Dr Melissa Harris

Research Academic

Faculty of Health and Medicine

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.

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

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

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

Fields of Research

CodeDescriptionPercentage
111714Mental Health45
119999Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified45
170199Psychology not elsewhere classified10

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

DatesTitleOrganisation / Department
1/01/2015 - 31/12/2015Research AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
Faculty of Health and Medicine
Australia
24/03/2011 - 30/06/2011Research AssociateUniversity of Newcastle
Faculty of Health
Australia
1/01/2011 - 14/02/2011Research AssociateUniversity of Newcastle
Faculty of Health
Australia
1/08/2009 - 18/12/2009Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Psychology
Australia
1/07/2009 - 18/12/2009Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Psychology
Australia
2/10/2008 - 1/10/2009Research AssociateUniversity of Newcastle
School of Medicine and Public Health
Australia
6/11/2006 - 1/12/2006Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Medicine and Public Health
Australia
17/07/2006 - 24/11/2006Casual AcademicUniversity of Newcastle
School of Medicine and Public Health
Australia
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Journal article (11 outputs)

YearCitationAltmetricsLink
2015Loxton 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)
DOI10.2196/jmir.4261Author URL
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton, Amy Anderson, Julie Byles
2015Harris ML, Loxton D, Wigginton B, Lucke JC, 'Harris et al. respond to "social media recruitment"', American Journal of Epidemiology, 181 750-751 (2015)
DOI10.1093/aje/kwv008
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton
2015Harris 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 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.

DOI10.1093/aje/kwv006
CitationsScopus - 2
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton
2015Wigginton 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)
DOI10.1177/0959353514562802Author URL
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton
2015Loxton 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)
DOI10.2196/jmir.4261Author URL
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton
2015Harris 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)
DOI10.1371/journal.pone.0120507Author URL
Co-authorsJulie Byles, Deborah Loxton
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', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 38 495-495 (2014) [C3]
DOI10.1111/1753-6405.12281
CitationsScopus - 4Web of Science - 1
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton
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]
DOI10.1007/s12160-013-9478-6Author URL
CitationsScopus - 3Web of Science - 2
Co-authorsJulie Byles, Deborah Loxton
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]
DOI10.1186/1477-7525-11-140Author URL
CitationsScopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authorsTerry Lewin, John Attia, Kerry Inder, Brian Kelly
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]
CitationsScopus - 1Web of Science - 1
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton, Julie Byles
2011Newman LK, Harris ML, Allen J, 'Neurobiological basis of parenting disturbance', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 45 109-122 (2011) [C1]
CitationsScopus - 10Web of Science - 6
Show 8 more journal articles

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-authorsDeborah 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]
Co-authorsDeborah Loxton, Julie Byles
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants3
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 bodyJohn Hunter Hospital Charitable Trust Fund
Project TeamDoctor Melissa Harris, Professor John Attia, Doctor Judy Luu, Associate Professor Deb Loxton
SchemeResearch Grant
RoleLead
Funding Start2014
Funding Finish2014
GNoG1301440
Type Of FundingOther Public Sector - State
Category2OPS
UONY

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 bodyHunter Medical Research Institute
Project TeamDoctor Alexis Hure, Associate Professor Deb Loxton, Doctor Catherine Chojenta, Ms Amy Anderson, Doctor Melissa Harris
SchemeProject Grant
RoleInvestigator
Funding Start2013
Funding Finish2013
GNoG1300904
Type Of FundingGrant - Aust Non Government
Category3AFG
UONY

20101 grants / $14,400

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

Funding body: Victorian Department of Health

Funding bodyVictorian Department of Health
Project TeamConjoint Associate Professor Lynne Parkinson, Doctor Melissa Harris
SchemeProject Grant
RoleInvestigator
Funding Start2010
Funding Finish2010
GNoG1000770
Type Of FundingOther Public Sector - State
Category2OPS
UONY
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Research Supervision

Current Supervision

CommencedResearch Title / Program / Supervisor Type
2014Exploring 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

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

Office

RoomLevel 4 West Wing 116
BuildingHMRI
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