While significant health gains for both Maori and Pacific have been made there is a need to keep amassing evidence of how the system works for these populations and what urgent changes can be implemented.
The Department of Psychological Medicine in Christchurch has two major streams of research:
- Clinical Research
- Health and Development Study
First-episode psychosis in Māori
Māori and Bipolar Disorder
Kōhatu provides the focus for hauora Māori (Māori health) within the Dunedin School of Medicine and involves teaching, research, Māori strategic development (including workforce and professional development), community networking, and student relationships and support.
Professor Jo Baxter, Director, has a range of research interests including Māori mental health, Māori medical workforce development, hazardous drinking among tertiary students and health inequalities.
She has current research collaborations with the Injury Prevention Research Unit (Hazardous drinking project) and the New Zealand Mental Health Epidemiology Survey team. She is also the Theme Leader for Māori Health in the Dunedin longitudinal study, a multidisciplinary, longitudinal study of 1,037 babies born in Dunedin during 1972–3.
Māori Indigenous Health Innovation (MIHI) undertakes and supports research that explores Māori health inequities and building excellence in research evidence that contributes to Māori health advancement.
Māori mental health is a priority area within Māori health. Professor Suzanne Pitama and Associate Professor Cameron Lacey have clinical backgrounds in this field, which supports a desire to contribute to this area of research. Dr Lacey's research interests include access to health services for Māori with bipolar disorders.
Other MIHI research interests include:
- Stress cardiomyopathy and earthquakes
- Epilepsy and depression
- Broad mental health kaupapa
- Broader Maori Health kaupapa
The Ngāi Tahu Māori Health Research Unit (NTMHRU) contributes to a wide range of Māori health research projects and initiatives within the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, the University of Otago, and our communities to ensure important and beneficial outcomes for Māori.
Our people – Ko tātou
Research in mental health:
Scoping Rangatahi Primary Mental Health – A kaupapa Māori approach to identifying the gaps and need
- What rangatahi mental health needs and gaps are within community and primary mental healthcare contexts
- Primary mental health pathways and strategies that would address this need; being more responsive and effective for rangatahi Māori and their whānau
This project is underpinned by kaupapa Māori principles and theory and is supported by:
- Professor Emma Wyeth (NTMHRU)
- Associate Professor Leonie Pihama, Director of Te Kotahi Research Institute
- Dr Terryann Clarke, senior lecturer University of Auckland and Manaia Health PHO Child and Youth Friendly Cities Co-ordinator
More about this project:
Vicky Nelson presented her research at the In-house Convention
The Psychological and Physical Health and Wellbeing of New Zealand Contemporary Veterans
Professor Emma Wyeth is a Named Investigator on this project led by Professor David McBride. The project aims to describe the risk and protective factors for health and well-being of New Zealand veterans, including specifically for Māori veterans, who have served during and since the Persian Gulf War. This study will help to determine the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Multiple Symptom Illness (MSI) for this group.
Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare strives to create a Kaupapa Māori space committed to improving Māori health outcomes and eliminating inequalities through quality science and ongoing theoretical development. It takes a rights-based approach consistent with the Treaty of Waitangi, and is engaged with community through a spectrum of influence from community development, policy advocacy, research dissemination and Māori health research workforce development.
The Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health, based within the Division of Health Sciences, hosts several projects related to mental health and well-being among Pacific communities.
Ola Malohi Research Group: Mental health and well-being of Pacific youth in higher education
Faumuina Associate Professor Fa'afetai Sopoaga, has been awarded an HRC grant for three years to investigate.
There are at least 30,000 Pacific students in tertiary institutions. This research seeks to support and enhance the mental health and well-being of Pacific students in tertiary institutions. We are seeking to determine the protective and resiliency factors, as well as other factors which impact on the health and mental well-being of Pacific students. We will explore students access to services, their experiences and expectations including barriers to using health or other support services. Furthermore, we wish to determine the role of access to services on their mental health, well-being and academic progress.
Sleep and well-being among Pacific children and adolescents
Professor Rose Richards has a HRC Pacific Project Grant to investigate sleep and well-being.
Ensuring children and adolescents receive sufficient good-quality sleep is critical for their physical and emotional health. We currently know little about sleep in Pacific children and their families and how to best support good sleep / wake patterns within Pacific contexts. The overarching objective of this project is to inform the development of effective sleep interventions by capturing Pacific perspectives about sleep, health and interventions.
The first study will involve interviews with Pacific parents, exploring intergenerational changes in sleep patterns, associations between sleep and well-being and appropriateness of current sleep measurement and intervention strategies. A second study will use key informant interviews with Pacific health and educational professionals to explore the role of sleep in health / education outcomes for Pacific families and explore ways to maximise the effectiveness of sleep interventions for Pacific communities.
What happens to Pacific Island youth with mental health conditions: Evidence from the New Zealand Integrated Data Infrastructure
Lesieli Prescott, a Master's in Health Sciences candidate, is investigating.
In New Zealand there is currently an over representation of Pacific youth suffering from mental health conditions (MHCs). Despite this, little is known about the possible determinants leading to these conditions and furthermore, their association to other health outcomes. Using data extracted from the Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI), this quantitative study retrospectively researched young Pacific people aged 10-14 years old who had been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), mood disorder, anxiety, conduct disorder or substance disorder.
The aims of this research were to describe the diagnosis of these specified MHCs among Pacific youth in New Zealand; To explore the likelihood of deprivation and migration as determinants for the onset of these MHCs; And to examine whether there was an increased risk between the onset of these MHCs and the development of short-term health outcomes, measured by the occurrence of ambulatory sensitive hospitalisation (ASH) conditions.