As the Stream Leader, Research, Policy and Evaluation for the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health (CEH) based at North Richmond Community Health (NRCH), Melbourne, one of my responsibilities is to help CEH/NRCH develop a rigorous evidence base of successful services, training, resources and interventions that can improve the health and wellbeing of refugee and migrant communities. Central to bridging the theory/practice gap is the concept and practice of knowledge translation. Being located at CEH brings me close to the world of practice, so I can facilitate the transfer of research findings into practice through supporting professionals, health care systems and organizations.

This interest came about in my involvement in the Guidelines Technical Advisory Group (GTAG) for the development of evidence based guidelines for the management and treatment of overweight and obesity for children/youth and adults in New Zealand. Partnering with communities and other organisations in research means that I can support the synthesis of disciplinary and stakeholder knowledge and work to ensure that evidence from clinical and health services research improves health outcomes. More about the role here, including speech at the launch and the CEH and Monash write ups.

I have a passionate interest in culture and health. My main theoretical interests are feminist theory, postcolonial theory and critical qualitative research methodologies. My work includes empirical studies and theoretical investigations into key sites where health inequities are found, including refugee, migrant and indigenous communities; maternity and mental health. I am interested in expanding the anti-racist potential of cultural safety in health and social care in order to improve health care outcomes for marginalised groups through theory, practice and policy and to examine the role nurses and other health professionals can play in social justice. To this end, I have a specific interest in critical and self-reflexive approaches in nursing education. More recently, I have begun undertaking secondary research in the form of systematic and integrative reviews (summarising existing research) as a mechanism for supporting decision making in health and social care. You’ll find more details below about my scholarly activities below.

Digital identifiers

  • Researcher ID: E-8565-2015
  • Scopus Author ID: 6603404326

Current research interests

Self-tracking and people from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities.

CEH have partnered with Suneel Jethani and Danny Butt from the Research Unit in Public Cultures (RUPC) at Melbourne University to develop a research program on the use of patient-generated data in community health. Wearable technology platforms are dominated by the English-speaking middle-classes, (“the wealthy, worried and well” as Michael Paasche-Orlow suggests), limiting the community benefits of enhanced participation and health. The diffusion of mobile phones (that can also be used as health monitoring devices) indicates that these technologies will expand to a wider range of users. A seminar and stakeholder consultation was organised with the Better Health Channel and the Research Unit in Public Cultures (RUPC) at Melbourne University in 2016 to explore how wearables can act as a form of participatory media, where client-generated information has the potential to inform care decisions, enhance consumer engagement and promote shared decision making. We held a pilot workshop on maternal digital literacies in February 2017 and have begun a program of work. I am indebted to Youkyoung Lee and Bhargavi Battala who have volunteered their time on this project.

My research interests include: whether health technologies provide an opportunity for addressing health inequalities; a critical health agenda around the intersections of race, class, gender, neoliberalism and health technology; examining how wearable health technologies can enhance consumer participation agendas eg through co-design and shared decision making; the implications of  new health information technologies for the health care workforce implications of new health information technologies; and data ethics in the context of the secondary use of clinical data and aggregation of patient data. I have experience in community technology planning and evaluation, completing evaluations on: the use of ICT in early childhood education; community ICT planning, training and support; and a Digital Opportunities Project in an economically deprived part of Auckland, New Zealand. I established (and continue to maintain) the Aotearoa Ethnic Network (AEN) in 2005, a national listserv which has received awards for outstanding contribution to Race Relations in New Zealand.

Developing health literate and culturally appropriate patient information resources about sensitive topics (Sexuality and HIV).

Brochures and videos can be useful for teaching people about their health. However, many health education materials are produced with inadequate consideration of whether they are suitable for the intended reader. Up to sixty percent of Australians do not understand information given to them by health professionals. The need for simple and easy to read information is especially important when it comes to sensitive topics such as sexual health. Ideally resources should go beyond the provision of information to enhancing the decision making capacity of health care consumers. Our health environments should assist consumers to find, understand and act on health information in order to support their wellbeing. Health professionals can facilitate health literacy by using techniques such as Teach back, signposting reliable information (Health Translations Directory and Better Health Channel) and improving access to information in a range of formats for example podcasts, games etc. Another important role health services can play is to assure the quality of information that is available to health care consumers. I am working with Phuong Nguyen (CEH staff member) and volunteers Yadanar Yadanar and Lachlan Summers to develop an HIV resource for people from migrant and refugee communities with low health literacy.

