Dr Melissa Harris

Dr Melissa Harris

Research Academic

Faculty of Health and Medicine

Career Summary

Biography

Research overview and current appointment: Dr Melissa Harris is a Centre for Research Excellence in Women’s Health in the 21st Century (CREWH21) Research Fellow at the Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing. She has a background in psychology and a strong interest in understanding factors that influence women’s health across the lifecourse. Dr Harris has a particular interest in chronic disease management, including the impact of psychosocial factors on physical health and healthcare outcomes for women with chronic disease. As part of the CREWH21 program her current research involves the examination of drivers of hospitalisation for older women using nationally representative survey data linked with administrative healthcare data.

Research highlights: Dr Harris has expertise 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 and disease onset using women with arthritis as the case study. Using complex statistical modelling of longitudinal data, she was able to demonstrate that perceived stress preceded the onset of arthritis in women and conferred a high risk than obesity, a known modifiable risk factor. In a commissioned commentary 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”. From this research she was invited to contribute a sole author book chapter on the contribution of psychological factors to the burden and onset of arthritis, alongside international arthritis experts.

Dr Harris also has experience in innovative cohort recruitment methods, leading the establishment of the Contraceptive Use, Pregnancy Intention and Decisions (CUPID) cohort. In an invited commentary it was suggested that this research laid the groundwork for innovative strategies applied to epidemiological research that takes advantage of 21st century technology.

Publications and grants: In her short academic career, Dr Harris has made a substantial contribution to the field of public health. She has attracted over $90,000 in funding from awards and grants, including one grant as lead Chief Investigator. She has published 12 journal articles (80% of which are first/second author) in high ranking public health journals, with 2 (published in top 10 journals for epidemiology and psychology) receiving invited commentaries in which the quality, innovation and substantial impact to the field was commended. In addition, Dr Harris has 1 invited sole author book chapter, co-authored 3 government reports, contributed to 16 national/international conference presentations and 1 clinical manual (The “Parenting with Feeling” program which has been implemented throughout Australia and New Zealand).

Peer review and professional activities: Since submission of her PhD, Dr Harris has acted as the RHD Support Coordinator for 55 students at the Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing. Dr Harris is currently co-supervising 1 PhD student and 4 honours students. She has taught into a number of psychology and public health subjects including experimental methodology, and understanding sensitive issues such as abuse and mental health disorders. Dr Harris has contributed to conference organisation and regularly acts as a reviewer for high impact factor international journals such as the BMJ, American Journal of Epidemiology, Annals of Behavioral Medicine and the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. In addition, she has acted as a grant reviewer for the 2015 NHMRC Project Grant Scheme.





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

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2015 - 13/08/2015 Research Academic Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Priority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing
Australia
20/08/2012 - 31/12/2014 Research Academic Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Priority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing
Australia
2/04/2012 - 30/11/2012 Research Assistant Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Centre for Translational Neuroscience and Mental Health
Australia
5/10/2009 - 8/02/2011 Research Associate Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Priority Research Centre for Gender, Health and Ageing
Australia
8/10/2007 - 5/10/2009 Research Associate Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Australia

Awards

Scholarship

Year Award
2011 University of Newcastle Postgraduate Research Scholarship
The University of Newcastle

Invitations

Keynote Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2015 Chronic disease onset and women: does stress hold the key?

Organiser

Year Title / Rationale
2010 9th National Conference of Emerging Researchers in Ageing "Getting the right skill mix"

Speaker

Year Title / Rationale
2013 Make love not war: the CUPID collaboration

Grant Reviews

Year Grant Amount
2015 NHMRC Project Grant
Aust Competitive - Commonwealth - 1CS, Aust Competitive - Commonwealth - 1CS
$617,536

Prestigious works

Year Commenced Year Finished Prestigious Work Role
2015 2015 Recruiting online: lessons from a longitudinal survey of contraception and pregnancy intentions of young Australian women American Journal of Epidemiology Author
2014 2014 Health and wellbeing of women aged 18 to 23 in 2013 and 1996: findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health Report prepared for the Australian Government Department of Health Author
2013 2013 Mental Health: findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health Report prepared for the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing Author
2013 2013 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 Author
2009 2009 The Parenting with Feeling Program Clinical manual Author

