Research Team

The Project Team

This team includes researchers who have previously worked together from the University of Otago and the University of Waikato, with expertise in rural health, health geography, Māori health, biostatistics, data management and population health.

A/Prof  Garry Nixon – Rural Health

Garry is in clinical rural practice in Central Otago (28 yrs.)  and Associate Dean Rural University of Otago. He teaches the postgrad rural diploma which provides regular contact with the next generation of NZ’s rural doctors. He brings expertise is rural health and in leading project teams that are geographically dispersed. Garry is PI on the project.

Gabrielle Davie

Gabrielle is Senior Research Fellow (biostatistician) at the University of Otago. She has 16yrs’ research experience using NZ’s administrative health data. Gabrielle is the  Deputy Director of the Injury Prevention Research Unit and co-lead of the Dunedin School of Medicine Administrative Data for Health Research Hub. Gabrielle will lead the Dunedin based team, provide biostatistical advice and lead the analysis of routinely collected national health data sets.

Dr David Fearnley

Dave is a Rural hospital doctor for over 18 yrs including Clinical Director roles and undertaking consulting work to DHBs on rural health services. He was first author on a paper highlighting the problems with NZ’s rural health data (2016 with GN&RL). He will provide a rural health perspective to the data analysis, lead the write up of publications and be involved in implementation in the rural health and DHB sectors.

Jesse Whitehead

Jesse is a PhD candidate (spatial equity, accessibility, and sustainability of GP services in Waikato) at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis, University of Waikato, with a background in geography and GIS analysis of health services. He will liaise with Statistics NZ and work on both the rural-urban classification and the  GIS accessibility index. Jesse is well connected in the NZ and overseas rural health communities and will have an important role in translating the geographic aspects of the findings for those in the rural health and health research sectors.

Brandon De Graaf

Brandon is a Research Fellow (Data Manager/Programmer), University of Otago. His expertise is in information science including programming, geocoding, process optimisation and automation. Brandon will provide data management, geospatial and machine modeling and analysis, and produce physical maps for publications.

A/Prof Sue Crengle

Sue is a GP, Public Health Medicine Specialist and senior Māori health researcher, University of Otago.  She has experience in co-design studies and helped develop the NZ Index of Multiple Deprivation. Sue will advise on the Māori specific analyses, interpretation of data and facilitate engagement with Māori stakeholders including implementation in the Māori health research community.

Prof Ross Lawrenson

Ross is  Professor of Population Health (University of Waikato), Population Health Advisor Strategy and Funding at Waikato DHB and NZ Rural GP Network board member. He brings expertise in epidemiology and health services research with a long history in rural health research including co-design studies with rural/Māori communities.

Michelle Smith

Michelle’s role on the project is as research nurse/assistant. Michelle is an Associate Charge Nurse at Dunstan Hospital, Central Otago. She has expertise working on other rural health research projects including a current project on to validate a rural chest pain pathway.

Advisors: Prof John Humphreys, (Emeritus Prof Rural Health Geography, Monash Uni.) and Prof John Wakerman (Menzies School of Health Research, Alice Springs) are recognised Australian authorities in this field. They developed the Modified Monash classification (MMM) that has recently been adopted by the Australian Govt. for the allocation of rural primary care funding. They have published extensively, including on the development of the MMM and research translation in evidence based rural health policy.

Dr Katharina Blattner is a senior lecturer rural health University of Otago, and Senior Medical Officer for Hauora Hokianga. Kati brings expertise in rural health service delivery research, and a Hokianga perspective (a remote, predominantly Māori, Northland community). She is well placed to assist with the uptake of the GCH in the rural sector


Earnscleugh in Autumn


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