Social determinants of wellbeing for ethnic women: Improving support services for recent immigrants

I am working with Prof Yelena Tsarenko, Dr Dewi Tojib, Dr RoseAnne Misajon and Rakshinda Kabir to enhance the accessibility, acceptability and appropriateness of support services to women who have recently arrived to Australia. Based on an evaluation of currently available support services, a comprehensive gender-oriented framework will be developed. This project, conducted in a partnership with the Victorian Immigrant and Refugee Women’s Coalition (VIRWC), responds to a federal government strategic research priority to promote population health and wellbeing. An innovative integrated service model will be developed, that accounts how women’s needs are shaped by social and economic conditions. Intended outcomes will include more effective marketing strategies for reaching women immigrants.

Co-design and consumer participation in the context of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Communities: An integrative review

The benefits of involving consumers in health services development are widely recognized, yet poorly evaluated. There is some evidence that the quality of care can be improved through involving patients in the planning and development of services- such as improving access, improving service delivery and accountability, consumer experiences and health outcomes. Partnering can increase ownership and lead to empowerment for consumers and increase accountability. However, involvement of consumers can range from passive, where people receive information (for example in the form of stakeholder dialogues, public consultations, meetings) to more active, for example, in the context of shared decision-making. Strategies for increasing access to health care for a group, or access to a service may not result in active decision-making roles without explicit commitments to health literate environments and shared decision making. Dr Robyn Cant and I have completed an integrative review on the processes of engagement of people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in the design and implementation of healthcare services in Australia. The manuscript is currently under review and will form a platform of further research work at CEH.

The Impact of Alternative Care Pathways on Emergency Department Presentations: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Non-urgent presentations put increased pressure on Emergency Department (ED) resources. In this study we aimed to systematically review the literature in order to identify the effect alternative emergency pathways have on ED presentations specifically primary care GP cooperatives – usually out-of-hours [also known as primary care practitioner (PCP) services] and walk-in clinics – which tend to be conveniently located in a central location, and/or co-located alongside an ED and led by physicians or nurses. Jessica Crawford, Professor Simon Cooper, Dr Robyn Cant and I have recently had our systematic review published: Crawford, J., Cooper, S., Cant, R., & DeSouza, R. (2017). The impact of walk-in centres and GP co-operatives on emergency department presentations: A systematic review of the literature. International Emergency Nursing.

Optimising success for students entering bachelor degrees at second-year: Determining best-practice for advanced standing transition courses

Although there are some overlapping features between Vocational education and training (VET) and higher education (HE), VET’s distinct form of national tertiary education include: open entry, a qualifications framework, competency-based training aligned with workplace requirements focused on preparing students with knowledge and skills for particular occupations include a; knowing ‘how’ and tacit knowledge. Students transitioning from a VET to HE learning environment must adjust from a highly structured, closely scaffolded, vocationally-orientated, competency based studies to a less directive adult learning environment that is theoretically-orientated involving considerable amounts of reading, critique and assessment writing. In this OLT project Dr Mark Symmons, Dr Meredith McIntyre, Tony Woods, Lesley Macgibbon and I are determining best-practice for advanced standing transition courses.