Teaching

Code Course Role Duration
INFO1010 Introduction to Information Systems
Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Tutor 2/03/2009 - 5/06/2009
INFO1010 Introduction to Information Systems
Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Coordinated and lectured into the understanding data and spreadsheets module for 220 students.
Lecturer/Tutor 27/07/2009 - 18/12/2009
PUBH2300 Personal Development and Health Issues in the Primary School
Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Tutor 17/07/2006 - 24/11/2006
PSYC2070 Experimental Methodology
Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Tutor 24/02/2003 - 30/06/2003
PUBH2020 Foundation Studs in Early Childhood Health and Policy
Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Tutor 20/02/2006 - 30/06/2006
PUBH1080 Studies in Population Health and Health Promotion
Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Exam marking 17/07/2006 - 24/11/2006
PSYC2500 Introduction to Abnormal Behaviour
Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Tutor 14/07/2003 - 28/11/2003
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Publications

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


Journal article (12 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2016 Wigginton B, Harris ML, Loxton D, Lucke JC, 'A qualitative analysis of women's explanations for changing contraception: the importance of non-contraceptive effects.', J Fam Plann Reprod Health Care, (2016)
DOI 10.1136/jfprhc-2015-101184
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) [C1]
DOI 10.2196/jmir.4261
Citations Scopus - 1
Co-authors Amy Anderson, Deborah Loxton, Julie Byles, Jenny Powers
2015 Wigginton B, Moran C, Harris ML, Loxton D, Lucke J, 'Young Australian women explain their contraceptive choices.', Cult Health Sex, 1-15 (2015)
DOI 10.1080/13691058.2015.1117138
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
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) [C3]
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) [C1]

© 2015 The Author. Recruitment of young people for epidemiologic research remains challenging, with marked decreases in the effectiveness of face-to-face, mail, and telephone rec... [more]

© 2015 The Author. 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 - 3Web of Science - 3
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) [C1]
DOI 10.1177/0959353514562802
Co-authors 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 (2014) [C3]
DOI 10.1111/1753-6405.12281
Citations Scopus - 6Web of Science - 6
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
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, 18 S78-S78 (2013)
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 Deborah Loxton, Julie Byles
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 - 2Web of Science - 2
Co-authors John Attia, Kerry Inder, Brian Kelly, Terry Lewin
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 Julie Byles, Deborah Loxton
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 9 more journal articles

Conference (16 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2015 Dolja-Gore X, Harris ML, Kendig H, Byles J, 'Determinants of overnight hospital admissions for Australians aged 85+ in their last year of life' (2015) [O1]
Co-authors Julie Byles, Xenia Doljagore
2015 Harris ML, Oldmeadow C, Hure A, Loxton D, Luu J, Attia J, 'Increased risk of type 2 diabetes in women: does perceived stress hold the key?' (2015)
Co-authors Deborah Loxton, Alexis Hure, John Attia
2015 Patrick K, Ezer P, Loxton D, Harris ML, Lucke J, 'Rural-urban differences in use and access to contraception for young Australian women' (2015)
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2015 Rich J, Inder K, Harris ML, Perkins D, Byles J, 'Who cares for whom? Giving and receiving healthcare for women over 70 in remote Australian places' (2015)
2014 Harris ML, Wigginton B, Loxton D, Lucke J, '¿It¿s my body¿: patterns of contraceptive use among young Australian women' (2014)
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2014 Wigginton B, Harris ML, Loxton D, Lucke J, 'What "finding the ¿right¿ contraceptive" means to Young Australian women' (2014)
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2014 Fraser C, Wigginton B, Harris ML, Bateson D, Stewart M, Loxton D, Lucke J, 'Contraceptive consultations in primary care: who¿s talking?' (2014)
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2014 Wigginton B, Moran C, Harris ML, Loxton D, Lucke J, '¿I love having a choice¿: young Australian women¿s discussions about contraceptive choice' (2014)
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
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 (2013) [E3]
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2013 Wigginton B, Harris ML, Loxton D, Herbert D, Lucke J, 'The medicalisation of reproduction: women¿s accounts of accessing contraception' (2013)
Co-authors Deborah Loxton
2013 Parkinson L, Harris ML, 'Effective population health interventions for the primary prevention of musculoskeletal conditions in older people' (2013)
Co-authors L Parkinson
2013 Harris ML, Loxton D, Sibbritt D, Byles J, '¿The mind is such a powerful thing¿: the role of perceived stress on the onset of arthritis in women' (2013)
Co-authors Julie Byles, Deborah Loxton
2013 Harris ML, Anderson A, Rich J, Loxton D, 'Drinking alcohol during pregnancy: how do women experience information delivery?' (2013)
Co-authors Amy Anderson, Deborah Loxton, Jane Rich
2013 Chojenta C, Anderson A, Gresham E, Harris ML, Rich J, 'Australian Longitudinal Study on Women¿s Health: insights from research higher degree students' (2013)
Co-authors Amy Anderson, Jane Rich, Catherine Chojenta
2012 Loxton D, Lucke J, Herbert D, Harris ML, 'What can we find out about sexual and reproductive health?' (2012)
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: (2010) [E3]
Co-authors Julie Byles, Deborah Loxton
Show 13 more conferences

