Dr Melissa Harris

Dr Melissa Harris

Research Academic

Faculty of Health and Medicine

Career Summary

Biography

Dr Melissa Harris is a Research Fellow at the Research Centre for Gender, Health an Ageing, University of Newcastle. She has a background in psychology and has expertise in examining the impact of psychosocial factors on physical health outcomes for women with chronic disease (including multimorbidity). She has a particular interest in understanding the contribution of stress (including stress perception, life histories and coping practices), and mental health to onset and burden of disease using quantitative and qualitative approaches. Her PhD research concentrated on understanding the links between psychological stress to disease onset using women with arthritis as the case study. This research involved complex causal modelling of longitudinal data and demonstrated that perceived stress preceded the onset of arthritis in women and contributed to the risk of arthritis above that of obesity, a known modifiable risk factor. This research has received international attention and has been the subject of a commentary commissioned by the Annals of Behavioral Medicine. It was suggested that this research had “the potential for enlightening the field of rheumatology and the care of patients who may be at risk for arthritis-related illnesses”. She also has experience in innovative cohort recruitment methods and the examination of contraceptive practices among young women. Melissa’s current research interest as part of the  Centre for Research Excellence in Women’s Health in the 21st Century (CREWH21) program is on examining risk factors of hospitalisation for older women using data linkage.

Research Expertise
role of stress and psychosocial factors in chronic disease onset; role of psychosocial factors in health-related quality of life outcomes; coping and life histories; causal modelling; use of longitudinal datasets such as the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health and Contraceptive Use, Pregnancy Intention and Decisions; multi-methods research; cohort recruitment methods; patterns of contraceptive use and access to health services in young women; women’s health; health services research

Teaching Expertise
health psychology; stress; sensitive issues including sexuality, abuse, and mental health disorders






Qualifications

  • PhD (Gender and Health), University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours, University of Newcastle

Keywords

  • ageing
  • anxiety
  • arthritis
  • chronic disease
  • chronic disease management
  • cohort studies
  • comorbidity
  • contraceptive use
  • coping
  • depression
  • diabetes
  • disease onset
  • health services research
  • health trajectories
  • hopsitalisation
  • linked data
  • longitudinal data
  • longitudinal models
  • mental health
  • morbidity
  • mortality
  • multimorbidity
  • musculoskeletal disorders
  • psychological medicine
  • psychosocial factors
  • psychosomatics
  • qualitative methods
  • quality of life
  • stress and health
  • women's health

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
111714 Mental Health 45
119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified 45
170199 Psychology not elsewhere classified 10

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Research Academic University of Newcastle
Faculty of Health and Medicine
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (11 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Loxton D, Powers J, Anderson AE, Townsend N, Harris ML, Tuckerman R, et al., 'Online and Offline Recruitment of Young Women for a Longitudinal Health Survey: Findings From the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health 1989-95 Cohort.', J Med Internet Res, 17 e109 (2015)
DOI 10.2196/jmir.4261
Co-authors Deborah Loxton, Julie Byles
2015 Harris ML, Loxton D, Wigginton B, Lucke JC, 'Harris et al. respond to "social media recruitment"', American Journal of Epidemiology, 181 750-751 (2015)
DOI 10.1093/aje/kwv008
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2015 Harris ML, Loxton D, Wigginton B, Lucke JC, 'Recruiting online: Lessons from a longitudinal survey of contraception and pregnancy intentions of young Australian women', American Journal of Epidemiology, 181 737-746 (2015)

Recruitment of young people for epidemiologic research remains challenging, with marked decreases in the effectiveness of face-to-face, mail, and telephone recruitment methods. We... [more]

Recruitment of young people for epidemiologic research remains challenging, with marked decreases in the effectiveness of face-to-face, mail, and telephone recruitment methods. We report on the implementation and feasibility of an innovative and flexible approach used to recruit participants for a longitudinal cohort study about contraceptive use and pregnancy (the Contraceptive Use, Pregnancy Intention, and Decisions (CUPID) Study). Australian women aged 18-23 years were recruited using a range of online, networking, and offline methods, including social media (primarily Facebook (Facebook Inc., Menlo Park, California; http://www.facebook.com)), face-to-face events, distribution of promotional material, and media releases. Over the course of the 1-year recruitment period (beginning in September 2012), a total of 3,795 eligible women were recruited to complete the online survey, at a cost of approximately A$11 per participant. This sample was found to be broadly representative of the Australian population of women aged 18-23 years in terms of demographic characteristics, with the exception of an overrepresentation of tertiary-educated women (88.7% compared with 72.6%). This study demonstrated that although current recruitment strategies are required to be innovative and flexible in order to engage young people in epidemiologic research, representative samples can be achieved online at reasonable cost.