Current postgraduate research supervision

I have recently supervised to completion a thesis titled: The role of mothers in Interethnic relationships, Doctorate by Research (Lucia Davis) with Professor Marilyn Waring in the Institute of Public Policy at AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand. I am currently supervising a thesis titled: The Origins of Community Identity Formation and the Role of Emotions, Assimilation, and Identity Disintegration MA (Karin Zhu) with Dr Paul Atkinson in the School of Media, Film and Journalism at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Scholarly activity
Thesis examination:
  • 2017 Examiner: Masters of Public Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland.
  • 2015 Examiner: Doctor of Philosophy, University of Waikato, Political Science and Public Policy.
  • 2014 Examiner: Doctor of Philosophy, School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work, University of Auckland.
  • 2014 Examiner: Doctor of Philosophy, School of Geography, University of Waikato.
  • 2014 Examiner: Masters of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology & Preventive Medicine, School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine,University of Auckland.
  • 2013 Examiner: Doctor of Philosophy, Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Nursing & Midwifery, Flinders University
  • 2012 Examiner: Master of Development Studies, School of Geography, Environment and Earth Science. Victoria University of Wellington.
  • 2010 Examiner: Master of Public Health, School of Population Health, University of Auckland.
  • 2008 Examiner: Master of Arts (Psychology) Massey University.
  • 2007 Examiner: Master of Arts (Psychology) Massey University.
  • 2006 Examiner: Master of Arts (Social Policy) Massey University.
  • 2006 Examiner: Master of Arts (Nursing) Victoria University.
Grant application reviews
  • 2015 National Health and Medical Research Council’s (NHMRC) Project Grants funding
  • 2015 Health Research Council of New Zealand: Maori Health Committee programme proposal
  • 2014 Health Research Council of New Zealand: Maori Health Committee programme proposal
  • 2011 Lottery Health Research Committee – New Zealand Lotteries Commission
  • 2010 Lottery Health Research Committee – New Zealand Lotteries Commission
  • 2007 Marsden Fund Fast Start applications (contestable fund administered by the Royal Society of New Zealand)
  • 2005 Health Research Council of New Zealand: Research Proposals for funding

Editorial Boards

 Editorial Board member of the journals: Transcultural Nursing, The Hive (Publication of the Australian College of Nursing), Women’s Studies Journal of New Zealand.

Journal peer review activities

Ethnicity and Health, Women’s Studies Journal of New Zealand, The Australian Journal of Indigenous Education, AlterNative, Collegian, International Journal of Migration and Border Studies (IJMBS), Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online. (Massey University), Journal of Advanced Nursing, Transcultural Nursing, Contemporary Nurse, Diversity in Health and Social Care, Paediatric Child Health Nursing, International Journal of Mental Health & Addiction, Journal of Palliative Care, Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health, Health & Social Care in the Community, Health and Place, Maternal and Child Health Journal, Social Work Review, The American Journal of Psychiatric Rehabilitation, Women’s Health and Urban Life journal, Bulletin of Information Technology Research, SIGNS, SITES, Australian Journal of Adult Learning, Journal of Neonatal, Whitireia Nursing Journal, Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies.

