School of Population Health


Epidemiology and Biostatistics - Research

The research focus of this section is on the application of epidemiological and biostatistical methods across the spectrum of health, disease and disability from clinical practice to public health.
 

Research is currently undertaken mainly in four domains:

  • public health epidemiology and biostatistics
  • health services / clinical epidemiology and biostatistics
  • public health: clinical services interface
  • quality improvement and health informatics

The section also houses a quantitative research consultancy service that provides support across all the domains above and also supports biomedical research.

The Public Health Epidemiology and Biostatistics domain currently has four key research groupings:

  • Health Geography and Deprivation in New Zealand Health Geography includes themes such as health inequalities and how social and physical environments shape human health. Deprivation is defined as a lack of the types of diet, clothing, housing and environmental, educational, working and social conditions, activities and facilities which are customary. This research has led to the development of online tools such as the Auckland Regional Vascular Atlas (ARVA) and the Index of Multiple Area-Level Deprivation (IMALD).
  • Injury and Trauma (a research group focused mainly on road traffic injury and disability).
    • Burden of Alcohol (a research group quantifying the burden of death, disease and disability related to alcohol consumption in NZ).
    • Life Course Research (this is a new field of research for the section which examines the relative impact of exposures from the beginning through to the end of life on health).
  • ViDA (Vitamin D Assessment study) is a randomised control trial which aims to find out about the possible effect of vitamin D supplements on the incidence of heart disease, respiratory disease, and on falls and fractures. 5110 people aged 50-84 years have been followed up until late 2015. At the beginning of the study participants come to the Tāmaki Campus clinics for an initial visit, where they have a blood sample taken, they provide information about their health status and medical history, and a series of physical activities are completed and measurements are taken.
  • VIEW study (Vascular Informatics Using Epidemiology and the Web) is an HRC-funded research programme that seeks to predict vascular risk more accurately, map variation in vascular risk to determine in whom, where and when in the continuum of care disparities occur, and model what interventions are likely to have greatest impact on improving vascular outcomes. VIEW represents a large-scale, health informatics initiative linking anonymised individual data from multiple datasets, on several million New Zealanders.

An additional group within the Section is the Effective Practice, Informatics and Quality improvement (EPIQ) group. EPIQ has three inter-related subgroups:

  • Effective Practice
  • Informatics/Knowledge Management
  • Quality Improvement

EPIQ's major research activity at present is focused around PREDICT, a web-based platform for providing ‘moment of care’ evidence-based decision support practitioners for getting research into practice. The programme also generates research from practice by keeping a record of the patient-practitioner interaction. Current PREDICT projects include primary care-based CVD and diabetes risk management and risk assessment/prioritisation for coronary artery bypass grafting.

The section's Public Health: Clinical Services Interface domain is developing research expertise in screening, which draws on both public health sciences because the context is a population and clinical sciences because the activity involves a clinical action. Our current screening research activities include:

  • CVD and diabetes risk
  • cervical cancer (the section is involved in the National Cervical Cancer Screening Programme audit)
  • breast screening (the section has recently agreed to provide support for evaluating the National Breast Cancer Screening Programme)

The Biostatistics Unit includes four biostatisticians who provide a consultancy service for all researchers in the Faculty of Medical & Health Sciences.  They work in biomedical, clinical, health services and public health fields.