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Making Health Services More Accessible to Pacific Families

New study hopes to identify ways to making health services more accessible to Pacific families

A team of researchers, led by Debbie Ryan of Pacific Perspectives, has been awarded a Health Research Council grant of $400,000 over two years to help practitioners and planners more deeply understand how Pacific individuals and families relate to our health system.

“Life expectancy for Pacific people is more than five years below the majority of New Zealanders, with greater numbers of Pacific people living with long-term health conditions,” Dr Debbie Ryan, Principal of Pacific Perspectives explains.

“Despite this, we see fewer Pacific people engaging effectively with our health system. This research will not only help us more clearly understand why, it will also provide guidance on what we can do about it.”

This study will employ a variety of research methods including focus groups and interviews to investigate different models of care that are available to Pacific people through the general practice environment, and explore how Pacific individuals and families engage with the services that are available. The research will include Pacific individuals and families as well as health professionals providing services and support to Pacific communities.

The study aims to highlight how differences in worldview, social contexts and demographics, cultural approaches to decision making, identity and knowledge influence the relationship between Pacific people and the health system and services that are available to them.

“Our aim is to contribute to a broader evidence base that can guide the future development of primary health care practice in ways that lead to more effective services and support for Pacific people individuals and families living with long term conditions.”

“There’s been so little research in this area, and that needs to change - the stakes are too high,” Dr Ryan adds.

The research project has a working title of Pacific patients' perspectives of treatment of chronic conditions and is being undertaken between now and 30 June 2019. For more information, contact Pacific Perspectives via

Notes:The research team includes:

· Dr Debbie Ryan (Pacific Perspectives)
· Dr Ausaga Fa’asalele Tanuvasa (Victoria University)
· Associate Professor Timothy Kenealy (University of Auckland)
· Dr Apisalome Talemaitoga (GP)
· Dr Ben Gray (University of Otago).

Pacific Perspectives is a consultancy that specialises in health and education issues for Pacific peoples. Pacific Perspectives also host the Aniva programme, providing post-graduate qualifications for Pacific health workers that are delivered in a uniquely Pacific context.


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