Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

Professor Louise Signal, Department of Public Health

Louise signal photo

PhD, Dip Com Psych

Head of Department and Director of HePPRU

Teaches PUBH713 Society, Health & Health Promotion, PUBH744 Healthy Public Policy

Contact details 

Tel +64 4 385 5541 ext 6477
Email louise.signal@otago.ac.nz

Research interests and activities 

Professor Louise Signal is currently Head of the Department of Public Health. Louise is also a Director of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit at the University of Otago, Wellington as well as Co-Director of Te Rōpū Rangahau ō Te Kāhui Matepukupuku: Cancer Society Research Collaboration. Louise is a social scientist with a PhD in Community Health from the University of Toronto. She has been a member of the Department of Public Health for over 20 years and has previous experience working at central and local government in health promotion and community development.

Professor Signal’s research focuses on identifying and addressing environmental determinants of health. Her research has a strong focus on equity for Māori, Pacific, and low-income communities. Key research areas include the politics of health and health equity, obesity prevention, and addressing harm from alcohol and sun exposure. Her research utilises qualitative research methods, policy research and mixed method research design. Professor Signal was principal investigator on an innovative research project that studied the world children live in – Kids’ Cam, which used automated cameras to record children’s worlds.

^ Top of page

Publications

Teng, A., Puloka, V., Signal, L., & Wilson, N. (2021). Pacific countries lead the way on sugary drinks taxes: Lessons for New Zealand. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1543), 137-140. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Gage, R., Leung, W., Gurtner, M., Reeder, A. I., McNoe, B. M., & Signal, L. (2021). Generating political priority for skin cancer primary prevention: A case study from Aotearoa New Zealand. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/hpja.545

Gage, R., Gurtner, M., Signal, L., Keall, M., Smith, M., McKerchar, C., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2021). Children's journey to and from school: An analysis of travel modes, environments and eating behaviours using wearable cameras. Proceedings of the International Society of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity Annual Meeting (ISBNPA XChange): Thinking Independently Together: Let's Dance Around the World. (pp. 50). International Society of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity. Retrieved from https://isbnpa2021.venuewest.com

Choi, K., Giridharan, N., Cartmell, A., Lum, D., Signal, L., Puloka, V., Crossin, R., Gray, L., Davies, C., Baker, M., & Kvalsvig, A. (2021). Life during lockdown: A qualitative study of low-income New Zealanders' experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1538), 52-67. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Teng, A., Snowdon, W., Tin, S. T. W., Genç, M., Na'ati, E., Puloka, V., Signal, L., & Wilson, N. (2021). Progress in the Pacific on sugar‐sweetened beverage taxes: A systematic review of policy changes from 2000 to 2019. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/1753-6405.13123

Signal, L., Martin, J., Cram, F., & Robson, B. (2008). The Health Equity Assessment Tool: A user's guide. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health, 44p.

Authored Book - Research

Signal, L., & Ratima, M. (Eds.). (2015). Promoting health in Aotearoa New Zealand. Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press, 312p.

Edited Book - Research

Signal, L., Egan, R., & Cook, L. (Eds.). (2009). Reviews of health promotion practice in Aotearoa New Zealand 2007-2008. Auckland, New Zealand: Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand & Health Promotion and Policy Unit, University of Otago, 138p.

Edited Book - Research

Dew, K., Cunningham, C., Davies, C., Tavite, H., Stairmand, J., Sarfati, D., & Signal, L. (2017). Māori-centered research and ethnomethodology: Cancer inequities and research by and for indigenous peoples. In SAGE research methods: Cases part 2. SAGE. doi: 10.4135/9781526409218

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L., & Ratima, M. (2015). Critical reflections and future challenges. In L. Signal & M. Ratima (Eds.), Promoting health in Aotearoa New Zealand. (pp. 285-296). Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L., & Ratima, M. (2015). Introduction. In L. Signal & M. Ratima (Eds.), Promoting health in Aotearoa New Zealand. (pp. 7-18). Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L., Jenkin, G., Fougere, G., & Poata-Smith, E. (2015). The politics of health promotion. In L. Signal & M. Ratima (Eds.), Promoting health in Aotearoa New Zealand. (pp. 162-187). Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L., Ratima, M., & Raeburn, J. (2015). The origins of health promotion. In L. Signal & M. Ratima (Eds.), Promoting health in Aotearoa New Zealand. (pp. 19-41). Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L., Soeberg, M., & Quigley, R. (2013). Health impact assessment in local government: A New Zealand case study. In M. O'Mullane (Ed.), Integrating health impact assessment with the policy process: Lessons and experiences from around the world. (pp. 109-118). Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/med/9780199639960.003.0010

