J., Gurney, J., & Blakely, T. (2013). Incidence and management of hepatocellular carcinoma among Māori and non-Māori New Zealanders. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 37(6), 520-526. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.12108

Blakely, T., Shaw, C., Atkinson, J., Cunningham, R., & Sarfati, D. (2011). Social inequalities or inequities in cancer incidence? Repeated census-cancer cohort studies, New Zealand 1981-1986 to 2001-2004. Cancer Causes & Control, 22(9), 1307-1318. doi: 10.1007/s10552-011-9804-x

Hill, S., Sarfati, D., Blakely, T., Robson, B., Purdie, G., Chen, J., Dennett, E., Cormack, D., Cunningham, R., Dew, K., … Kawachi, I. (2010). Survival disparities in indigenous and non-indigenous New Zealanders with colon cancer: The role of patient comorbidity, treatment and health service factors. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health, 64(2), 117-123. doi: 10.1136/jech.2008.083816

Cunningham, R., Shaw, C., Blakely, T., Atkinson, J., & Sarfati, D. (2010). Ethnic and socioeconomic trends in breast cancer incidence in New Zealand. BMC Cancer, 10, 674. doi: 10.1186/1471-2407-10-674

Cunningham, R., Carter, K., Connor, J., & Fawcett, J. (2010). Does health status matter for the risk of injury? New Zealand Medical Journal, 123(1327). Retrieved from http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/123-1327/4479/content.pdf

Cunningham, R., Sarfati, D., Hill, S., Dennett, E., & O'Donnell, A. (2009). Colon cancer management in New Zealand: 1996-2003. New Zealand Medical Journal, 122(1294). Retrieved from http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/122-1294/3581/content.pdf

Cunningham, R., Sarfati, D., Hill, S., & Kenwright, D. (2008). An audit of colon cancer data on the New Zealand Cancer Registry. New Zealand Medical Journal, 121(1279). Retrieved from http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/121-1279/3191/content.pdf

Cunningham, R., MacDonald, J., McLean, M., & Shaw, C. (2007). An outbreak of infectious syphilis in Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 120(1260). Retrieved from http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/120-1260/2680/content.pdf

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Journal - Research Other

Sarfati, D., Garvey, G., Robson, B., Moore, S., Cunningham, R., Withrow, D., … Bray, F. (2018). Measuring cancer in Indigenous populations. Annals of Epidemiology, 28(5), 335-342. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2018.02.005

Shaw, C., Cunningham, R., & Sarfati, D. (2008). From screening criteria to colorectal cancer screening: What can New Zealand learn from other countries? [Viewpoint]. New Zealand Medical Journal, 121(1279). Retrieved from http://journal.nzma.org.nz/journal/121-1279/3186/content.pdf

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