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DSC3356_Ruth_photoMBChB, MPH, FNZCPHM, PhDResearch Associate Professor, Public Health Physician, Director of the EleMent research group.

Teaches: Public Health Ethics; public health for medical student.

Contact details

Tel +64 4 385 5541

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 the Tupuānuku research project funded by the Health Research Council to investigate the factors contributing to inequities in physical health outcomes for people with experience of mental illness or addiction in Aotearoa. 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, mental health care in emergency departments, and mental health service provision for Māori. Ruth is also working with Dr Paula King on the health and wellbeing impacts of incarceration for Māori.

Ruth welcomes expressions of interest form Masters and PhD students.


Buchanan, M., Newton-Howes, G., Cunningham, R., McLeod, G. F. H., & Boden, J. M. (2024). The role of social support in reducing the long-term burden of cumulative childhood adversity on adulthood internalising disorder. Social Psychiatry & Psychiatric Epidemiology. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1007/s00127-024-02674-6 Journal - Research Article

Manuel, J., Crengle, S., Crowe, M., Lacey, C., Cunningham, R., Clark, M., Petrović-van der Deen, F., Porter, R., & Pitama, S. (2024). Institutional pathways to psychosis for Indigenous Māori: A qualitative exploration of experiences. SSM Qualitative Research in Health, 5, 100435. doi: 10.1016/j.ssmqr.2024.100435 Journal - Research Article

Haitana, T., Clark, M. T. R., Crowe, M., Cunningham, R., Porter, R., Pitama, S., Mulder, R., & Lacey, C. (2024). The right to equal health: Best practice priorities for Māori with bipolar disorder from staff focus groups. Healthcare, 12, 793. doi: 10.3390/healthcare12070793 Journal - Research Article

Cunningham, R., Imlach, F., Haitana, T., Clark, M. T. R., Every-Palmer, S., Lockett, H., & Peterson, D. (2024). Experiences of physical healthcare services in Māori and non-Māori with mental health and substance use conditions. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/00048674241238958 Journal - Research Article

Cunningham, R., Imlach, F., Every-Palmer, S., Haitana, T., & Peterson, D. (2023). Dealing with discrimination in physical health care services: Strategies of people with mental health and substance use conditions. Journal of Patient Experience. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/23743735231211778 Journal - Research Article

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