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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

Lockett, H., Koning, A., Lacey, C., Every-Palmer, S., Scott, K. M., Cunningham, R., Dowell, T., Smith, L., Masters, A., … Chambers, S. (2021). Addressing structural discrimination: Prioritizing people with mental health and addiction issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1538), 128-134. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Cunningham, R., Milner, A., Gibb, S., Rijnberg, V., Disney, G., & Kavanagh, A. M. (2021). Gendered experiences of unemployment, suicide and self-harm: A population-level record linkage study. Psychological Medicine. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/s0033291721000994

Pilleron, S., Gower, H., Janssen-Heijnen, M., Signal, V. C., Gurney, J. K., Morris, E. J. A., Cunningham, R., & Sarfati, D. (2021). Patterns of age disparities in colon and lung cancer survival: A systematic narrative literature review. BMJ Open, 11, e044239. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044239

Cunningham, R., Crowe, M., Stanley, J., Haitana, T., Pitama, S., Porter, R., Baxter, J., Huria, T., Mulder, R., Clark, M. T. R., & Lacey, C. (2020). Gender and mental health service use in bipolar disorder: National cohort study. BJPsych Open, 6(6), 138. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2020.117

Petrović-van der Deen, F., Cunningham, R., Manuel, J., Gibb, S., Porter, R. J., Pitama, S., Crowe, M., Crengle, S., & Lacey, C. (2020). Exploring indigenous ethnic inequities in first episode psychosis in New Zealand: A national cohort study. Schizophrenia Research, 223, 311-318. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2020.09.004

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

Chapter in Book - Research

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

Chapter in Book - Research

Cunningham, R., Milner, A., Gibb, S., Rijnberg, V., Disney, G., & Kavanagh, A. M. (2021). Gendered experiences of unemployment, suicide and self-harm: A population-level record linkage study. Psychological Medicine. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1017/s0033291721000994

Journal - Research Article

Cunningham, R., Crowe, M., Stanley, J., Haitana, T., Pitama, S., Porter, R., Baxter, J., Huria, T., Mulder, R., Clark, M. T. R., & Lacey, C. (2020). Gender and mental health service use in bipolar disorder: National cohort study. BJPsych Open, 6(6), 138. doi: 10.1192/bjo.2020.117

Journal - Research Article

Cunningham, R., Stanley, J., Haitana, T., Pitama, S., Crowe, M., Mulder, R., Porter, R., & Lacey, C. (2020). The physical health of Māori with bipolar disorder. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 54(11), 1107-1114. doi: 10.1177/0004867420954290

Journal - Research Article

Every-Palmer, S., Cunningham, R., Jenkins, M., & Bell, E. (2020). The Christchurch mosque shooting, the media, and subsequent gun control reform in New Zealand: A descriptive analysis. Psychiatry, Psychology & Law. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/13218719.2020.1770635

Journal - Research Article

Lacey, C., Cunningham, R., Rijnberg, V., Manuel, J., Clark, M. T. R., Keelan, K., Pitama, S., Huria, T., Lawson, R., & Jordan, J. (2020). Eating disorders in New Zealand: Implications for Māori and health service delivery. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 53, 1974-1982. doi: 10.1002/eat.23372

Journal - Research Article

Newton-Howes, G., Cunningham, R., & Atkinson, J. (2020). Personality disorder prevalence and correlates in a whole of nation dataset. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology, 56(4), 679-685. doi: 10.1007/s00127-020-01876-y

Journal - Research Article

Peterson, D., & Cunningham, R. (2020). Experiencing breast cancer in the context of mental illness in New Zealand. Kōtuitui, 15(1), 236-245. doi: 10.1080/1177083X.2020.1728346

Journal - Research Article

Petrović-van der Deen, F., Cunningham, R., Manuel, J., Gibb, S., Porter, R. J., Pitama, S., Crowe, M., Crengle, S., & Lacey, C. (2020). Exploring indigenous ethnic inequities in first episode psychosis in New Zealand: A national cohort study. Schizophrenia Research, 223, 311-318. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2020.09.004

Journal - Research Article

Richardson, A., Richard, L., Gunter, K., Cunningham, R., Hamer, H., Lockett, H., Wyeth, E., Stokes, T., … Cox, A., & Derrett, S. (2020). A systematic scoping review of interventions to integrate physical and mental healthcare for people with serious mental illness and substance use disorders. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 128, 52-67. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.05.021

Journal - Research Article

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

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

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

Journal - Research Article

Lockett, H., Koning, A., Lacey, C., Every-Palmer, S., Scott, K. M., Cunningham, R., Dowell, T., Smith, L., Masters, A., … Chambers, S. (2021). Addressing structural discrimination: Prioritizing people with mental health and addiction issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. New Zealand Medical Journal, 134(1538), 128-134. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Other

Pilleron, S., Gower, H., Janssen-Heijnen, M., Signal, V. C., Gurney, J. K., Morris, E. J. A., Cunningham, R., & Sarfati, D. (2021). Patterns of age disparities in colon and lung cancer survival: A systematic narrative literature review. BMJ Open, 11, e044239. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044239

Journal - Research Other

Lacey, C., Clark, M., Manuel, J., Pitama, S., Cunningham, R., Keelan, K., Rijnberg, V., Cleland, L., & Jordan, J. (2020). Is there systemic bias for Māori with eating disorders? A need for greater awareness in the healthcare system. New Zealand Medical Journal, 133(1514), 71-76. Retrieved from https://www.nzma.org.nz/journal

Journal - Research Other

Shaw, C. V., D'Souza, A. J., Cunningham, R., & Sarfati, D. (2020). Revolutionized public health teaching to equip medical students for 21st century practice. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 59(2), 296-304. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2020.02.019

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

Journal - Research Other

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

Journal - Research Other

Cunningham, R. (2019). Integrated data and health disparities associated with mental health conditions. Proceedings of the Otago Spotlight Series: Mental Health Research. Retrieved from https://www.otago.ac.nz/healthsciences/research/forum/index.html

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

Cunningham, R., & Poppe, K. (2019). Predicting cardiovascular risk among people with severe mental illness. Proceedings of the Australasian Epidemiological Association (AEA) Annual Scientific Meeting: Epidemiology in the Real World. (pp. 10). Retrieved from http://www.aea2019.com

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

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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/

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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]

Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Abstract

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.

Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

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.

Conference Contribution - Poster Presentation (not in published proceedings)

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.

Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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.

Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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.

Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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.

Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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.

Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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.

Conference Contribution - Verbal presentation and other Conference outputs

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