Summer Scholars Scheme

Over the summer the Faculty provides several scholarships to students, providing a unique opportunity for students to gain experience in research.

Students will be selected on the basis of academic merit, expertise in the research area and recommendations from staff associated with the project.

For general information, terms and conditions and to check your eligibility, see Summer Research Scholarships.

Projects for 2018/2019

700 VR for women in labour

Many women want a natural birth of their baby that avoids medical interventions. To help achieve this they can access hypnobirthing or other general antenatal (pre-birth) classes where techniques of relaxation and meditative breathing are taught. They also access a variety of mobile phone apps that promote ‘hypnobirthing’ and ‘gentle birth’. These apps encourage women to practice self-hypnosis, visualization and mindfulness, and control their breathing. Midwives also focus on breathing techniques during labour aimed at relaxing women and helping with their labour pain to avoid analgesic (pain relieving) interventions. Most women find this helpful by avoiding breath holding, and also by being distracted from the pain of contractions. Virtual Reality (VR) also has the elements of hypnobirthing including visualisation and mindfulness. However VR does not require training and therefore could be used during labour to aid relaxation and to reduce anxiety or perception of pain. Currently available apps do not incorporate breathing control responses to pain. The aim of this project is to develop a VR app specifically for use by women in labour that includes an interactive component for the woman to initiate when she is experiencing contraction pains. We are looking for a Summer Research Scholar to work with our team to develop apps that provide these features that can then be assessed for usability by women who are about to give birth.

Supervisors

701 The wellbeing of older adults in New Zealand: An international comparison

The wellbeing of older adults is an important issue for New Zealand; however, we know very little about what makes older adults in this country thrive. Research is being conducted to understand how to promote wellbeing using a mixed method approach. Analysis of representative population data is one way we are seeking to understand wellbeing for this group, as well as conducting qualitative interviews. We are looking for a Summer Research Scholar to work with our team to undertake a literature review and assist us with quantitative data analysis of both national and international data, with the aim of creating advice for policy makers to better support wellbeing in older adults.

Supervisor

704 Perceptions and experiences of physical activity as a component of physical and mental well-being in older adults

New Zealand is experiencing an ageing population; people are living longer, and many are living healthier. Research continues to highlight the physical and mental benefits of physical activity, and how a healthy lifestyle can support healthy ageing. We would like to increase our knowledge and understanding of why older adults in the Wellington region participate in physical activity, and what impact they perceive this to have on their physical and mental wellbeing. Gaining insight into features that may influence health and wellbeing among older adults will have significant implications for design, implementation, and promotion of physical activity programmes in this population. We are able to support the student to engage with groups of older adults who currently participate in physical activity in the Wellington community through an existing health contract with ACC. We envisage a qualitative research project to capture the voice of participants, which may include (but is not limited to); literature review, observational research, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and/or academic paper, with recommendations that may support active ageing in the chosen population. The final outputs are flexible in nature and may include a poster or infographic depending on the student's skills and preferences.

Supervisor

255 What are the influencers that make people desire emerging health technology?

At ACC we often receive requests to fund newly developed devices, medicines or treatments (emerging health technology) from both clients and health providers. The majority of these technology solutions do not have a solid evidence base, and it is unclear whether they work as well or better than a conventional therapy e.g., a rewalk exoskeleton vs wheelchair, however people still desire for them to be funded. For ACC we'd like to understand what the different influences are on clients or patients in general. This may include building an understanding of:

  • Direct to consumer marketing;
  • Information sources patients seek;
  • Patient to patient networks e.g., Disability support groups, and the "uberisation" of healthcare where decision making power doesn't always lie with the doctor (or health provider) but with the patient as they may have increased awareness of the choices available for their care.