Current projects

Find out about some of our current projects, including equity in the COVID-19 response, innovation in the forensic medical response to sexual assault and our research into the mysteries of yersiniosis. 

Innovation in forensic medical examination response to sexual assault

The forensic medical examination response to sexual assault is a complex system that involves a patient, medical practitioners, forensic laboratory scientists, police and legal personnel. This project seeks to review the system and look for ways that innovation in technical, social or scientific processes can provide beneficial improvements.

An initial step was to conduct a literature review of forensic medical examination studies(external link), from the perspective how these are experienced by patients and medical practitioners, to inform the innovation co-design process. The review emphasised that the forensic medical exam had a primary purpose of patient health care and a secondary purpose of providing evidence for criminal investigation and prosecution. The exam was also experienced as invasive and unpleasant, so innovations that could simplify or minimise the examination while retaining effectiveness for the health and legal purposes would be an improvement.


Unravelling the mysteries of Yersiniosis
The project ‘Unravelling the mysteries of yersiniosis’ is led by Dr Brent Gilpin at ESR and is funded by the Health Research Council. Maria Hepi from the Social Systems team is working on the social science component of the project, exploring why Māori have low notified rates of yersiniosis.

Yersiniosis is a debilitating enteric infection predominately caused by the bacteria yersinia enterocolitia. There is currently an unexplained and increasing epidemic of yersiniosis in New Zealand. However, for Māori the notified rates for yersiniosis is low. We have a working hypothesis that there is under-reporting of yersiniosis and other enteric diseases for Māori, and reasons for lower reported rates. This research is exploratory and designed to provide insights into current practice and possible service innovations. We expect the results will be able to inform subsequent and larger studies.


Co-Search: Equity in COVID-19 response

Co-Search is a research collaboration that aims to guide an effective and equitable pandemic response in Aotearoa New Zealand, and to learn how resilience and future responses can be improved. The ESR Social Systems Team, led by Mat Walton, is conducting the systems research component with the aim of developing a systemic understanding of community response and impact, to guide COVID-19 response adaptations. More information is available on the Co-Search websit(external link)e.


Whakahā o Te Pā Harakeke: Realising the Vision for a Smokefree Future

Whakahā o Te Pā Harakeke is a five-year research programme funded by the Health Research Council to help realise the vision of a smokefree future expressed in the Smokefree Aotearoa goal. The programme comprises three miro that reflect core principles of partnership and capacity building; a commitment to eliminating disparities, and an undertaking to foster active engagement with all stakeholders. The programme comprises three closely linked whenu. The ESR Social Systems Team is a partner, contributing to Whenu toru which seeks to understand influences on tobacco control policy and action, in order to identify opportunities for further action and support the use of research across Whakahā o Te Pā Harakeke. More information is available on the programme’s website. (external link)