Report (3 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2014 Mishra G, Loxton DJ, Anderson A, Hockey R, Powers J, Brown W, et al., 'Health and wellbeing of women aged 18 to 23 in 2013 and 1996: findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women¿s Health', Department of Health, 183 (2014)
Co-authors Jenny Powers, Meredith Tavener, Deborah Loxton, Julie Byles
2013 Holden L, Dobson A, Byles J, Loxton D, Dolja-Gore X, Hockey R, et al., 'Mental Health: Findings from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health', Department of Health and Ageing (2013)
Co-authors Catherine Chojenta, Xenia Doljagore, Deborah Loxton, Julie Byles
2010 Parkinson L, Harris ML, 'Effective population health interventions for the primary prevention of musculoskeletal conditions: an evidence check rapid review brokered by the Sax Institute (http://www.saxinstitute.org.au) for the Victorian Department of Health', Victorian Department of Health, 101 (2010)
Co-authors L Parkinson
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 5
Total funding $66,394

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


20151 grants / $1,500

Society for Longitudinal and Life Course Studies, Dublin, Ireland, 18-21 October 2015$1,500

Funding body: University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine

Funding body University of Newcastle - Faculty of Health and Medicine
Project Team Doctor Melissa Harris
Scheme Travel Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2015
Funding Finish 2015
GNo G1501124
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y

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

Funding body John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust
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

20121 grants / $5,000

When life's a pain: perceived stress and psychosocial factors in women with arthritis transitioning from midlife to older age$5,000

Funding body: Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle

Funding body Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
Project Team
Scheme Grants-in-aid
Role Lead
Funding Start 2012
Funding Finish 2013
GNo
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON N

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

Number of supervisions

Completed4
Current1

Total current UON EFTSL

PhD0.4

Current Supervision

Commenced Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2014 PhD Exploring the use of Long-Acting Reversible Contraception in a Cohort of Young, Australian Women
PhD (Gender & Health), Faculty of Health and Medicine, The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor

Past Supervision

Year Level of Study Research Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2015 Honours Lifestyle variables as a major correlate of depression among young Australian women
Psychology, Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2015 Honours Factors associated with suicidal ideation in young Australian women aged 18-23
Psychology, Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2015 Honours Factors contributing to diagnosed anxiety among Australian females aged between 18-23
Psychology, Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
2015 Honours Contributing factors of self-harm in young Australia women
Psychology, Faculty of Science and Information Technology,The University of Newcastle
Co-Supervisor
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News

Hospital use at the end of life

PhD Opportunity - Hospital use at the end of life

October 13, 2015

A PhD opportunity is available to investigate hospital use at the end of life under the supervision of Professor Julie Byles and Dr Melissa Harris.

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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