Chapter in Book - Research

Walton, M., & Signal, L. (2010). Childhood obesity and the food environment. In J. Pearce & K. Witten (Eds.), Geographies of obesity: Environmental understandings of the obesity epidemic. (pp. 111-127). Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L., & Egan, R. (2009). Reflections on best practice in health promotion in Aotearoa New Zealand. In L. Signal, R. Egan & L. Cook (Eds.), Reviews of health promotion practice in Aotearoa New Zealand 2007-2008. (pp. 129-135). Auckland, New Zealand: Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand & Health Promotion and Policy Unit, University of Otago.

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L., Cook, L., & Egan, R. (2009). Introducing reviews of health promotion practice. In L. Signal, R. Egan & L. Cook (Eds.), Reviews of health promotion practice in Aotearoa New Zealand 2007-2008. (pp. 1-3). Auckland, New Zealand: Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand & Health Promotion and Policy Unit, University of Otago.

Chapter in Book - Research

Signal, L. (2008). Tools for health equity. In K. Dew & A. Matheson (Eds.), Understanding health inequalities in Aotearoa New Zealand. (pp. 173-184). Dunedin, New Zealand: Otago University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Hearn, S., Martin, H., Signal, L., & Wise, M. (2005). Health promotion in Australia and New Zealand: The struggle for equity. In A. Scriven & S. Garman (Eds.), Promoting Health: Global perspectives. (pp. 239-254). Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan.

Chapter in Book - Research

Chan, V., Davies, A., Wellard-Cole, L., Lu, S., Ng, H., Tsoi, L., … Signal, L., … Allman-Farinelli, M. (2021). Using wearable cameras to assess foods and beverages omitted in 24 hour dietary recalls and a text entry food record app. Nutrients, 13(6), 1806. doi: 10.3390/nu13061806

Journal - Research Article

Choi, K., Giridharan, N., Cartmell, A., Lum, D., Signal, L., Puloka, V., Crossin, R., Gray, L., Davies, C., Baker, M., & Kvalsvig, A. (2021). Life during lockdown: A qualitative study of low-income New Zealanders' experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1538), 52-67. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Article

Davies, A., Chan, V., Bauman, A., Signal, L., Hosking, C., Gemming, L., & Allman-Farinelli, M. (2021). Using wearable cameras to monitor eating and drinking behaviours during transport journeys. European Journal of Nutrition, 60, 1875-1885. doi: 10.1007/s00394-020-02380-4

Journal - Research Article

Freeman, N., Gage, R., Chambers, T., Blaschke, P., Cook, H., Stanley, J., Pearson, A., Smith, M., Barr, M., & Signal, L. (2021). Where do the children play? An objective analysis of children's use of green space. Health Promotion International, 36, 846-853. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daaa106

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., Girling-Butcher, M., Joe, E., Smith, M., Ni Mhurchu, C., McKerchar, C., Puloka, V., McLean, R., & Signal, L. (2021). The frequency and context of snacking among children: An objective analysis using wearable cameras. Nutrients, 13, 103. doi: 10.3390/nu13010103

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., Leung, W., Gurtner, M., Reeder, A. I., McNoe, B. M., & Signal, L. (2021). Generating political priority for skin cancer primary prevention: A case study from Aotearoa New Zealand. Health Promotion Journal of Australia. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1002/hpja.545

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., Lacey, C., Abel, G., & Signal, L. (2021). Ensuring the right to food for indigenous children: A case study of stakeholder perspectives on policy options to ensure the rights of tamariki Māori to healthy food. International Journal for Equity in Health, 20, 67. doi: 10.1186/s12939-021-01407-4

Journal - Research Article

Teng, A. M., Genç, M., Herman, J., Signal, L., Areai, D., & Wilson, N. (2021). Impact of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes on price, import and sale volumes in an island nation: Interrupted time series analysis. Public Health Nutrition. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/s1368980021000185

Journal - Research Article

Teng, A., Buffière, B., Genç, M., Latavao, T., Puloka, V., Signal, L., & Wilson, N. (2021). Equity of expenditure changes associated with a sweetened-beverage tax in Tonga: Repeated cross-sectional household surveys. BMC Public Health, 21, 149. doi: 10.1186/s12889-020-10139-z