Research grants

  • 2014 A/Prof Yelena Tsarenko, Dr Dewi Tojib, Dr RoseAnne Misajon, Dr Ruth DeSouza. Social determinants of wellbeing for ethnic women: Improving support services for recent immigrants. Faculty Interdisciplinary Research Grant Scheme, Faculty of Business and Economics Monash University.
  • 2014: Dr Mark Symmons, Dr Meredith McIntyre, Dr Ruth DeSouza, Tony Woods, Lesley Macgibbon. ‘Optimising direct entry success: an online transition course for students beginning university at second year’. Office for Learning and Teaching (OLT) Innovation and Development Grant.
  • 2009: Ruth DeSouza. Vice Chancellor’s Staff PhD Completion Award. AUT University.
  • 2009: Ruth DeSouza. Jenni Broom, Jill Conway: ‘Research into the Resettlement Experience and Special Needs of Women at Risk: an evaluation to create best practice support systems’. Lotteries Community Sector Research Fund.
  • 2008: Ruth DeSouza .Migrant fathers’ experiences of fathering in a new country: Implications for health and social service providers. AUT Internal Contestable Grant.
  • 2007: Professor Kathryn McPherson, Dr Deborah Payne, Dr Dianne Roy, Professor Cynthia Farquhar, Dr Matire Harwood, Ms Ruth DeSouza, Associate Professor Lynne Giddings. Improving health interventions and support for mothers experiencing disability.
  • 2006. Waller, N., DeSouza, R.  Trauma and migrant women, Internal contestable grant.
  • 2006. Gao, W., DeSouza, R. and Paterson, J. Pilot study: The uptake of cervical screening in Chinese immigrants in Auckland    Internal contestable grant.
  • 2006: Abbot, M. and DeSouza, R.  Barriers and enablers to help seeking for problem gamblers and families. Ministry of Health.
  • 2005 McPherson, K., Diesfeld, K. et al.,Evaluation of Vocational Rehabilitation under the IPRC Act. Accident Compensation Corporation.
  • 2005: DeSouza, R. and  Macfarlane, E. The adjustment to parenting for ethnic women and the implications for health policy and service delivery, Families Commission Blue Skies Funding.
  • 2005: Williamson, A. and DeSouza, R  Evaluation of the use of ICT in early childhood education    City of Manukau Education Trust.
  • 2005: Williamson, A. and DeSouza, R. Evaluation of youth skills project, Enterprise Waitakere.
  • 2005: DeSouza, R. Bellringer, M. and Garrett, N. Access Issues for Chinese People in New Zealand    Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC).
  • 2005: DeSouza, R. and  Macfarlane, E. The adjustment to parenting for ethnic women and the implications for health policy and service delivery, Royal New Zealand Plunket volunteers.
  • 2004. Guerin, B., DeSouza R. and Dunstan, S. First National Refugee Research Conference. SPEaR.
  • 2004: Craig, B., Williamson, A., and DeSouza, R. National survey of community ICT planning, training and support. Department of Labour.
  • 2003: Williamson, A., and DeSouza R. Evaluation of Otara Digital Opportunities Project City of Manukau Education Trust.
Refereed journal articles
Research reports
  • DeSouza, R. (2012). Doing It for Ourselves: Refugee women on their own in New Zealand (pdf full report). Auckland: Refugee Services.
  • McPherson, K., Diesfeld K, Schluter P, Travalglia S, Ryan B, DeSouza R, Boocock M, Harwood M, LaGrow S, Callaghan K, Gorman D, Tuiqereqere D. Evaluation of Vocational Rehabilitation under the Injury Prevention Rehabilitation and Compensation (IPRC) Act 2001 (2007). (A report commissioned by the Accident Compensation Corporation New Zealand). Auckland: AUT University
  • Bellringer, M., Pulford, J., Abbott, M., DeSouza, R., & Clarke, D. (2007). Problem gambling: Barriers to help seeking behaviours [Final draft] (Technical). Auckland: Ministry of Health.
  • DeSouza, R. (2006). New spaces and possibilities: The adjustment to parenthood for new migrant mothers. Wellington: Families Commission (pdf blueskies-desouza).
  • Williamson, A., & DeSouza, R. (2006). Direct qualitative analysis of data from digital audio sources. Waitakere City: Wairua Consulting Limited.
  • DeSouza, R., & Garrett, N. (2005). Access issues for Chinese people in New Zealand. Auckland: Auckland University of Technology (access_issues).
  • Williamson, A., & DeSouza, R. (2003). Evaluation of the Otara Digital Opportunities Project. Auckland, NZ: UNITEC Centre for IT Research.
  • DeSouza, R. (2006). Walking upright here: Countering prevailing discourses through reflexivity and methodological pluralism. Muddy Creek Press, New Zealand
Edited Publications
  • Williamson, A., & DeSouza, R. (Eds.). (2008). Researching with communities. Auckland: Muddy Creek Press.
  • De Souza, R., (2007). Faith and ethnic communities. Aotearoa Ethnic Network, 2(2). Faith. ISSN 1177-3472.
  • DeSouza, R., & Williamson, A. (2007). Aotearoa Ethnic Network Journal, 2(1): ICT. ISSN 1177-3472.
  • DeSouza, R., & Williamson, A. (2006). Aotearoa Ethnic Network Journal, 1(2): Creativity. ISSN 1177-3472.