DOI 10.1093/aje/kwv006
Citations Scopus - 2Web of Science - 2
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2015 Wigginton B, Harris ML, Loxton D, Herbert D, Lucke J, 'The feminisation of contraceptive use: Australian women's accounts of accessing contraception', FEMINISM & PSYCHOLOGY, 25 178-198 (2015)
DOI 10.1177/0959353514562802
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2015 Loxton D, Powers J, Anderson AE, Townsend N, Harris ML, Tuckerman R, et al., 'Online and Offline Recruitment of Young Women for a Longitudinal Health Survey: Findings From the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health 1989-95 Cohort', JOURNAL OF MEDICAL INTERNET RESEARCH, 17 (2015)
DOI 10.2196/jmir.4261
Co-authors Julie Byles, Deborah Loxton
2015 Harris ML, Byles JE, Sibbritt D, Loxton D, '"Just get on with it": qualitative insights of coming to terms with a deteriorating body for older women with osteoarthritis.', PLoS One, 10 e0120507 (2015)
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0120507
Co-authors Julie Byles, Deborah Loxton
2014 Harris ML, Herbert D, Loxton D, Dobson A, Wigginton B, Lucke JC, 'Recruiting young women for health surveys: Traditional random sampling methods are not cost-effective', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38 495-495 (2014) [C3]
DOI 10.1111/1753-6405.12281
Citations Scopus - 5Web of Science - 3
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2013 Harris ML, Loxton D, Sibbritt DW, Byles JE, 'The Influence of Perceived Stress on the Onset of Arthritis in Women: Findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health', ANNALS OF BEHAVIORAL MEDICINE, 46 9-18 (2013) [C1]
DOI 10.1007/s12160-013-9478-6
Citations Scopus - 3Web of Science - 2
Co-authors Julie Byles, Deborah Loxton
2013 Allen J, Inder KJ, Harris ML, Lewin TJ, Attia JR, Kelly BJ, 'Quality of life impact of cardiovascular and affective conditions among older residents from urban and rural communities', HEALTH AND QUALITY OF LIFE OUTCOMES, 11 (2013) [C1]
DOI 10.1186/1477-7525-11-140
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Terry Lewin, John Attia, Brian Kelly, Kerry Inder
2012 Harris ML, Loxton DJ, Sibbritt DW, Byles JE, 'The relative importance of psychosocial factors in arthritis: Findings from 10,509 Australian women', Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 73 251-256 (2012) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authors Deborah Loxton, Julie Byles
2011 Newman LK, Harris ML, Allen J, 'Neurobiological basis of parenting disturbance', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45 109-122 (2011) [C1]
Citations Scopus - 11Web of Science - 7
Show 8 more journal articles

Conference (2 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2013 Herbert D, Harris ML, Loxton D, Lucke J, 'Contraceptive use and unintended pregnancy among 18-23 year old women in Australia: the first findings of the CUPID study', European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, Copenhagen, Denmark (2013) [E3]
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2010 Harris ML, Loxton DJ, Sibbritt DW, Byles JE, 'Psychosocial characteristics of midlife women with arthritis: Results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health', 2010 National Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing:, Newcastle, NSW (2010) [E3]
Co-authors Deborah Loxton, Julie Byles
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 3
Total funding $59,894

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20141 grants / $21,500

The role of perceived stress on the onset of type 2 diabetes in women.$21,500

Funding body: John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust Fund

Funding body John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust Fund
Project Team Doctor Melissa Harris, Professor John Attia, Doctor Judy Luu, Associate Professor Deb Loxton
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2014
Funding Finish 2014
GNo G1301440
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y

20131 grants / $23,994

A life course perspective on the identification of risk factors for low birth weight$23,994

Funding body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Funding body Hunter Medical Research Institute
Project Team Doctor Alexis Hure, Associate Professor Deb Loxton, Doctor Catherine Chojenta, Ms Amy Anderson, Doctor Melissa Harris
Scheme Project Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2013
Funding Finish 2013
GNo G1300904
Type Of Funding Grant - Aust Non Government
Category 3AFG
UON Y

20101 grants / $14,400

Effective population health interventions for the primary prevention of musculoskeletal conditions$14,400

Funding body: Victorian Department of Health

Funding body Victorian Department of Health
Project Team Conjoint Associate Professor Lynne Parkinson, Doctor Melissa Harris
Scheme Project Grant
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2010
Funding Finish 2010
GNo G1000770
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y
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Research Supervision

Current Supervision

Commenced Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2014 Exploring the use of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception in a Cohort of Young, Australian Women
Public Health, Faculty of Health and Medicine
Co-Supervisor
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Dr Melissa Harris

Position

Research Academic
Research Centre for Gender, Health & Ageing
Faculty of Health and Medicine

Contact Details

Email melissa.harris@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 40420621
Fax (02) 40420044

Office

Room Level 4 West Wing 116
Building HMRI
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