Journal - Research Article

Davies, A., Allman-Farinelli, M., Owen, K., Signal, L., Hosking, C., Wang, L., & Bauman, A. (2020). Feasibility study comparing physical activity classifications from accelerometers with wearable camera data. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 17, 9323. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17249323

Journal - Research Article

Liu, W., Barr, M., Pearson, A. L., Chambers, T., Pfeiffer, K. A., Smith, M., & Signal, L. (2020). Space-time analysis of unhealthy food advertising: New Zealand children's exposure and health policy options. Health Promotion International, 35, 812-820. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daz083

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., King, P., Lacey, C., Abel, G., & Signal, L. (2020). Rights-based approaches to improving food availability for tamariki Māori: A narrative literature review and theory-based synthesis. MAI Journal, 9(3), 237-248. doi: 10.20507/MAIJournal.2020.9.3.6

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., Smith, M., Gage, R., Williman, J., Abel, G., Lacey, C., Ni Mhurchu, C., & Signal, L. (2020). Kids in a candy store: An objective analysis of children's interactions with food in convenience stores. Nutrients, 12(7), 2143. doi: 10.3390/nu12072143

Journal - Research Article

McKerchar, C., Smith, M., Stanley, J., Barr, M., Chambers, T., Abel, G., Lacey, C., Gage, R., … Signal, L. (2020). Food store environment examination: FoodSee: A new method to study the food store environment using wearable cameras. Global Health Promotion, 27(3), 73-81. doi: 10.1177/1757975919859575

Journal - Research Article

Signal, L. N., Edwards, R., Gage, R., Jackson, N., McKerchar, C., & Sarfati, D. (2020). The state of cancer prevention in Aotearoa New Zealand: Slow progress requires political leadership and investment for health and equity. Journal of Cancer Policy, 23, 100212. doi: 10.1016/j.jcpo.2019.100212

Journal - Research Article

Signal, V., Jackson, C., Signal, L., Hardie, C., Holst, K., McLaughlin, M., Steele, C., & Sarfati, D. (2020). Improving management of comorbidity in patients with colorectal cancer using comprehensive medical assessment: A pilot study. BMC Cancer, 20, 50. doi: 10.1186/s12885-020-6526-z

Journal - Research Article

Smith, M., Chambers, T., Abbott, M., & Signal, L. (2020). High stakes: Children’s exposure to gambling and gambling marketing using wearable cameras. International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, 18, 1025-1047. doi: 10.1007/s11469-019-00103-3

Journal - Research Article

Teariki, M. A., Tiatia, R., O'Sullivan, K., Puloka, V., Signal, L., Shearer, I., & Howden-Chapman, P. (2020). Beyond home: Exploring energy poverty among youth in four diverse Pacific island states. Energy Research & Social Science, 70, 101638. doi: 10.1016/j.erss.2020.101638

Journal - Research Article

Teng, A., Puloka, V., Genç, M., Filimoehala, O., Latu, C., Lolomana'ia, M., … Signal, L., & Wilson, N. (2020). Sweetened beverage taxes and changes in beverage price, imports and manufacturing: Interrupted time series analysis in a middle-income country. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity, 17, 90. doi: 10.1186/s12966-020-00980-1

Journal - Research Article

Vaipuna, T., Allison, L., Bhasin, A., Choi, K., Chu, A., Grice, K., Hay, A., Huang, S., Jarvis, E.-M., Laing, B., Lewis, A., Moriarty, R. H., … Rajendra, P., Simpson, J., Tay, A., Yang, A., Smith, M., Gage, R., … Signal, L. (2020). An objective methodology capturing online commodity marketing and other harms. Health Promotion International, 35, 1312-1319. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daz131

Journal - Research Article

Carter, M.-A., Signal, L. N., Edwards, R., & Hoek, J. (2019). Competing teammates: Food in New Zealand sports settings. Health Promotion International, 34(4), 803-810. doi: 10.1093/heapro/day035

Journal - Research Article

Chambers, T., Stanley, J., Pearson, A. L., Smith, M., Barr, M., Ni Mhurchu, C., & Signal, L. (2019). Quantifying children's non-supermarket exposure to alcohol marketing via product packaging using wearable cameras. Journal of Studies on Alcohol & Drugs, 80(2), 158-166. doi: 10.15288/jsad.2019.80.158

