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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.


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

Clark, M. T. R., Manuel, J., Lacey, C., Pitama, S., Cunningham, R., & Jordan, J. (2023). ‘E koekoe te Tūī, e ketekete te Kākā, e kuku te Kererū, The Tūī chatters, the Kākā cackles, and the Kererū coos’: Insights into explanatory factors, treatment experiences and recovery for Māori with eating disorders: A qualitative study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/00048674231207583

Cunningham, R., Imlach, F., Haitana, T., Every-Palmer, S., Lacey, C., Lockett, H., & Peterson, D. (2023). It’s not in my head: A qualitative analysis of experiences of discrimination in people with mental health and substance use conditions seeking physical healthcare. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 14, 1285431. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2023.1285431

Manuel, J., Pitama, S., Clark, M., Crowe, M., Crengle, S., Cunningham, R., Gibb, S., Petrović-van der Deen, F. S., Porter, R. J., & Lacey, C. (2023). Racism, early psychosis, and institutional contact: A qualitative study of Indigenous experiences. International Journal of Social Psychiatry. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/00207640231195297

Cunningham, R., Imlach, F., Lockett, H., Lacey, C., Haitana, T., Every-Palmer, S., Clark, M. T. R., & Peterson, D. (2023). Do patients with mental health and substance use conditions experience discrimination and diagnostic overshadowing in primary care in Aotearoa New Zealand? Results from a national online survey. Journal of Primary Health Care, 15(2), 112-121. doi: 10.1071/HC23015

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