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Ruth Cunningham, Department of Public Health

DSC3356_Ruth_photoMBChB, MPH, FNZCPHM, PhD

Senior Research Fellow, Deputy Director of the Cancer and Chronic Conditions (C3) research group.

Teaches PUBH711 Principles of Epidemiology

Contact details  

Tel  64 4 385 5541 ext 6725
Fax  64 4 389 5319
Email  ruth.cunningham@otago.ac.nz

 

Research interests and activities 

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. (http://www.otago.ac.nz/wellington/departments/publichealth/research/cancercontrol/projects/otago653266.html) 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.

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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

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., Poppe, K., Every-Palmer, S., & Jackson, R. (2019). Do we need a different tool for predicting cardiovascular risk among people with severe mental illness? Proceedings of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) 2019 New Zealand Conference. Retrieved from https://www.ranzcp2019.co.nz

Shearer, R., Tualamali’I, J., Young, W., Cunningham, R., Every-Palmer, S., Keelan, W., … Bonning, J. (2019, June). System reform: What are the government’s next steps. Panel discussion at the Mental Health in the Emergency Department Summit: New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R. (2019, October). Using integrated data to understand health care disparities associated with experience of mental health conditions. Verbal presentation at the Health Sciences Research Forum Spotlights Series: Mental Health Research, Wellington, New Zealand.

Commissioned Report for External Body

Cunningham, R., Kvalsvig, A., Peterson, D., Kuehl, S., Gibb, S., McKenzie, S., Thornley, L., & Every-Palmer, S. (2018). Stocktake report for the Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry: A background report prepared for the Inquiry panel. Commissioned by Mental Health and Addiction Inquiry. Wellington, New Zealand: EleMent Research Group, University of Otago. 267p. Retrieved from https://mentalhealth.inquiry.govt.nz/whats-new/resources/university-of-otago-stocktake-report-for-the-mental-health-and-addiction-inquiry

Blakely, T., Shaw, C., Atkinson, J., Tobias, M., Bastiampillai, N., Sloane, K., Sarfati, D., & Cunningham, R. (2010). Cancer trends: Trends in cancer incidence by ethnic and socioeconomic group, New Zealand 1981-2004. Wellington, New Zealand: University of Otago and Ministry of Health.

Shaw, C., Cunningham, R., & Sarfati, D. (2008). Next steps towards a feasibility study for colorectal cancer screening in New Zealand. Commissioned by Ministry of Health. Wellington, New Zealand: Department of Public Health. 102p. Retrieved from http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/diseases-and-conditions/cancer-programme/bowel-cancer-programme/bowel-screening-programme-expert-advice-and-more-information

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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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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., Poppe, K., Every-Palmer, S., & Jackson, R. (2019). Do we need a different tool for predicting cardiovascular risk among people with severe mental illness? Proceedings of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) 2019 New Zealand Conference. Retrieved from https://www.ranzcp2019.co.nz

Cunningham, R. (2017). Invulnerability bias explains inverse relationship between mental illness and cancer. Proceedings of the Australasian Epidemiological Association (AEA) 30th Anniversary Meeting. Retrieved from https://aea.asn.au

Cunningham, R., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., Peterson, D., & Collings, S. (2016). Cancer survival in the context of mental illness in New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) Conference for General Practice. Retrieved from http://www.generalpractice.org.nz/gp16

Lockett, H., Cunningham, R., Bagnall, C., & Arcus, K. (2016). Cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management in people who experience serious mental illness: An evidence review. Heart, Lung & Circulation, 25(Suppl. 1), (pp. S37). doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2016.05.096

Lawrence, M., Broughton, J. R., Bagnall, C., Cunningham, R., & Lockett, H. (2015). Equally well: Taking a public health approach to improving physical health outcomes for people with experience of mental health and addiction problems. Proceedings of the Public Health Association Conference. (pp. 66-67). Retrieved from https://www.ivvy.com/event/PHA15/

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., & Collings, S. (2014). Adults using mental health services die earlier than other New Zealanders. Proceedings of the New Zealand Population Health Congress: Connecting Communities, Policy and Science. (pp. 95). Retrieved from http://www.pophealthcongress.org.nz/nzphc14/programme/programme

Cunningham, R., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., Peterson, D., & Collings, S. (2014). How does recent serious mental illness impact on colorectal cancer survival? Australasian Epidemiologist, 21(3), (pp. 69). [Abstract]

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Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

Cunningham, R., Bagnall, C., Lockett, H., & Arcus, K. (2016, October). Cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management in people who experience serious mental illness: An evidence review. Poster session presented at the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists New Zealand Conference: Recover, Rebuild, Regenerate, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., Peterson, D., & Collings, S. (2015, October). Estimating the effect of recent serious mental illness on breast cancer survival. Poster session presented at the Otago Spotlight Series: Cancer Research, Wellington, New Zealand.

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Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

Shearer, R., Tualamali’I, J., Young, W., Cunningham, R., Every-Palmer, S., Keelan, W., … Bonning, J. (2019, June). System reform: What are the government’s next steps. Panel discussion at the Mental Health in the Emergency Department Summit: New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R. (2019, October). Using integrated data to understand health care disparities associated with experience of mental health conditions. Verbal presentation at the Health Sciences Research Forum Spotlights Series: Mental Health Research, Wellington, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R. (2018, July). Do current tools under-predict CVD in mental illness? Verbal presentation at the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) Conference for General Practice, Auckland, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., Peterson, D., & Collings, S. (2016, October). Cancer survival in the context of mental illness in New Zealand. Verbal presentation at the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists New Zealand Conference: Recover, Rebuild, Regenerate, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Canty, J., & Cunningham, R. (2016, August). Social media and the postgrad student: Why would you bother? Workshop presentation at the Postgraduate Research Student Symposium, Wellington, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R., Bagnall, C., Lockett, H., & Arcus, K. (2016, October). Cardiovascular disease risk assessment and management in people who experience serious mental illness: An evidence review. Verbal presentation at the Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Psychiatrists New Zealand Conference: Recover, Rebuild, Regenerate, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R., Peterson, D., Sarfati, D., Stanley, J., & Collings, S. (2014, October). Adults using mental health services die earlier than other New Zealanders. Verbal presentation at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) New Zealand Conference: Deep South Psychiatry, Dunedin, New Zealand.

Cunningham, R. (2010, September-October). Does health status matter for the risk of injury? Results from a longitudinal survey. Verbal presentation at the Australasian Epidemiological Association (AEA) Annual Conference, Sydney, Australia.

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Awarded Doctoral Degree

Cunningham, R. (2016). Cancer in the context of severe mental illness in New Zealand: An epidemiological study (PhD). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/6574

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