Staff Profile

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Career Summary

Biography

Melissa Harris is a Research Academic at the Research Centre for Gender, Health an Ageing, University of Newcastle. She has a background in psychology and has expertise in examining psychosocial factors in chronic disease. 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 cohort recruitment and the examination of contraceptive practices among young women.

Qualifications

  • PhD (Gender and Health), University of Newcastle, 19/08/2013
  • Bachelor of Arts (Psychology) Honours, University of Newcastle, 22/12/1999

Research

Research keywords

  • chronic disease
  • coping
  • disease onset
  • longitudinal data
  • mental health
  • psychosomatics
  • qualitative methods
  • quality of life
  • stress and health
  • women's health

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

Fields of Research

CodeDescriptionPercentage
119999Medical And Health Sciences Not Elsewhere Classified45
111714Mental Health45
170199Psychology Not Elsewhere Classified10

Teaching

Teaching expertise

health psychology;

stress;

sensitive issues including sexuality, abuse, and mental health disorders

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Highlighted Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2013Harris 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]
2012Harris 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]

Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.

Click on a category title below to expand the list of citations for that specific category.

Journal article (5 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2014Harris 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.', Aust N Z J Public Health, 38 495 (2014)
2013Allen 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]
2013Harris 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]
2012Harris 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]
2011Newman LK, Harris ML, Allen J, 'Neurobiological basis of parenting disturbance', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45 109-122 (2011) [C1]
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Conference (2 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2013Herbert 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

2010Harris 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]
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants3
Total funding$59,894

- Indicates that the researcher may be seeking students for this project.

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

2014 (1 grants)

The role of perceived stress on the onset of type 2 diabetes in women.$21,500
Funding Body: John Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust Fund

Project Team
Doctor Melissa Harris, Professor John Attia, Doctor Judy Luu, Associate Professor Deb Loxton
SchemeRole
Research GrantChief Investigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$21,50020142014
GNo:G1301440

2013 (1 grants)

A life course perspective on the identification of risk factors for low birth weight$23,994
Funding Body: Hunter Medical Research Institute

Project Team
Doctor Alexis Hure, Associate Professor Deb Loxton, Doctor Catherine Chojenta, Ms Amy Anderson, Doctor Melissa Harris
SchemeRole
Project GrantInvestigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$23,99420132013
GNo:G1300904

2010 (1 grants)

Effective population health interventions for the primary prevention of musculoskeletal conditions$14,400
Funding Body: Victorian Department of Health

Project Team
Conjoint Associate Professor Lynne Parkinson, Doctor Melissa Harris
SchemeRole
Project GrantInvestigator
Total AmountFunding StartFunding Finish
$14,40020102010
GNo:G1000770
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Research Supervision

Number of current supervisions1
Total current UoN PhD EFTSL0.25

For supervisions undertaken at an institution other that the University of Newcastle, the institution name is listed below the program name.

Current Supervision

CommencedProposed
Completion
ProgramSupervisor TypeResearch Title
20142018PhD (Gender & Health)Co-SupervisorAn Exploration into the Role of Relationship Status and the Contraceptive Practices of Young Female Adults
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Dr Melissa Harris

Work Phone(02) 40420621
Fax(02) 40420044
Email
PositionResearch Associate
Research Centre for Gender, Health & Ageing
Faculty of Health and Medicine
The University of Newcastle, Australia
Office
Level 4 West Wing 116,
HMRI
URL:www.newcastle.edu.au/profile/melissa-harris