Journal - Research Article

Dew, K., Barton, J., Stairmand, J., Sarfati, D., & Signal, L. (2019). Ascertaining patients’ understandings of their condition: A conversation analysis of contradictory norms in cancer specialist consultations. Health Sociology Review, 28(3), 229-244. doi: 10.1080/14461242.2019.1633945

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., Leung, W., Stanley, J., Reeder, A., Mackay, C., Chambers, T., Smith, M., Barr, M., & Signal, L. (2019). Studying third-parties and environments: New Zealand sun-safety research. Health Promotion International, 34(3), 440-446. doi: 10.1093/heapro/dax094

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., Wilson, N., Signal, L., & Thomson, G. (2019). Shade in playgrounds: Findings from a nationwide survey and implications for urban health policy. Journal of Public Health, 27(5), 669-674. doi: 10.1007/s10389-018-0990-9

Journal - Research Article

Signal, L. N., Jenkin, G. L. S., Barr, M., Smith, M., Chambers, T. J., Hoek, J., & Ni Mhurchu, C. (2019). Prime Minister for a day: Children's views on junk food marketing and what to do about it. New Zealand Medical Journal, 132(1492), 36-45. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Article

Teng, A. M., Jones, A. C., Mizdrak, A., Signal, L., Genç, M., & Wilson, N. (2019). Impact of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes on purchases and dietary intake: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Obesity Reviews, 20, 1187-1204. doi: 10.1111/obr.12868

Journal - Research Article

Veatupu, L., Puloka, V., Smith, M., McKerchar, C., & Signal, L. (2019). Me'akai in Tonga: Exploring the nature and context of the food Tongan children eat in Ha'apai using wearable cameras. International Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health, 16(10), 1681. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16101681

Journal - Research Article

Chambers, T., Pearson, A. L., Kawachi, I., Stanley, J., Smith, M., Barr, M., … Signal, L. (2018). Children's home and school neighbourhood exposure to alcohol marketing: Using wearable camera and GPS data to directly examine the link between retailer availability and visual exposure to marketing. Health & Place, 54, 102-109. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2018.09.012

Journal - Research Article

Chambers, T., Stanley, J., Signal, L., Pearson, A. L., Smith, M., Barr, M., & Ni Mhurchu, C. (2018). Quantifying the nature and extent of children's real-time exposure to alcohol marketing in their everyday lives using wearable cameras: Children's exposure via a range of media in a range of key places. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 53(5), 626-633. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agy053

Journal - Research Article

Dew, K., Signal, L., Stairmand, J., Simpson, A., & Sarfati, D. (2018). Cancer care decision-making and treatment consent: An observational study of patients’ and clinicians’ rights. Journal of Sociology, 55(1), 161-178. doi: 10.1177/1440783318773880

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., Barr, M., Stanley, J., Reeder, A., Mackay, C., Smith, M., Chambers, T., Leung, W., & Signal, L. (2018). Sun protection and shade availability in New Zealand's outdoor recreation spaces. New Zealand Medical Journal, 131(1484), 30-37. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., Leung, W., Stanley, J., Reeder, A., Mackay, C., Smith, M., Barr, M., Chambers, T., & Signal, L. (2018). Sun protection among New Zealand primary school children. Health Education & Behavior, 45(5), 800-807. doi: 10.1177/1090198117741943

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., O'Toole, C., Robinson, A., Reeder, A., Signal, L., & Mackay, C. (2018). Wellington playgrounds uncovered: An examination of solar ultraviolet radiation and shade protection in New Zealand. Photochemistry & Photobiology, 94(2), 357-361. doi: 10.1111/php.12855

Journal - Research Article

Gage, R., Wilson, N., Signal, L., Barr, M., Reeder, A., & Thomson, G. (2018). Using Google Earth to assess shade for sun protection in urban recreation spaces: Methods and results. Journal of Health Communication, 43, 1061-1068. doi: 10.1007/s10900-018-0522-0

Journal - Research Article

O'Brien, I., Signal, L., & Sarfati, D. (2018). Wide-ranging impacts reported by NZ cancer survivors: Is supporting cancer survivor resilience a health sector role? Supportive Care in Cancer, 26(4), 1207-1213. doi: 10.1007/s00520-017-3943-x

Journal - Research Article

More publications...

Our academic building is temporarily closed for seismic reasons but our top class teaching, studying and research programmes remain in full swing.

Keep an eye on our website for updates or connect with us on: Twitter @OtagoWellington