  • DeSouza, R., & Williamson, A. (2006). Aotearoa Ethnic Network Journal, 1(1). ISSN 1177-3472.
Sections in books
  • O’Brien, T., De Souza, R. & Baker, M. (2017). Providing culturally safe care.  In P. Barker (Ed.), Psychiatric and mental health nursing: The craft of caring (Third ed). London: Arnold.
  • De Souza, R. (in press). Going Without: Migrant Mothers, Food and the Postnatal Ward in New Zealand. In F. Guignard and T. Cassidy (Eds.), Moving Meals and Migrant Mothers. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  • De Souza, R. (2015). Navigating the ethics in cultural safety. In D. Wepa (Ed.), Cultural safety. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press: 111-124.
  • De Souza, R. (2015). Culturally safe care for ethnically and religiously diverse communities. In D. Wepa (Ed.), Cultural safety. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press: 189-203.
  • Wood, P., Bradley, P., & De Souza, R. (2012). Mental Health in Australia and New Zealand. In R. Elder, K. Evans & D. Nizette (Eds.), Practical perspectives in psychiatric and mental health nursing (Third edition). New South Wales: Mosby, Elsevier Australia.
  • DeSouza, R (2012). Power dynamics in communication. In S. Shaw , A. Haxell and T. Weblemoe (Eds.), Lifespan development and commmunication. Auckland: Oxford University Press.
  • DeSouza, R. (2011). ‘All of me meets here, an alchemy of parts’ – Negotiating my identities in New Zealand. Localizing Asia in Aotearoa. P. Voci and J. Leckie. Wellington, Dunmore Publishing: 231-245.
  • DeSouza, R. (2010). New mothers in a new land: Indian migrant mothers talk. India in New Zealand: Local identities, global relations. S. Bandyopadhyay. Dunedin, Otago University Press: 207-217.
  • McNeill, H., Paterson, J., Sundborn, G., DeSouza, R., Weblemoe, T., McKinney, C., et al. (2009). Culture health and wellbeing. In S. Shaw & B. Deed (Eds.), Health and environment in Aotearoa/New Zealand (pp. 95-124). Auckland: Oxford University Press.
  • O’Brien, T., Morrison-Ngatai, E., & De Souza, R. (2009). Providing culturally safe care  In P. Barker (Ed.), Psychiatric and mental health nursing: The craft of caring (Second ed., pp. 635-643). London: Arnold.
  • Wood, P., Bradley, P., & De Souza, R. (2008). Mental Health in Australia and New Zealand. In R. Elder, K. Evans & D. Nizette (Eds.), Practical perspectives in psychiatric and mental health nursing (Second ed., pp. 86-107). New South Wales: Mosby, Elsevier Australia.
  • DeSouza, R. (2007). Sifting out the sweetness: Migrant motherhood in New Zealand. In Liamputtong, P. (Ed.). Reproduction, Childbearing and Motherhood: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (239-251). New York: Nova Science Publishers.
  • Pavagada, R., DeSouza, R. (2007). Culture and mental health care in New Zealand: indigenous and non-indigenous people. In K. Bhui & D. Bhugra (Eds.), Culture and mental health (pp. 245-260). London: Hodder Arnold.
  • DeSouza, R. (Jan, 2007). Multicultural relationships in supervision. In D. Wepa (Ed), Clinical supervision in the health professions: The New Zealand experience. Auckland: Pearson Education.
  • DeSouza, R. (2005). Working with migrant and refugee women. In A. Hodren (Ed.), Royal New Zealand Plunket Society National Resource Manual. (pp. 72-77). Wellington: Royal New Zealand Plunket Society.
  • DeSouza, R. (2005). Postnatal mental health. In A. Hodren (Ed.), Royal New Zealand Plunket Society National Resource Manual. (pp. 99-113) Wellington: Royal New Zealand Plunket Society.
  • Williamson, A., Kennedy, D. M., DeSouza, R., & McNaught, C. (2005). Managing intellectual capital and intellectual property within software development communities of practice. In E. Coakes & S. Clarke (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Communities of Practice in Information and Knowledge Management (pp. 364-374). Hershey, PA: Idea Group.
  • De Souza, R. (2004). Working with refugees and migrants. In D. Wepa (Ed.), Cultural safety (pp. 122-133). Auckland: Pearson Education New Zealand.
  • Wood, P., Bradley, P., & De Souza, R. (2004). Mental Health in Australia and New Zealand. In R. Elder, K. Evans & D. Nizette (Eds.), Practical perspectives in psychiatric and mental health nursing (pp. 80-98). New South Wales: Elsevier Australia.
  • Peach, J, Ehau, N. De Souza, R, Nonu-Reid, E. (1997). Documenting the cultural dimension of practice. In J. Richmond. (Ed.), Nursing Documentation: Writing what we do. Melbourne: Ausmed.
Non-peer review journal articles/letters
Artist catalogue essays
  • Tufunga Arts Trust: Lotus in Bloom 9th October -22nd November 2015,catalogue essay, Mangere Arts Centre, Auckland.
  • Bepen Bhana: Postcards from the Edge 4 May-7 July 2013 catalogue essay in Postcards from the Edge, a solo exhibition by Auckland-based artist Bepen Bhana exploring the history of New Zealand’s landscape in painting and as a backdrop for Bollywood films, at Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Auckland.